Greetings from Adelaide!
In Adelaide for the National Conference for the Fiona McIntosh Masterclass and I’m having a blast. Meeting lots of likeminded people and talking books books and more books. Getting used to talking about my books with all kinds of people (including publishers.)
On 26 June 2023. Just back from 3 days in the mountains at the Rainforest Writing Retreat, Australia’s largest retreat of its kind. My brain and my creative cup are full. It was an amazing fun and informative time with wonderful people. I also presented a short workshop for the first time at the retreat.
I’ve submitted my crime novel to the Banjo Prize. I’m nearly 40k words into my Contemporary Romance novel and keen to focus on some short story writing over the coming month. I’ve also made some new covers for my existing novels, starting with a new more contemporary cover for Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer. This is for a box set of my ‘set in France’ titles. Hotel Deja Vu will have a white spine and Set in Paris will have blue, making up the Tricolour!
16 March 2023 I’ve just spent an hour updating broken links and other mayhem on the website. C’est la vie! You can now buy all my ebooks direct (so I get all that lovely money!) I’ve joined the Australian Society of Authors. I’m working on a new Contemporary Romance story that makes its way to Bali so that will be fun. Death of a Show Princess is about to find its way into the hands of lots of Aussie publishers so fingers crossed.
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
What a year it has been! The July Masterclass seems like a millennium ago and since the Tamar Valley Writer’s Festival I feel I have lived an additional life with opportunities for physical and emotional challenges and healing.
I have just spent two weeks writing and relaxing in Bali. The image below was taken just outside Ubud. I’ve been learning Indonesian so my experience this time has been far richer with opportunities to interact with local people. I can’t quite believe I’ve been going there for years and made zero effort to learn the language.
I finished the rewrite of my crime novel and it’s with my first readers now. I have just entered a Scottish crime fiction writing competition and putting the finishing the finishing touches on my entry for this year’s Genrecon short story competition. I have big plans for 2023, but I will be going with the flow to make them happen.
Happy New Year!
Getting ready for the writing retreat this coming week. I spent 5 hours cleaning the house this week so I guess it’s a bit like nesting before a birth. The Day Job is hectic. Covid has come back around to my staff and bowled over those few who didn’t get it earlier in the year.
Booked my flights for the Tamar Valley Writers’ Festival in October, and just this week, entered their short story competition. Working on the rewrite for my Masterclass manuscript – it has a new title and a new vibe.
Homecoming came back from the Big 5 Publisher with a polite and kind No Thanks. I spoke with author and all round good guy Jack Heath at the Rainforest Writer’s Retreat and he said my options for this story are 1) Rewrite it in a more Genre-specific way, 2)Pitch to another publisher, 3) Self Publish and 4)Write something new. I’m working on options 1 and 4 right now and keeping options 2 and 3 in the bag! Read an excerpt here…
My story How I Got this Tattoo has been awarded the Tasmanian Writer’s Prize for 2022. Absolutely thrilled and not a little surprised. I was shortlisted in the Brisbane Writers Festival Southbank First Dates competition. The winner was fantastic and much deserved although I would have loved that night at The Emporium Hotel!
On the back of being shortlisted for the Sisters in Crime 28th Scarlet Stiletto Awards (I received a Highly Commended for my story Death of a Show Princess) I managed to get another “win” in for the year with a nod for the November Right-Left-Write short story competition run by the Queensland Writers Center. You can read my story Tough Crowd here.
I smashed out 40K words in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month in November) forming most of the first draft of Homecoming (working title, of course.) #amreading Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon.
Well Covid has gripped my state by the nuts again so we’re laying low. Lucky I am a huge fan of staying home! I’m getting plenty of writing done. I published a novella (17K words) last week. Called Mae, June and Paul, it’s on Kindle Unlimited and I wish I could say it has been very well received but I can’t, because it would be a huge lie. 😉 You can find it here.
I’m working on a few anthology and competition pieces. I’ve decided I’ll enter a few comps in the next 12 months. The practice will do me good and if I get any awards, mentions, or feedback that will be a bonus.
I’m still working on Mimi Gets Away with Murder although I have tentatively renamed it Blood and Water. My sister/alpha reader says she likes Mimi better so we will see.
In August I start a memoir course with Dr Leanne Dodd. The course is designed to help fictionalise our own true stories to help the healing process around any painful events in our lives. I have been writing about losing my first husband for almost as long as he’s been gone and while I may never publish those words, I find the process of writing therapeutic.
I made my podcast debut on Loulabelle’s Francofiles. I’m a huge fan of the format so it was a buzz to chat with Lou about all things French. I attended my first writing retreat at the beginning of June. The Rainforest Writing Retreat was absolutely brilliant. I was tired after the three very full days of amazing workshops but brimming with enthusiasm. I’ll be going next year. Right now I am working on four different manuscripts which is probably not ideal but hey, the heart wants what the heart wants.
#amreading The French Gift by Kirsty Manning #amwatching Resident Alien #amwriting Mae and June
I have had a busy couple of months and the next two are looking to be just as full. The large print book of Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer is out now on Amazon. The regular print versions of both will be available on the IngramSpark database in Australia very soon. This will place my books within reach of bookstores and libraries all around the world. The local library in my city has picked up both of my novels, which is really exciting.
I participated in one of those speed-date style pitching sessions last month and was pleased with the outcome. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to pitch here in my small city at the bottom of the world. Happily, both the agent and publisher showed interest in my pitches, a dark tale of women and murder and a memoir respectively.
I’ve been spending some time building an online community of authors with publications set in France. You can check us out on Facebook
#Amreading – Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. I’m also reading The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck. I had decided this year to alternate reading a fiction book then a non-fiction book but I found I didn’t want to read non-fiction before bed. I started the year with The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (So good!)
I did the Enneagram Test a couple of days ago and found out I am a Type Four. I was fascinated to read the descriptions because it was very relatable.
“Getting honest with your blind spots and the things you use to cope will allow you to walk through the world doing less harm to yourself and others.”― SARAJANE CASE, THE HONEST ENNEAGRAM: KNOW YOUR TYPE, OWN YOUR CHALLENGES, EMBRACE YOUR GROWTH
#amwriting The Circle
The hair on Shelagh’s arms stood on end as she stalked across the damp grass with her colleagues. The chopper hovered high above, capturing the opening shots and cutaways. Distant traffic hummed competing with bird calls from the surrounding hedgerows, but in her head, the show’s iconic music played. It was early but the day was already going well. Wiltshire had really come to the party, putting on a spectacular Autumn day, the sun bright dazzling in the cloudless sky. The digger had started the first trench, the soft ground yielding easily to its claw, and the cast and crew were relaxed and either supervising the dig or readying their gear.
Much of the calm on the set was attributed to the absence of Eden Bentley. His call time was the same as all the on-camera cast, but no one had seen him. After weeks of planning, the shot-list had already been changed twice to accommodate his absence. The Full Circle was a science show and Eden Bentley was definitely not a scientist. He was superfluous, window dressing, and he knew it. He was always difficult to work with, but to pull a no-show for the most important episode ever…
Perhaps the rumours were true.
The director called hold and Shelagh shook her head as if to dislodge thoughts of Eden. The first trench was ready and considering Eden’s no-show, Shelagh would introduce it. Another change, but it was a great opportunity to but it didn’t matter when she looked across at her smiling colleagues. This would be the day all their lives changed if they managed to find something, anything at all, but if she was honest, she was hoping for human remains.
From… Alia Henry and the Ghost Writer
Except for a scratchy grey blanket, Alia Henry was naked in the most famous food hall in London and it wasn’t a nightmare. A young police officer led her towards the lifts, the throng parting like a Red Sea of camera-phones. Someone called her name and Alia looked up to see the crowd filled the floor above and the one above that. She smiled and lifted one blanket-covered hand to wave. Somewhere in the crowd a woman called out, ‘I love you, Alia,’ and a cheer went up. Alia grinned at the frowning officer, who only nodded at a hidden walkway behind a raised display of mannequins showing off the latest summer fashions. Alia turned to smile at her audience, clutched her blanket, and walked to the locked security door behind the display. The policewoman turned her back and shielded her hand as she punched a code into a keypad. The door swung wide on an automatic hinge and they started down a linoleum corridor with cage covered bulbs on the ceiling. The door swung shut with a metallic thud, leaving behind the vocal and disappointed crowd.
The bare floor was cold underfoot. In all the years Alia had been shopping in Knightsbridge she had never suspected anything so utilitarian was hidden behind the elegant facade. She smiled up at a winking security camera at the end of the corridor. What a lark. She was about to be let off with a warning. Again. That would make it seven for the year.
‘We have permission to film here,’ she said as they arrived at a service lift.
‘Not in the buff, you haven’t, have you?’ the officer said. It was a rhetorical question, but Alia felt she had a right of reply.
‘It didn’t specify…’
‘Of course, it didn’t, it should have gone without saying.’ The officer spoke softly and shook her head sadly as she pushed the down button and looked at Alia. ‘I’m worried they’re going to throw the book at you this time. I think you should have given it a rest after the show at the Fringe. It was hilarious. That thing with the shopping trolleys.’ She stopped and looked up at Alia. ‘I follow all your stuff. You’re an icon for a lot of young women and girls, so this looks really bad.’
Alia wanted to say something, but the lift doors opened. The call button didn’t make a fun dinging sound and there was no cheeky, uniformed attendant in this lift. Just two huge cops who made even Alia look petite.
‘Mind your step, Lady Thalia,’ the young officer said. She was smiling slightly, her eyes kind, but as she turned to greet her colleagues, the sweet face became a mask. As Alia stepped carefully over the gap in the floor of the old service lift, she suspected she might have taken things a little too far this time.
The once-magnificent mansion, bequeathed to the publishers Whitehall International as an artists’ retreat, is under repair after years sitting derelict but Alia begins to see it in a new light once she meets Braith.
Old Houses and Time Travel again feature in this story. What can I say? I’m obsessed.
I have been working on and off on Remembering Paris, the creative non-fiction memoir. You can listen to my Remember Paris playlist on Spotify, a bunch of songs that remind me of my visits to Paris over the years. The list is eclectic to say the least; Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, anything from The Division Bell by Pink Floyd, 7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour asnd Nenah Cherry. Staying on my own in Paris all those years ago, I let MTV play day and night so I wouldn’t feel lonely… Even though I am going to keep it to memories of Paris, I will have to provide some context by mentioning things about my life at home, so it is something of a memoir, but limited only to Paris. Like what happens in Paris, stays in Paris – but it doesn’t stay there – it’s written down for the world to read!