Can two people forge a future when their secret pasts collide?
High school sophomore Ainslie Avalon-Bennett works hard to hide her Crazy Girl past. But as long as her best friend’s disappearance remains unsolved, she can’t shake the depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder that once landed her in a mental ward. Then she meets Thor Grael, a teen dragon shaman who spikes her pulse and calms her OCD. But will Ainslie lose him once he discovers her past? Or will Thor’s deadly secret be their undoing?
Writers are notoriously scatty but you’ll find your writing life easier if you can get yourself organised a little. Here’s a few tips:
Sort out a Writing Schedule
Set aside some regular time to write. It doesn’t have to be every day (although every day is best if you can manage it) but it should be at least a couple of times a week. Whether you can spare an hour a day, or two hours twice a week mark that down as your writing time.
Find a Quiet Place to Write
If you’re lucky enough to have your own study to work that’s great, if not the kitchen table, the conservatory, a corner in the lounge, your bedroom, the garden will all do providing you are undisturbed. You could even try a café, it worked for J.K.Rowling.
Have Achievable Aims
Set yourself a weekly aim but keep it achievable. Aiming to write 10,000 words in a week is probably unrealistic if you have a family or day job, aim instead to write character profiles, a plot outline, the first draft of a short story, a poem or a chapter of your novel depending on how many hours you have to spare. Then you’ll have a sense of achievement when you accomplish it. Unrealistic aims leave you feeling disappointed and a failure.
Folders are ideal for organising your work. Use the cardboard envelope folders for print outs of stories, research materials, letters, guidelines etc. Write clearly on the front what’s inside them. Create folders on your computer to keep your digital files in, e.g. short stories, poems, competitions, publishers’ websites.
It looks unprofessional if you approach a publisher or agent twice with the same piece of work (unless they’ve asked for a rewrite) so keep records. Jot down in a spreadsheet or notebook the title of your work, when you submitted it, who to, any contact name, the date of any response and any comments made. Keep a special folder for rejection letters and another one for work sold. As soon as you’re making any money from your writing start keeping receipts for research materials, ink cartridges, stationary, etc as these can all be offset against tax.
Do share if you have an 'organising' tips by posting them in the comment box below.
If you're looking for even more writing tips, especially for writing children's fiction, take a look at my book:
Take a look at this week's fantastic trailer for A Question of Boundaries by Sandy Bruney. An alternative history story, this trailer gives a good feel of the atmosphere and setting of the period the book's set.
Click on the book cover to watch the trailer
Caroline trusts Nathan with her life…but can she trust him with her heart?
By 1895, the United States is in the 80th year of the isolation imposed by King Thomas I and upheld by his successors. But, some are chafing under the shortages and restrictions, and when inventor Dr. Featherstone declares he has found a way to override all borders, there are those who applaud the discovery and those who fear it.
When Dr. Featherstone fails to return home for an important scientific gathering, his daughter Caroline enlists the help of the Member of Parliament from Charlotte, Nathan Llewellen. As the two search for the kidnappers, Caroline is plunged into a world where travel to other realities is possible in the blink of an eye, and people can assume the forms of fearsome as well as familiar animals…and where love comes at the most unexpected times and places.
Nathan’s peculiar gift might cost Caroline her life, but she has already lost her heart.
Today I'd like to introduce you to Sue Searles. Sue has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.
Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life. Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.
Aw what a cute pooch!
I asked Sue to tell us a bit about herself.
How did you get started writing?
As a little girl I was always writing one story or another. If it wasn’t a story, it was a crazy long poem that told a story. I always made sure I had a notebook with me and would jot down random thoughts and turn them into stories.
Then “life” happened. I grew up and had different priorities, but the desire to write stories still burned in my heart. To be honest, I can probably thank my son for giving me the courage to take the first step as a serious writer. As a child, his wonderful imagination led me to writing my very first book about the delightful characters in his head…a children’s book called Little John and the Coaspies. Writing that book gave me a taste of what it would feel like to take my writing seriously. The book led to others, and eventually I plucked up the courage and submitted Lucia’s Web for publication earlier this year.
Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I’m completely, utterly, madly besotted with PUGS. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those people who used to use the “u” word (now forbidden in my home) to describe this unique breed. But since Bentley came into my life 3 years ago, I’ve fallen in love. Pugs are a crazy, hilarious, fun-loving breed that just want to bring joy to their humans. Pugs rock!
He's gorgeous, Sue. :)
What’s your top writing tip for new writers?
Stop procrastinating and just WRITE. We all have busy schedules and it’s way too easy to come up with reasons why we’ll tackle that first novel when we stop working or when the kids are older. If we don’t MAKE IT HAPPEN, it never will.
Ali Duncan advertises for two tenants to share her upmarket apartment, but a sheltered upbringing leaves her unprepared for the weird and interesting housemates she’s about to take on.
When one turns out to be a quirky nonconformist, the other a Gothic misfit, she has to rely on her own defective judgment to find her way. A confusing burglary coincides with a series of cryptic notes she receives, leading her to suspect everybody from her best friend, to the house cleaner, to the love of her life.
But, there’s one dodgy suspect who stands out from the rest. Ali must uncover the secret surrounding the strange and sinister Lucia James, but will the truth be more than she can handle?
I sucked in a deep breath and held it, then wiped sweaty palms on my trousers. I’d only arrived home ten minutes ago and hadn’t relaxed enough to freshen up or change out of my work clothes.
Get a grip, Ali. I shouldn’t be so nervous—this was my apartment, my advertisement. So I was in charge.
It took me a little over eight seconds before I snapped myself out of my trance. If Lucia James had seemed distant and sociably inept on the phone, meeting her in person only solidified my impression of her.
Pin-straight hair, dyed jet black with purple streaks, hovered just above a sorry pair of sagging shoulders. A thick, black fringe fell across an insipidly white face, barely hiding brown eyes bordered top and bottom with a heavy band of eyeliner. Black lipstick sapped the girl of any natural color and made her look deathly pale. She clutched a brown leather bag across her chest, and a black leather jacket and studded jeans rounded off the look. The girl bit her lip and dipped her chin, her nervousness palpable.
I closed my mouth when I realized I’d been staring. “Um, sorry…come on in.”
I stepped aside to let Lucia enter. Her brown eyes darted furtively around the spacious lounge, then focused on an invisible speck on the hardwood floor.
“So, do you live nearby?” My eyes remained on her as I asked the question and tried to size her up.
“No, I’m not from around here. I don’t know many people in Umhlanga yet.” A shoulder raised two inches, then went back down.
“Where are you from?” I studied her, trying to draw the girl out of whatever spell she was in.
“Eastern Cape.” Her eyes remained averted, the brown leather bag clutched like a lifeline across her chest. The long fringe hung like a thick, black curtain over her right eye, and I had to resist the urge to reach out and pull it aside.
“So, what brings you to Durban?” I honestly wasn’t trying to sound pushy, just curious. Besides, it was a reasonable question, not so? When Lucia didn’t reply, I crossed the room and closed the front door to give her time to answer. Just as I turned back to face her, she jerked her head away and averted her eyes back to the floor. I felt my frustration levels start to rise. So Lucia could quite easily look at me, as long as I wasn’t looking back at the same time?
I held my palms together and tried to shake off the girl’s unsettling presence. “All right, so…the rent is fourteen grand, split three ways. With water and lights, say an extra grand, we can round it off at five grand each. How does that sound?”
Lucia bit her lip hard and her eyes darted around the room briefly. “Sure. Whatever.”
“Rent’s due by the first of each month.” I tried to keep it upbeat, to sound much friendlier than I felt. “I’d like to check references before I make a final decision.” I gave Lucia a pressing look, one intended to communicate that I wasn’t too convinced about her yet. And in case she hadn’t been looking, I’d made sure she heard the threat in my tone.
“That’s no problem, you don’t have to worry about me not paying or nothing.” My warning didn’t seem to rattle her one bit.
I drew in a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. “Right, so we have a domestic worker who comes in once a week. Name is Thandi.”
Lucia met my eyes for the first time since she’d stepped foot in the place. “A-a cleaning lady?” There was measured trepidation in her voice.
“M-hmm. That’s okay, right? With all three of us girls working—”
She waved her hand. “That’s okay, I’ll clean my own room.” Lucia returned her grip to the bag and her gaze to the floor.
I narrowed my eyes at her, unsure how to respond. For somebody trying to gain approval, she was being surly and aloof, if not downright rude. “Well, if you’re sure. Just let me know if you change your mind.”
She gave a quick nod, obviously just to appease me.
Lucia’s tone was as colorless as her complexion, and lacked any kind of verve or energy whatsoever. The girl was as insipid as a jellyfish, with a personality to match.
If you'd like to read more of this exciting story you can buy it here
This week's trailer is for the fabulous YA Best Friends...Forever by Krysten Lindsay Hager. It's a tale of friendship, betrayal, boy trouble and High School jinks, published by Astraea Press (Clean Reads). Who said schools days are the best days of your life?
Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way - instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year - something she finds terrifying.
Landry gets her first boyfriend (Vladi), but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry learns to speak up for what's right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition. Will Landry get a second chance with her friends, fame, and Vladi?
The Landry's True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult humor series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, crushes, and self-image.
If like me you're gripped and want to read more you can purchase the book from: