Monday, 25 December 2017

68. A Broken Star

Greetings, lovely readers. :)

We had our anthology launch for ‘Ripples’ on the first of December. It was a lovely turn out. So wonderful to meet some of the other contributors and have them sign my copy. It was a bit surreal to be asked to sign copies too, but it was such a fun experience. It was good to feel part of something special too considering it is Rockingham Writing Centre’s first release. :)



The following day I attended the official book launches of Ms Carolyn Wren for her new book – Love Under Fire, which I reviewed in a previous blog, and Ms Demelza Carlton for her latest release -Blow, which is next on my TBR pile. It was a small gathering due to so many other events being on that day, but what an opportunity to sit and listen to two experienced writers sharing their path to publication and answer our questions. We had our very own masterclass and a captive (and captivated) audience. It was brilliant. :)

 

Book Reviews

I’d planned to read the next Odd Thomas book, but it’s still packed in a box somewhere. Meanwhile, I had these wonderful stories to read instead. :)

Shattered Earth by Jenny Schwartz

The scum of the galaxy are using Earth as a nuclear winter death camp. It outrages pirate captain Kohia Jekyll’s sense of justice. No one deserves to die agonizingly of radiation poisoning, especially not on the planet humanity had to evacuate seven generations ago. So Kohia intends to close the prison camp down.
She didn’t count on an infuriating shaman healer hitching a ride aboard her starship.

Nairo Bloodstone isn’t going to Earth to be a hero. He learned the hard way that when you’re a healer, doing your best for people is never enough. One miracle leads them to demand another and another. Heroes die exhausted and alone, and the galaxy continues with billions of people still clamouring for a miracle-worker to save them.

No, Nairo isn't going to Earth to be a hero. He intends to change what it means to be human.

Kohia Jekyll is not a captain you want to cross. A space pirate she may be, but her desire for justice is a deeply ingrained part of her psyche. Her loyal crew are ready to follow her perilous rescue mission and she trusts them all, except perhaps the alien from their newly created alliance, and the human shaman healer who makes her inner tiger purr like a kitten – damn the man. His kind of distraction is the last thing she needs.

Nairo Bloodstone has his own agenda for hitching a ride aboard the pirate starship. It has everything to do with his research. He wants to study the pirate captain, learn how the ‘sha’ energy builds around her and others like her. His only goal, to help them reclaim the ability to shapeshift their Earth ancestors once had. It has nothing to do with the woman herself, does it? But when their mission goes horribly wrong, and disastrous secrets are revealed, protocol and research are the last things on their mind.

I loved the inner strengths of the main characters in this story, which were so opposite the ones they showed to everyone else. The action flowed well and continued to up the ante with every chapter. It amused me the way Kohia and Nairo reacted toward each other – two strong characters who thought they didn’t need anyone, yet wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best they had to give, and when it counted, they gave it all. The perfect read while waiting for the next book in the series. :)


Billie the Kid (Sky Fire Chronicles) by Paul Summerhayes

Readers describe this book as The Magnificent 7 meets the X-men.

A young woman's family is cut down by a dark god's emissary, forcing her to pick up a gun and sword in defence of all she holds dear. At this time, she is an unknown, little more than a child, but one day everyone would know and fear her. They call her Billie the Kid.

The old gods stir. Their celestial war spills into our world, ending the American Civil War in an inferno that extinguishes life in large parts of the country. Under cloudless skies, legendary characters roam the wastelands while mutants and demons do more than infest people's nightmares. They lurk in the darkness, waiting to spring into action at the whim of their vile masters.

The Sky Fire Chronicles is a fantasy series set in America during the late 1800's.

Life is harsh in the American West. The late nineteenth century is staggering under the weight of an apocalypse, a continuing battle between the old gods who are desperate to reclaim Earth as their own. Young Billie Antrim can’t remember what her world once was. All she sees is desert, desperate times, and danger just a heartbeat away. Yet she remembers a dark stranger who gave her a single silver coin, a token she’s kept secret from her family for almost a decade.

When mutants murder her step father and leave her mother for dead, Billie vows to join the posse with her brother to capture them. The Wild West may be no place for a woman, but Billie isn’t about to take a step back and let the men take charge. They, and the mutants they’re hunting, are about to learn there’s more to this ‘kid’ than meets the eye.

Wow – take what you know about the traditional story of Billy the Kid and push it to the furthest corner of your mind. Then consider a mix of mutants, the supernatural, and an alternative time line that’s completely unexpected. Billie’s path from child to young woman is a perilous one filled with demonic creatures, surprising encounters, and help from an interesting source. It’s this ‘source’ that I found the most intriguing twist when compared with the traditional story’s events. And it’s something I will be keeping in mind as the series progresses. :)

Mr Summerhayes shows a forte for young adult adventures. I think this series will appeal to many readers, not only for the gunfights and battle scenes, but also for the strengths the lead characters possess.


Ripples – Rockingham Writing Centre’s inaugural anthology – various authors

What an amazing collection of stories. There was something to interest every reader in here. Stories on romance, science fiction, memoirs and recollections, suspense, and horror fill its pages. The first story blew me away with its depth of emotion, (I could have done with a ‘needs tissues’ warning.) And the last story filled me with intrigue waiting for the final twist, and it was a good one too. The best part is most of my writing group has a story in the book. :) Very proud of us all. :)

Copies available through Bec Thomas - rockinghamwriterscentre@gmail.com

On my reading list, Demelza Carlton’s Blow, Jingle Stars by Jenny Schwartz, and Baron by Mel Teshco.

It appears I’m feeling nostalgic this year, so I’m sharing a short story I wrote a few years back.

A Broken Star

Melanie gave her eyes another furious rub as if the act alone would force the tears to disappear.
It was so unfair! How could Dad punish her when it was her stupid, clumsy, little brother’s fault? How could he not understand how important the ornament was? Had he forgotten how precious it was to Mum? How much it meant to them all?
Thoughts of her mother brought fresh tears to the twelve-year-old’s eyes, the kind of tears that no amount of denial or heavy handedness could chase away.
Oh, how she missed her.
It was so hard to believe the last time she’d seen her was almost a year ago when she’d kissed Melanie and her brother goodnight before going to work. The accident happened so fast that it was over before any of them realised she was gone. She’d been running late, having stayed long after her shift at the hospital was over. Melanie’s mum was a careful driver. She’d seen the results of far too many accidents in the Emergency Room over the years. None of them thought she’d ever be in the room as a patient, however brief a time it was, and all because some drunken idiot talking on his mobile phone had run through a red light. Her mother never had a chance.
Melanie moved off her bed and walked over to the wall that separated their bedrooms. She pressed an ear against the cool surface and heard the odd shudder of breath that accompanied the aftermath of heartbreaking sobbing. She felt dreadful.
Maybe she shouldn’t have yelled at him. After all, he was only five. He hadn’t meant to break it.
He’d been so excited when their dad said he could take the gold ceramic star out of its many layers of tissue, packed and unpacked with so much love and care over the years. He hadn’t wanted to pass it to Melanie to hang atop the tree though. He’d wanted to do it all by himself, and that’s when everything had gone wrong.
If she closed her eyes, Melanie could still see the fragile star as it fell from his chubby fingers just as she reached down to wrench it from his grasp. The echo of it hitting the tiles, and bouncing once, then twice, before breaking into half a dozen glittering pieces still swam in her ears in ever-increasing circles.
‘How dare you?’ she had roared. ‘That was Mum’s favourite decoration.’
Handed down from Great Grandma, to Grandma, then to Mum, one day, it was supposed to be hers. And then she’d leaned down and yelled that he was the biggest, stupidest jerk for letting something so precious drop and ruin everything.
Melanie’s dad had stepped in just as she was about to raise her hand and slap his already teary little face.
Melanie drew away from the wall and moved over to the window, her guilt about her little brother weighing down on her already heavy shoulders. She could see her father moving about in his shed, rearranging things to the point where Melanie wondered if he had acquired a disorder. He’d never done that while Mum was alive. In fact, she was forever at him to tidy the place up. Now it seemed that’s all he did.
Well, he went to work, he made sure that she and her brother went to school, and the like, and then he would disappear into the shed again.
Since the accident, neither he nor her brother seemed to have a lot to say about anything, and Melanie never felt more alone.
She turned away from the window with a loud sigh and wiped another tear from her cheek as she flung herself back onto the bed.
What a way to spend Christmas Eve! Banished to her room, her brother miserable, and her dad, well, who knew what he was really doing out there. This time last year, she and her mother had been busy making Christmas Cookies, and the kind of rumballs that were known to put an unwary driver over the limit should they dare to have more than a couple of the decadent treats. As for Jared, her brother, he was dragging out some pitiful looking carrots from the bottom of the crisper. He waved them in the air with one hand, and yelled at Mum to give him some cookies so he could leave them for Santa. Meanwhile he’d spilled the milk he held all over the kitchen floor.
Melanie allowed herself a tiny smile. She could almost smell those cookies baking.
Then she sat up so fast she almost fell off the bed. She really could smell cookies baking, but that was impossible.
She rushed to the window. Her dad was still in the shed, and she could hear the odd sniffle coming from the next room, so she knew Jared hadn’t moved either. Besides, he couldn’t reach the oven controls to turn it on, let alone make the dough, and she hadn’t been in her room long enough for her dad to have time to make a batch either. Melanie turned and took in a deep breath, filling her nostrils with the delicious scent.
She couldn’t be imagining such a tantalising aroma, could she?
Another delicate sniff drew her closer to her bedroom door. The scent seemed to be wafting up from underneath it. Her dad had banished her to her room for the rest of the afternoon, but Melanie hesitated for just a second longer before she opened her door and stepped out into the hall.
She didn’t notice the sound of the door opening behind her as she walked past her brother’s room, nor was she aware of Jared poking his head out the door, all set to yell at her that he was going to tell Dad she was out of her room. She didn’t realise that he’d stopped, sniffed at the air, and was now following her down the hall. Melanie headed towards the kitchen, because that’s where the smell was coming from, wasn’t it?
However, when she got there, it was as if the trail had gone cold. She couldn’t smell a thing. She turned and spied her brother. His wide-eyed look of shock told her that she hadn’t been imagining things. He did a little hiccup as he drew in a breath, turned in the direction that led to the bedroom her parents had once shared, and then looked back at Melanie with a toothy grin, holding out one chubby little hand to her.
‘This way,’ he said, surprising Melanie as much by talking as she’d been shocked to discover the mysterious aroma.
Melanie glanced down and smiled. She never could stay angry with him for long. She held tight to his hand, gave it a little squeeze, and followed him. They walked into the bedroom, the smell of baking once more leading the way. Jared stopped at their mother’s bedside table. He didn’t open the drawer though. He waited for his big sister to do it. Giving him another smile, Melanie pulled open the drawer as if some priceless treasure was about to be revealed. Her mouth fell open as her mother’s cookery book emerged, the one that held her favourite Christmas recipes.
Mum had always kept it on the shelf with her other recipe books. How did it get in here?
Before she could give any proper thought to the matter, Jared was putting the book in one of her hands, and tugging on the other to lead her out of the room, his little button nose held aloft as he sniffed at the air like a dog on the track of something too delightful to ignore. Melanie drew in another breath, and this time, she could smell the pungent mix of rum and coconut.
In minutes, they were in the lounge room, not that Melanie wanted to go in there. That’s where the Christmas tree was, all trimmed and beautiful, yet missing the beautiful star that should be sitting atop it. It reminded her why she was sad and what had upset her in the first place. Still, she let her brother lead her towards the empty box that had held all the decorations. Only it wasn’t empty anymore.
Her mouth agape, and her eyes wide as she looked inside the box, was the golden star. What’s more, it was intact. It was as if the ceramic treasure had never been broken. Melanie couldn’t even see the joins where her dad must have glued it together.
And he must have done it, mustn’t he?
She had to remind herself that he was still out in the shed. With great care, Jared reached in, picked up the ornament, and turned to give it to his sister. Melanie put down the cookery book, put her arms around her little brother’s waist, and picked him up. Together, they managed to reach the top of the tree and set the star in place.
***
Lured inside by the smell of baking, their father froze in the doorway. His tears of anguish became tears of joy, and his heart was light as he watched his children working together at the kitchen bench. He didn’t mind that there was more flour on the floor and on his son’s face than in the bowl. He didn’t care that quite a lot of rum had disappeared from the once full bottle, or that the neck of said bottle lay hidden under coconut and chocolate sprinkle fingerprints. He leaned against the door and smiled at the joy that adorned his children’s faces, and in that moment, the scent of a familiar perfume invaded his nostrils.
At first, he was startled, and then he remembered a long ago promise he had made with his wife. She had found a way to let him know that wherever she was now, that she was okay, and in his heart, he knew that he and their children would be okay too. She was watching over them, just as the golden star watched over their little family all these years. He would pick up the pieces from the container he’d placed them in, and somehow try to fix it in just a moment. For now, he was content to bask in the happiness of his children and enjoy the scent of Christmas baking, and the hint of Chanel No. 5 that lingered in the air.

The End.

News

My copy-editing jobs are done for the year, and our writing group had a wonderful little Christmas party with too much delicious food. We already have our assignments for the first meeting next year and I look forward to another ‘term’ with Romance Writers Australia (RWA) in my ambassadorial role. The goals are coming together. I still want to attempt that script, I’ve finished editing one story and started another, and I have two new stories to write. And I’m sure I’ll find a competition or three along the way. 

There’ll be more copy editing to do to keep me out of mischief, but in the meantime, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all who celebrate it. For those who don’t, I hope you enjoy special times and your own celebrations with your loved ones too. And big hugs for those who find this time of year difficult.


See you next year. :)

Saturday, 25 November 2017

67. Ripples

Hello dear readers. Can you believe it’s been twelve months since my family made the big move west? I can’t. I’m not sure where the time went, but we did manage some exploring of our new state.

We visited an interesting little place known as Gnomesville in the Ferguson Valley. Now, few people know how Gnomesville came to be. Some say it started as a joke. Some say a statue was left behind and people began leaving gnomes and other ornaments there so it wouldn’t feel lonely. It’s not lonely now considering there are an estimated five thousand gnomes there, and tourists are leaving more ornaments behind with each visit. While my youngest loved the place, and so did the many other kids scrambling around, I can’t say Gnomesville was my kind of town. Maybe it’s my paranormal side showing, but there were too many pairs of eyes following my every move...


Fortunately, our trip to the valley led to a more interesting place (for me) and we wound up at the Moody Cow Brewery. I’m giving away a family secret here – my youngest has a changeable temperament, and her nickname is Moo Cow, so we had a big laugh when we saw the name of the brewery. My youngest, however, didn’t understand what was so funny. After a delicious lunch, I came home with a small keg of their homemade chilled cider. It was divine. Come to think of it, it’s about time we returned so I can refill my keg. :) I’ll save Gnomesville for the visitors – the lucky devils.

We also ventured to the Perth Zoo. I think meerkats are gorgeous, and I was stunned to learn lemurs really do sit similar to us. I thought that was just in the animated movie, Madagascar, but here’s the photo to prove it.



We also took in the sights of Perth’s main street mall, shops, and laneways. (You can tell we’re not big city folk, right?) And we ventured south to Margaret River and visited a winery, (I’m sensing a pattern here – lol) and we sampled many, many treats at the Chocolate Factory. :)

In my last blog, you would have read about our adventures to Kings Park and Araluen Gardens. The kids settled into their new schools, and my hubby into his new job. We’ve made some great new friends here as well as catching up with a few old friends too. We survived our first ‘real’ winter, well, real for us, and blossomed into our first wildflower filled spring, although we could have done without the hay fever. Now it’s time to discover if there’s some real heat here because our first summer in WA was decidedly cooler than expected. Maybe we’ve acclimatised now. At least I know we won’t be in for a humid Christmas, for no matter how much I miss my family and friends back home, I certainly don’t miss the humidity.

I’m settling in too though. I’ve met one of my writing idols, Jenny Schwartz, whose latest book I’m reviewing. I’ve also met some fabulous authors whose writing I admire, dare I say envy, and like every author I’ve met, there are so many wonderful people here who are generous with their time, advice, and encouragement. It’s been wonderful to meet them in the real world, and not just chatting online. I’ve attended some fabulous workshops and book launches, which leads me to sharing the cover of Rockingham Writers Group’s inaugural anthology – Ripples. :) I love the cover. :)


If anyone in the area is free to attend, we’d love to see you there. :) They have printed copies for the launch, but if there are plans for an e-book version, I’ll let you know. I’m excited to read the other stories and poems, and I hope everyone enjoys my contribution too. :)

Book Reviews

ASHER – SCI FI ALIEN ROMANCE (DRAGONS OF RIDDICK) by Mel Teshco

The dragons will search the universe for their one true mate...

Riddich king, Asher Mannett, has more to worry about than the agony of shifting into his dragon form. Tantonics, his alien enemies, will do anything to invade and destroy him and his people, and extract their vital energy.
When the last Riddich stronghold is breached, Asher boards a craft and escapes his planet along with a handful of his people. They crash land on Earth, where a rare few human women can breed with his species, giving his people hope of continuing their genetic line.

Thanks to her now dead fiancé, Luke, Marissa Kinkaid’s life has gone from one of decadent luxury to hardship. But then a huge, wounded dragon bursts into her life and opens her eyes to the dreary existence she’s accepted as her own. A life she no longer wants.
Despite her fear of abandonment, leaving her drought-affected farm with Asher seems far less complicated than facing Asher’s Tantonic enemies. She can’t imagine a life without the big, sexy alien in it. But will she lose him too before they’ve even had a chance at love?

Asher is the king of a destroyed planet. While the few remaining survivors are scattered throughout the universe, he, his sister, and a few of his closest friends have sought sanctuary on Earth. He wished he’d listened to his younger brother, Kadin, but now they’re on the same planet, perhaps they can make amends. But first, he must find safety before the Tantonics, the enemy, or the local inhabitants find him. Injured in the crash landing, he escapes the burning spacecraft and staggers into the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but could that attraction simply be because he senses in her the ability to renew his decimated race?

Marissa thought love died when her fiancé did and she’d never find happiness again. That changes the moment a giant of a man charges into her life with a look in his eyes that is anything but human. Thoughts of his true nature are brushed aside when she realises he needs help. But that assistance comes at a price because Asher’s enemies are now her enemies, and Marissa’s about to learn her past isn’t all it seems either.

Another delightful story from Ms Teshco that tugs at the heartstrings and keeps her readers turning pages. Oh, and a little bit of her signature naughtiness for added flavour. This is the second in the Dragons of Riddick series and all the twists and turns are just as inviting. Even better, book three is out now. :)


ODD HOURS by Dean Koontz

Intuition has brought Odd Thomas to the quaint town of Magic Beach on the California coast. As he waits to learn why he has been drawn there, he finds work as a cook and assistant to a once-famous film actor who, at eighty, has become an eccentric with as long a list of fears as he has stories about Hollywood’s golden days.

Odd is having dreams of a red tide, vague but worrisome. By day he senses a free-floating fear in the air of the town, as if unleased by the crashing waves. But nothing prepares him for the hard truth of what he will discover as he comes face to face with a form of evil that will test him as never before...

With his supernatural gifts taking the lead, Odd Thomas finds himself far from the town of his birth. He dreams of a cataclysmic event, but nothing makes sense. What’s more puzzling is while he can sense so much death and destruction, the bodachs he associates with these events are nowhere to be seen. And what does it all have to do with the mysterious Annamaria, a young woman who also appears to have a tight grasp on the psychic world? And why, when she asks if he’d die for her, does Odd say yes without the slightest hesitation? In Magic Beach, it’s not clear who’s friend and who’s foe, but if Odd wants to make it out alive, he must learn to tell the difference fast.

This book had a different feel to the previous ones in the series. While I enjoyed it, there wasn’t the same sense of urgency in Odd Hours. I did however, love the short timeframe in which the events took place and the way Odd internalised his experiences. I felt rather than be taken along by the events of the story, he was more proactive. I found a few of the secondary characters intriguing, and I’m keen to discover if they make a reappearance elsewhere in the Odd series. While Odd Thomas remains a fictional character who I wish I could meet, Odd Hours sets its own pace before it reaches its climax. I’m keen to find out what happens next.


COSMIC CATALYST (SHAMANS AND SHIFTERS SPACE OPERA – BOOK 2) by Jenny Schwartz

Everyone has secrets. But some people will risk the galaxy to protect theirs.

When starship shaman Jaya Romanov and her new mate partner, galactic bounty hunter and robot wolf shifter, Vulf Trent, saved the galaxy from the deadly actions of a determined geriatric terrorist, they forgot that old Earth truism: no good deed goes unpunished.

Now, the galaxy is exploding with unexpected aliens, greedy politicians—well, that’s normal enough, it’s what the politicians will attempt that is worrying—and a radically new aspect to sha energy that has the potential to change everything.

And then there’s the mystery of Jaya’s father…who is he? Some big secrets are lurking in Jaya’s past, and to save those she loves, she’ll be forced to risk the galaxy in a shoot ’em up, take-no-prisoners rescue because sometimes there’s no fighting your destiny.

Fortunately, Vulf is always ready for a fight!

Political campaigners use dangerous tactics when members of the Human sector decide they want more power in the Galaxy Proper – a consortium of alien races. The last to join the consortium thanks to another of the alien races taking pity on the humans who’d destroyed their own planet, Jaya and Vulf find themselves political pawns in a game that has dire consequences for all involved. New alliances, old enemies, and those with their own agenda come together in this story of political greed and power. And through it all, Jaya must rely on her shaman gifts and her love for the promise of family that Vulf offers if she’s to succeed where so many others have failed.

I enjoyed this twist in storyline Ms Schwartz used. In fact, I could easily picture the book in my mind as if I was watching a sci fi movie with all its twists, negotiations, double dealing, and humour. There was great attention to detail with the world building for this story, and I can already see how it’s going to work for future stories in the series. All the elements are there. And leading the reader from one book to the next is something Ms Schwartz does so well. And if you click on the link provided, you’ll find the next book in this series has just been released. :)


On my list next month, the next in the Odd Thomas series, Paul Summerhayes’ latest release – Billie the Kid from his Sky Fire Chronicles series, some snippets from the Ripples anthology, and Ms Schwartz’ Shattered Earth. :)

News

It’s been another busy month, and I’m starting to feel repetitive on that point. There’s several family birthdays in November, and three of them are in my immediate family – and that’s counting one of the dogs. Everyone’s a year older and a year wiser, except the dog, although I suspect two years for a pup is much too young to be wise. Anyway, with everything going on, I must admit I’ve cheated. The baking tins are still packed, so the family enjoyed a store-bought cake this year. This meant they were saved from my questionable attempts at decorating said cake too. :)

My latest editing job involves some strong philosophical themes, so I’m reading a few intense theories. I have the anthology launch to look forward to, and a book launch to attend for a lovely author’s newest release. My writing group will be interesting considering we’re sharing the opening paragraphs of our current works in progress. I look forward to some great feedback there. My personal editing is progressing, but it appears the script I planned to work on may spill over to next year’s goals. You never know, Christmas is a time for miracles, so I may just get it done.


Next month means a free story for you, yay! But until then, may beautiful words fill your souls with wonder. :)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

66. It's Wild Out West!

It’s wild out west! Wild with flowers, that is. Spring has brought with it some of the most beautiful Western Australian wildflowers, so this month I took time out to enjoy some sightseeing with the family.

We ventured to two of the South West’s gardens, Kings Park in Perth, and Araluen Botanical Gardens in Roleystone amid the Darling Ranges. Kings Park contains more of the native flora, where Araluen features ‘exotic’ varieties in the form of roses and tulips. The variety and colours were amazing. Golden yellows, burgundy reds, vivid oranges, shocking pinks – it was a kaleidoscope of wonder.

Kings Park meant we trekked to Perth were there was as many varieties of wildflowers on the side of the road as there was in the park itself. I don’t know the correct botanical names, but Kings Park has a magnificent display of wildflowers as well as wild ducks, snakes, and in some cases, some wild kids too.(I swear they weren’t mine.)








I wish I knew all the names, but I have wattle, banksia, and Western Australia's floral emblem, the Kangaroo Paw sorted. And aww, baby ducks. :)

We also took shots of the beautiful Swan River, the war memorial commemorating our ANZAC’s, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the café where I had a Cidery Spider Cider. I’m pleased to say that was the only ‘spider’ I saw.






The following weekend we travelled to Araluen. Again, the roadside wildflowers were just as beautiful, and the hour-long journey was made longer by someone’s insistence we stop and take photos... Anyway, where King’s Park was dedicated to native flora, Araluen Gardens is a delightful mix of wild and introduced flowers. This is the first time I’ve seen a tulip outside of a photograph. So beautiful. There were also so many gorgeous, pungent roses I’m sure I had more pollen on my nose than any of the bees could possibly carry.









 We also managed to work some muscles walking around these places, especially in Araluen given it was terraced into the range, and we started at the very bottom and worked our way up to see the roses before heading back down again. While we were at the top, we spotted a little ‘train’, which carries guests to the top to see the roses and then drops them off at the café. Hmm, well I guess my aching legs and I will remember that for next time.

I travelled to Armadale earlier in the month to attend a Short Story Essentials Workshop and caught  up with my lovely friend and writer, Sonia Bellhouse. Sonia, whom I officially met last month at the Rockingham Writers Convention in Baldivis, welcomed me in her official capacity as Liaison Co-Ordinator, and then we met the group’s guest author, Nadia L King. Ms King has several short stories published, is a former journalist, and is completing a Young Adult novel that I’m sure will make an enormous impact on its readership given its contemporary and controversial theme.

Ms King explained how short stories can show more about real life than life itself. The power of a short story is often what the reader doesn’t see, but is left with evocative images and conclusions of their own. Short stories are a wonderful way to hone your craft, and to build a body of work as well as enhance your writing reputation. We covered the five main elements of short story writing – Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict, and Theme. With short stories, every word counts and must work in the story. Setting makes a story real, and places the reader into the story. Characters must be believable and relatable. Most short stories have only one plot, but they still need an introduction, a rising act, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution.

Conflict is essential to a story no matter its length whether it’s an internal or an external struggle. Conflict creates drama and entices the reader to continue reading. The theme lets your reader know where the story is taking them, gives them some expectation, but still allows you to give a story your own twist. The real skill in short stories is in the editing. You must make sure every word and every sentence counts to leave the reader with a satisfactory conclusion.

Amongst these nuggets of information, we also did some writing exercises, which were fun and challenging. Some of us were even brave enough to read them out. :)

You can find more about Ms King, her workshops, and her stories here. :)


When I wasn’t sightseeing, pigging out in cafes, or attending workshops, I managed to tackle some of the reading pile. :)

Book Reviews

SILVER REAPER by Shelley Russell Nolan

How far would you go to save those marked for Death?
When the call to reap uncovers a new threat to Easton and its inhabitants, Tyler is drawn back into a world she thought she’d left behind.

Forced to face her greatest fears, she seeks to uncover the identity of the rogue reaper murdering men employed by her former ally. But the search leads her to a conspiracy decades in the making.

With the line between friends and enemies blurring, Tyler begins to question her loyalties as she fights to stop the storm threatening to engulf Easton. But when the Grim Reaper offers the last hope, death might be the least of her problems.
Who can Tyler trust when even her allies want her dead?

Six months after the fierce battle, which saw her defeat Almorthanos and the Tr’lirians who sided with him, Davilian descendent, Tyler Morgan has moved on. She and Sam are happily together. She’s still Reaping for the Grim Reaper, but she’s in control this time, and clear in her duties. She may have to collect souls, but if she can save one, that’s exactly what she’s going to do.

When Second-in-Command, Killian’s daughter goes missing, and Tr’lirians are being murdered, Tyler finds herself in Cade’s presence once more. But the leader of the Tr’lirians’ clan isn’t interested in finding the murderers or the missing woman. He’s plotting to destroy Tyler’s entire Davilian bloodline, and he’s more than happy to start with her.

Tyler Morgan goes from strength to strength in this story in many ways. Ms Nolan has taken the reader on yet another journey, and stepped up her game when it comes to storytelling. Clues hinted at in the previous two books make sense in this third instalment in which Tyler takes on more than she bargained for. The twists, turns, and changing allegiances keep the reader guessing until the conclusion, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure we’ve seen the last of this Reaper.


BROTHER ODD by Dean R Koontz

Loop me in, odd one.

The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favourite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature.

As he steadfastly journeys toward his mysterious destiny, Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself.

A world-famous physicist is conducting experiments in the catacombs of the abbey. Could this be why Odd can once again see bodachs, shadowy harbingers of violence and death? The prowl the halls, suggesting horror to come.

Odd retreats to a monastery in the High Sierra to distance himself from the emotional horrors of his lost love, and the close encounter he had with death. Although he’s not particularly clinging to life, he knows he has a purpose to fulfil before he can join Stormy once more. While Odd thinks he has time to recharge, the paranormal world has other plans. And this time, his ability to converse with ghosts might not be enough. Intent on keeping the brothers, and the sisters and their young charges living across the way, safe, Odd finds that even the humans he’s trying to help aren’t all they seem. The line between friend and enemy is becoming very blurred.

I loved this. It’s my favourite of the Odd series so far. The experiments the physicist conducted resonated with me. I am fascinated that such a thing could be a possibility. So many cultures have made mention of it, so I wonder if the mind is as powerful as suggested. My writing brain is ticking over with possibilities. I also loved the character twists. I’ve come to rely on Odd’s judgement, so I love how Mr Kootnz dealt with that too. Someone pretty please read it so I can talk about the experiments. LOL


MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD by Charlaine Harris

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and the Davy highway.

It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town. There’s a pawnshop with three residents. One is seen only at night. There’s a diner, but people stopping there tend not to linger. There’s a newcomer, Manfred Bernardo, who just wants to work hard and blend in. But Manfred has secrets of his own...

Midnight Crossroad is the first in a series about a place called Midnight. While it has all the normal amenities one would expect to find in a small town in Texas, the fulltime inhabitants are another matter. None of them are what they appear to be, and for newcomer, Manfred Bernardo, a Gypsy descendent, that suits him just fine. After all, he has his own secrets, well, gifts, that allow him to discover his new hometown harbours a gorgeous witch, an enigmatic vampire, a beautiful woman he suspects is an assassin, and a few residents he’s not exactly sure of, but he knows they’re not human. Then there’s Creek, the only person closest to him in age in the town, and someone he’d very much like to know better, not that her father’s going to let that happen.

They’ve all settled in the Crossroads for their own reasons, and now that Manfred’s joined them, his life is about to turn in a whole new direction.

I loved Ms Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels from which the TV series, ‘Trueblood’, is based. These new books also inspired a new TV series, ‘Midnight, Texas’. This book contains the supernatural beings and mystical elements I loved in the Sookie series, but this sets a more genteel pace. I liked that, human or otherwise, even the most ordinary character made you think twice about their actions and motivations. Two were so unexpected in their progress from the beginning to the end of the book, and I only suspected one of them of something sinister. I’m keen to know where the next in the series will take me, but for the time being, the next book hasn’t had another print run yet.

You can find more of Ms Harris’s works here: http://charlaineharris.com/

THE POINT OF LOVE by Monique Mulligan

New girl in town and journalist, Lexie, has been targeted by developers who want to sell her their vision for a marina at Mangles Bay. On paper, the proposal looks good, but when Hands Off Point Peron spokesman and Thor-lookalike Andrew Fletcher takes her to nearby Point Peron, she starts to have second thoughts.

A date at Penguin Island sets the scene for love, but when Lexie’s front page story about the marina is published, Andrew is far from impressed and wants nothing to do with her. Will Lexie be able to turn the situation around? Or is the story a deal-breaker for Andrew?

With gorgeous coastal settings and laugh-out-loud antics, The Point of Love is like a sweet breath of fresh air for the romantic’s soul.

Lexie is working hard in her journalism career despite the editor-from-hell’s dubious input. She’s chasing all the angles to perfect her first front page story, and if interviewing the sexiest man she’s ever seen is part of the bargain, well, she’s going to pull on her big girl panties and get on with it.

Of course, she never intended flashing said panties, but Thor, er, she means Andrew, doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he takes her on a wonderful date and shows her why he loves the bay he’s so keen to protect.

But when Lexie’s story is printed, an embarrassed Andrew cuts her off cold. He won’t let Lexi explain. He doesn’t want to hear the truth. With other readers voicing their concerns over her article, Lexie is at a loss what to do. One thing’s for certain, if she wants Andrew back, Lexie must turn the headlines around or risk losing not only her career, but the love of her life too.

I loved the comedic moments, innuendo, and word play. (The story stayed on the sweet side.) I also liked the way it showed how difficult relationships are if the people involved in them aren’t prepared to listen. A fun, humorous, thought provoking story.

More on Ms Mulligan here.   http://moniquemulligan.com/

News

Well the news is better this month where writing is concerned. On the great roller coaster that is my journey to publication, one of my short stories has been accepted for an anthology, which will be published at the end of the year. :) I am so excited my little story is going to appear in the same book as some of the region’s writing royalty along with other aspiring writers like me. I can’t wait to read them all. :)


The goals are coming along, with a short story or three thrown in for good measure, and I just found another competition to enter. (Clearly, I am a glutton for punishment.) I’m tweaking the last two chapters on the novella before sending it out once again. Editing the novel is coming along, and I’m halfway through another copy-editing job with a potential new client set for next month. In all, it’s been another busy, exciting month exploring my new home state, meeting some amazing authors, and reading some wonderful books. I hope you’ve all been equally as blessed. :)