Monday, October 31, 2011

Warm Fuzzies 2

It's week 2 of Juliana's Warm Fuzzies blogfest and this week I'm tasked with finding images or music to represent my work. Because I tend to write late at night or at 5 in the morning, I don't usually listen to music while I write, but I always have music in my head. So here are a few of the songs I think fit with The Boyfriend Plague. The first one was actually pretty crucial in Taillights too...

So, that's my book in songs. Think you know what it's about??? Go on, tell me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New ideas

Of course, since I've 'finished' my new book, my brain is already ticking away at the next idea. It's a tricky one, a story that's going to require a lot more plotting than anything I've written before.

One of my fabulous online writing buddies asked me to help her brainstorm some new ideas for her next project which struck me as being a really awesome way to approach a new project. So I gave her the bones of my new idea and she came back with a bunch of questions for me to think about.

So I'm thinking. And thinking... And terrifying myself with the complexity of the idea, but excited by how awesome it will be if I can nail it. I probably won't start until after the holidays because I have some other things I need to do and hate having to switch directions mid-way through a project. So I have time to think, make notes, possibly even outline (heaven forbid!).

How do you get started on new projects? Does brainstorming help?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Progress update

Well, I'm done.

Round one revisions are complete. Apart from one little thing I want to tweak in chapter 29. Will get that done tonight, and then send it off to some of my readers. Wheee!

Am I happy with the book? Maybe... There are parts I love. There are parts I'm not sure about. The ending especially. I can't help thinking it's a little muddy. But at this stage, I've kind of lost perspective on it. Which is why I can't wait to get feedback from other people. It's easy to get so close to your work that you can't see the flaws.

And boy, do I know there are flaws....''

Now I have to decide what to do with my time while I wait for notes. Any ideas? Oh, right. I have 2 MSs to beta read for other writers. Must get onto that....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warm Fuzzies

My good friend Juliana is hosting a blogfest this week and you should all go and join in. She's celebrating being a writer and if that isn't something to celebrate, I don't know what is!

In this round, we're talking about telling people we're writers.

Well, for a long time I didn't. Writing for me was clandestine, something to be done behind closed doors. I never showed anyone my work or did anything with it.

Then I finished a book. Suddenly, what I'd been working on for so many years was finished. I had no idea what to do with it. So I started looking around for people to read it, places to send it, and contests to enter.

Now I'm proud to say I'm a writer. In fact, I've recently started using that first, before telling people what I do professionally. I mean, I'm more a writer than a cinema manager, right? Writing is my passion; managing the cinema is a job.

When I say that, people always ask one of two things: "What have you written? Would I have read it?" or "Oh, ad copy? Journalist?"

When I admit that I write novels for teenagers, they look at me funny. It's kind of half impressed, half 'this lady is a nut-job'.

But I don't write the books for them, do I? And I'm proud of what I do, even if no one really understands it...

How do people react when you say you're a writer?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Under our noses

The school holidays are just ending. Tomorrow number one son goes back to school. So we finished up with doing something that I've been meaning to do since my own childhood: we went to the old WWII fortress that is excavated into the hill overlooking the harbor. There are so many things like this, that I've known about for years and never done. And having kids is the best excuse in the world to actually go and do them.

This set of holidays has been filled with things like this. Not only things I've been meaning to do, but discovering new things about a city I've lived in, off and on, most of my life. We discovered a clock that chimes on the hour and opens up to give a brief history of the city in a series of mobile dioramas. It's in a shopping arcade inside an old bank building, and I've walked through there a million times and never noticed the clock or heard it chime. Must never have been there on an hour...

The bunkers were impressive too. Miles and miles of tunnels through the hill and the most massive gun emplacements. My kids got a good laugh out of me being too scared to climb back down the ladder to the place the guns were mounted. So, I'm a little more scared of heights than I thought. I've always known about the fortress. As a kid I walked all over the hill they're dug into and every now and then I'd come across a concrete slab, a locked door cut into it. It never occurred to me that they were anything other than old storage sheds or something. The vast network of tunnels linking all these places surprised me.

What wonders have you discovered under your own nose?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Leave Me Breathless Blogfest

Brenda Drake is running this blogfest today in which you post a scene that will leave the reader breathless. It can be a scene of suspense, horror, romance or whatever as long as it will take breath away. So, I thought I might share something from The Boyfriend Plague, since I'm now only 2 chapters away from the end of my revisions. It's Livvie's first kiss...

Bianca bent her head and her lips settled upon mine. They were warm and soft, slippery with lipstick. I shivered and pressed my own lips more firmly agains hers. Her mouth opened a little, and I followed, admitting her inquisitive tongue. It tickled mine, darting in and out, waltzing across my tastebuds. The flavor of wine, exotic and sour at the same time, flooded my mouth.

My heart beat a rapid tattoo through my chest. This was wrong. I should not be doing this. But I remained mesmerized, nerves I’d never noticed before singing songs of ecstasy along my spine. Kissing Jesse had been nothing like this.

She pulled away, slowly, as if surfacing from a dive. She licked her lips, smiling in satisfaction. Her lipstick, smeared now, blurred her mouth into something unrecognizable. I ran my tongue across my lips and tasted her there, spikes of electricity igniting in my belly.

“Wow…” she breathed. “You’re good.”

“Am I?” I reached for her again, wanting nothing but her mouth on mine once more.

“Yeah, you are.” She pushed me against the wall and I lost myself in her kisses.

Time held no meaning. It could have been seconds or forever before I drew back. Nothing so good could be wrong, yet my stomach writhed with guilt. “I… I should get home.” My voice was unsteady.

Bianca glanced up at the star-speckled sky and nodded. “Yeah. Me too.”

It felt completely natural when, as we walked toward the bus stop two blocks away, she slipped her hand into mine.

Do tell me what you think...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Much Information....

I love the internet. I love that pretty much anything you need to know can be found within a few clicks of a mouse. I spend far too much time here, reading blogs, hanging out on Twitter and trawling other sites. But I'm beginning to feel a little overwhelmed.

There is so much information out there for writers, and it's often conflicting. I want to be the best writer I can be, want to be successful at it and get agented and published. So I read blogs about writing and publishing and follow agents on Twitter. I write this blog to share and network with other writers. I take part in blogfests. Oh, and every now and then I actually write too.

With all these things out there to help me be the best I can be, telling me what I need to do to reach my goal, surely it shouldn't be so hard.

But it is. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Too much of it can flummox you, make you like a deer in headlights, unable to move forward or back away. And that's how I feel at the moment. Buried in information that's supposed to help me, but is really just keeping me from being able to move forward.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by the wealth of resources available to you? How to you push through it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life Beyond

As I close in on the end of my Boyfriend Plague revisions, my mind keeps drifting off toward that next book. I have an idea for it, but it's tricky, and I'm not sure I'm a skilled enough writer to tackle it yet. It's a character I wrote in a short story about a year ago. In the story I focused on one event, but there were hints of a very complex and rich backstory there. In the book I have swirling around my head, that backstory will become the main plot.

But is it ever a good idea to write a novel from a short story? Short stories are a unique entity, and the best ones are focused on a very specific moment in time. Novels span weeks, months or years. Can you expand a short story successfully?

I hope so. So many of my short stories have fascinating characters that I would love to be able to explore more fully. My heroin addicted ballerina for example. And my beach house family who I have ignored most shamefully this year. I apologize.

Do you use short stories as springboards to novels? Or is that just a bad idea?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fearless Leader

Here's a little something I dragged off my hard-drive. It's a character study that ended up becoming the centerpiece of a short story I wrote. I never really liked the short story it ended up in, but I do like this description of the main character.


By Kate Larkindale

He was royalty. Exiled maybe, but royalty nonetheless. His kingdom: the stretch of High Street between Lombard and Grainge. Here he could stride proudly in his worn leather jacket emblazoned with words that made many in the neighbourhood recoil in horror. His jeans were worn, almost threadbare in places and fit him almost too well. Young girls giggled and flushed as he passed, but could not look away. His name could be found scrawled on notebooks and inside shakily drawn hearts on the walls of the high school girls’ bathroom. Best friends had come to blows over an imagined wink as he passed and a cool, blue-eyed glance was enough to keep a girl at the top of the lunch table for a week.

The younger boys hanging outside the video store watched him go by. Slouching against the wall they talked more loudly, swearing and spitting as they smoked their stolen cigarettes and tried to catch his eye. Once in a while he would select one of these kids to run an errand for him and this would subtly shift the centre of power within the ranks. They all hoped to one day be in his gang; would follow him to the death if necessary. Older ladies clutched their purses tight to their chest as he passed. Mothers dragged their daughters to the far side of the street as he approached. These were the same daughters who sighed his name as they went to sleep at night and secretly scribbled his name with their own on hastily crumpled slips of paper.

He seemed all confidence, his proud swagger down High Street reflecting his belief in his ownership of this stretch of the city. But it had been a long battle and it showed. The piercing blue eyes were shadowed and suspicious. This was a man who trusted no one and allowed nobody to get close to him. Like ancient emperors he expected assassination to come from any direction. Even his gang, the chosen few, were kept at arms length. The tests he set for anyone foolhardy enough to want to be in his gang were gruelling and often dangerous. You could not be frivolous about your desire to be in his royal posse; many had tried and failed. Others wore scars proudly, their badges of honour, their medals, their decorations for services rendered.

So who was this local deity? Underneath the shabby leather jacket that labelled him leader he was nothing, a tall, skinny kid with greasy, too-long hair. He could not honestly be called handsome. His features were too large for that. Eyes too big and a little too close together, nose just slightly too pointed, his mouth overly generous. His shoulders were broad but the arms that hung from them were long and thin. His strength took enemies by surprise. He looked as if a strong breeze would snap him in two, but he was wiry and used his frail appearance to his advantage. He would hang back when fights broke out, let his henchmen enter the fray first as if they were there to protect him, then strike when the others were not expecting it. It was this strategy that had won him his little patch of turf.

He lounged fearlessly on the bench in front of the post office, some of his gang reclining on the grass nearby, soaking up the last of the autumn sun. A gaggle of high school girls straggled by, slowing their steps and flipping their hair to get his attention. One of them did, but only because she did not giggle or wink or toss her perfectly groomed hair in his direction. She walked with her head down, ignoring both the boys and the girls she appeared to be with. He slid off the bench in one cat-like motion and was walking beside her before the others even realised he’d moved. She glanced up as she saw the booted feet fall into step with her own. He grinned at her, a crooked, mischievous grin that she could not help but return. He leaned down and whispered something into her ear. Shaking her head she clutched her books closer to her chest and hurried to catch up with her friends. He laughed heartily as he sloped back to the bench and the congratulatory hand shakes of his gang.

So, what do you think? Is it worth re-visiting this dude?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward

Today is the day of the Pay It Forward Blogfest. Basically, the idea is to link to blogs you enjoy so other people who read your blog, might find other blogs they might enjoy. Or, in their own words....

"Here is how the blogfest will actually work: The idea is to introduce everyone to everyone else. We want this to be an easy post that allows you to meet and follow as many other bloggers as you can. In your post, we would like you to please list, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading, but that you suspect may fly under the radar of a lot of other bloggers. Or they can be famous blogs, as long as they're awesome.

But don't stop there! Certainly visit and follow all the blogs that are featured in people's posts the day of the blogfest, but those don't have to be the only blogs you visit. You can visit everyone who enters in on the fun, and signs up on the linky list. In the interest of time you don't even have to leave comment. You can just follow, and come back another time. After all, we all know we don't have time to visit every blog we enjoy every single day."

First up. Been Writing? This is Jolene Perry's blog and is tremendously entertaining. Her first book has just come out this week, so head over there and find out about her journey.

Secondly, the logline queen herself, Holly Bodger. She has been an absolute legend the past few weeks, helping writers write loglines that will capture attention.

And thirdly, my all time favorite blog for sheer entertainment value. I've mentioned it here before, but you can't really go past it: Infamous Potatoes.

I could actually go on all day since there are so many fantastic blogs out there, and so many that I read almost every day. But start with these ones for now....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Critique or Glowing Praise?

I am a member of several critique groups. I trust my crit partners and nothing I write goes anywhere without their wise eyes passing across it. One of my CPs is a fantastic plotter, something I'm not, so her feedback is essential to tightening my plots. Other CPs have their own areas of expertise, like punctuation or voice, or catching those moments where the character POV slips.

I love these people and know my work is better for their eyes.

But there are always those people in critique groups who don't really want feedback, just glowing praise of their genius. The ones who rather than accepting the critique, and acknowledging that maybe their work isn't flawless, will argue about why they're right, why the choice they made was the right one.

These people frustrate me. Why put your work up for critique if you don't actually want to improve your work? Just write for yourself and enjoy your own voiceless ramblings through plots that lack tension and characters whose behavior elicits no sympathy. Don't waste my time if you don't want my opinion.

I take a lot of time over my critiques. I read chapters several times through, giving every line and turn of phrase careful consideration. If my opinion isn't wanted, why did you put the book up for critique? If you're not willing to admit there are flaws in your work, why are you asking for help with it?

If you want glowing praise, give your chapters to your mother instead.

Do you have people like that in your critique groups?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Coincidence or awareness?

In my new WIP, The Boyfriend Plague, one of the central issues is a fairly controversial one. All of a sudden, I'm seeing references to it everywhere. Magazine articles, newspaper opinion pieces. It's everywhere. And everyone seems to have impassioned opinions.

One part of me is cheering. Good work Kate! You've tapped into the cultural zeitgeist. Another part of me is saying 'uh oh. By the time this book comes out (assuming it does) this issue's gonna be done to death'.

It's something I have very passionate feelings about myself, and in my first draft, I didn't include this particular plot line. I veered close to it, but steered clear of actually going the distance with it, but now that I'm revising, I see that I can't leave it out. It does one of the characters a disservice. It's too important to pussy-foot around.

Have you ever noticed that often, when you learn about something new, or become fascinated with a subject, it suddenly seems to be popping up all over the place? Or you learn a new word that you've never come across before only to find it constantly in the weeks that follow?

Saturday, October 8, 2011


You know when you go to the library or a bookstore, and the shelves are loaded with promise? The books sit there, all shiny and full of potential enjoyment. Selecting just one or three or four feels impossible. Then you start sliding them off the shelf, flipping through the pages, reading the cover copy. Pretty quickly it's easy to dismiss that one as not for me, this other one as being too like something else I read recently. I usually end up with a stack to sort through more carefully, re-reading the blurbs, hoping that I'll end up with books I can dive into and not come up for air until the end.

That's the dream.

So often I wind up starting a book with all kinds of anticipation. It sounds exactly the kind of story that I love, I can't wait to start reading.

Then after the first few pages I'm going 'hmmmm. Not so sure this is living up to the blurb.' 'Not sure I like the writing.' 'The characters are really shallow and uninteresting'.

It's heartbreaking. Especially when the idea behind the book is so promising. It feels like a waste that this book got published when some other writer could have used the premise and made it the book I wanted to read. When I could have written the story in a way that would have done the story justice.

I'm reading one of these books now. I loved the cover copy, but the book is badly written. The language is stilted and the whole thing lacks the emotional impact the story demands. I'm not finished yet, so I have a little spark of hope. Maybe it will get better. But I'm not convinced of that....

Are you ever disappointed by books you choose? Do you ever feel like you could write the story better?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Revision update

You guys are keeping me accountable here, so it's up to me to keep you updated on progress. It's October 7th and I'm 5.5 chapters into my revision. Not quite on the pace yet, but close enough. I have the day off today, and expect (hope?) to get through at least 3 chapters this afternoon.

I'm feeling good about things at this stage. I keep having ideas of how to get various things across more clearly and I'm setting up the new subplot already, even though it doesn't come into play until the very end of the book. Where I'm up to now is the part of the book that needs the most work. I have to cut mercilessly as I excise the redundant subplot and sow seeds for what's coming next. I have to clarify Livvie's goals and the things standing in her way.

I'll get there. This is only a first round revision after all. There will be more rounds....

Will I make it by October 31st???

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Things that make me smile

I'm a great believer in the small things that make up a life. Sure, you have your big highs and lows, but it's the small moments that actually make up your existence. And almost every day, there is some small detail that will bring a smile to my face. So I thought I'd share a few of the things that make me smile.

Old people holding hands.

The grandpa who rides his grandson's scooter home after dropping him at school.

Finding bargains when shopping.

The smell of a new book when you crack it open.

The sound of my kids laughing when they don't think I'm listening.

Good news from friends.

Plunging my face into a mound of laundry fresh from the dryer on a cold day.

Sinking into a hot bath.

The sound of champagne corks popping.

Acceptance emails from publishers and requests from agents.

The end of a class at the gym.

And that's just a few. What things make you smile?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hated Lunch

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I have so many short stories hanging out on my hard-drive, I need to share them. So here's a silly little piece for you....


“I hate celery!” Maggie stated. “Loathe it. Detest it! Abhor it!”

Her mother sighed, not even turning around to look at her. “You’re always so dramatic, Maggie.” She continued packing her daughter’s lunchbox, ignoring the impassioned outburst against that particular vegetable. Maggie’s likes and dislikes changed almost daily, and she’d given up trying to keep track of them. If Maggie was hungry, she’d eat her lunch.

“I won’t eat it,” Maggie declared, stamping her foot on the scratched linoleum.

“Fine. Don’t.” The lunchbox slammed shut with a metallic clang.

All the way to school, Maggie fumed. Didn’t her mother care about her? If she cared she wouldn’t be filling her lunchbox with such poison. She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and pulled the offending lunchbox from her backpack. She opened it and saw the package of celery sticks wrapped in plastic just sitting there, in between the ham sandwich and the tiny package of rice crackers. Maggie made a face as she pulled the offending vegetables from the box, ready to fling them into the bushes and out of sight.

Maggie hesitated, her arm still raised to toss the plastic-wrapped things away. She turned and found no one in sight. Pursing her lips suspiciously, she gave another quick glance around then chucked her celery into the holly at the side of the road. She shoved her lunchbox back into her bag and ran, hoping she wouldn’t be late.

When the bell rang, signalling morning break, Maggie dove into her lunchbox. Without looking she rummaged around, hand closing over a small plastic-wrapped parcel. Her face crumpled in confusion as she pulled out the same package of celery sticks she’d thrown into the bushes on her way to school.

“How…?” she muttered to herself. Checking that nobody saw her, she buried the celery in the nearest trashcan before running out to play in the playground.

How had the celery gotten into her lunchbox again? That was the question that whirled around Maggie’s head throughout the rest of the morning. She barely heard the teacher as she explained the intricacies of dividing fractions. Maybe she hadn’t really thrown them away at all. Perhaps she’d imagined that, had some kind of vivid daydream. But Maggie knew this wasn’t true. She could remember tossing the package into the bushes, recalled hearing the swishing sound it made as it tumbled through the branches before becoming lodged somewhere deep in the prickly plant. Thoughts whirled through her mind, nothing to do with division or fractions, but no answers were forthcoming.

At lunch, Maggie was slow to open her lunchbox. And when she did, an unpleasant surprise awaited her. There, entombed neatly in plastic wrap, were the celery sticks. They were back where they had always been: nestled between sandwich and crackers, seeming to smile innocently up at her.

“What!” Maggie shoved her chair back from her desk and stood up, staring at her lunch in horror. “How…?”

She ran to the back of the room and dug through the trash in the trashcan, certain she’d uncover the celery she’d thrown away at break time. But there was nothing but crumpled tissues, several plastic sandwich bags and a few browning apple cores. After washing her hands in the sink, Maggie returned to her seat where she glared at the vegetables, hatred burning from her dark blue eyes. Pointedly ignoring them, she ate the rest of her lunch, then took the package of celery out to the playground.

Behind the jungle gym was a small stand of pine trees. Using her yellow plastic ruler to help dig, Maggie scratched a small hole into the soft soil under the tallest tree. When it was about five inches deep, she deposited the celery into the hole and hurriedly covered it with dirt, stamping it firmly down and scattering pine needles on top of it.

“There!” she said defiantly. “Let’s see you get out of that!”

Maggie walked home slowly, stopping at the holly-hedge to see if she could see the celery still suspended somewhere in its length. She was not surprised when she didn’t and trudged the rest of the way home.

“Maggie?” her mother’s voice drifted down the stairs to her, “Is that you?”

“Yes, Mom. It’s me.” Maggie tossed her backpack into a corner and kicked off her shoes as her mother came into the hallway.

“How was school?”

“Okay, I guess.” Maggie shrugged and sloped off towards the kitchen. Her mother followed, finding her in front of the fridge, searching for a snack.

“Did you eat your lunch?” she asked, shaking the lunchbox that she’d excavated from Maggie’s backpack.

“Yes,” was Maggie’s sullen reply.

“I don’t think so….” Maggies mother heard something rattling within the lunchbox and opened it, pulling out the celery sticks. “Here, eat these. Then you can have something else if you’re still hungry.”

Maggie threw herself down into a chair at the kitchen table, a look of defeat crossing her face as she unwrapped the plastic and bit into the first of six celery sticks.

835 words

Let me know what you think, okay?