Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Writing rituals and other habits

Recently, I was asked what my writing rituals are. My knee-jerk reaction was, "I don't have any!" But now upon reflection, I'm starting to suspect I was wrong.

The trouble is when I think about ritual, I picture consistency and regularity—neither of which describe me very well. Quite the opposite. "Inconsistent" and "doesn't apply herself" pretty much dominated my school report cards ever since I was old enough to get them.

When it comes to writing, my "rituals" are more like "habits" or even "superstitions", and they change even more frequently than the seasons. But for the sake of answering this question, here are the three most somewhat regularly occurring quirks that nudge my writing along...

Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

Making a cup of tea

This tends to happen when I get stuck in the middle of writing a scene. My hypothesis is that my brain craves some freshly oxygenated blood, which forces me onto my feet and away from my desk. Half the time, this means I walk to the fridge, open the door, then shut it again, realising I don't actually want something to eat.

The other half of the time, I put the kettle on and shuffle around the kitchen while waiting for water to boil. By the time I get back to my desk, I have a pretty good idea of what to write down next.

Working on my newsletter

As weird as it sounds, putting my newsletter together somehow manages to help me find focus. I think it's because I'm forced to re-frame my thoughts within a structure and timeframe, and that approach follows me back into my "writing zone".

I don't know too many other people who use one type of work to get another type of work done, but it's a little trick that's always worked for me. The downside, of course, is accidentally winding up overworked if I'm not being careful.

Changing the music

I make individual playlists for each WIP (like this one for my upcoming book, "The Guy From The Internet"), but once in a while, they don't put me in the right frame of mind to work on the story. Sometimes the vocals are too distinct and lyrical, so I can't concentrate on writing my own words. Other times, even when the music fits the scene, it doesn't work with the mood I have to be in to get the story out.

So I keep a stash of chilled out, emotionally calm music on hand. Piano jazz mixes on YouTube feature greatly in this collection.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Thank You — Dido

Taking some time today to think about what I'm grateful for. This week especially, I'm looking at good friends, good health and being on the tail end of the cold season. Summer is just around the corner, and I hope to have a new book out real soon.

Here's a very on-theme song for this Monday's mood:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Charlotte's Challenge by Caroline Clemmons

Today's guest feature is by Caroline Clemmons, introducing her shiny new book, "Charlotte's Challenge", a western historical romance featuring a strong heroine and a cavalier adventurer who gets more than he bargained for.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Guy From The Internet — a soundtrack

Music makes the moment. Well, it does for me, anyway. If "The Guy From The Internet" were a movie and I got to put the soundtrack together, here's how it would go.

Listen to it on YouTube.
  1. M2M — Pretty Boy
  2. Calum Scott — You Are The Reason
  3. Snow Patrol — Chasing Cars
  4. Keane — Somewhere Only We Know
  5. Fergie — Big Girls Don't Cry
  6. Hoobastank — The Reason
  7. Olivia Ong — Kiss Me
  8. PennYo — Hong Dou (Red Bean)
  9. Tanya Chua — Mo Qi (Chemistry)
  10. Knapsack (feat. Êmia) — Inferior
  11. Tiffany Alvord & Chester See — Love Me Like You Do
  12. Chester See & Tiffany Alvord — Perfect

Monday, September 21, 2020

My All — Mariah Carey

Where have the years gone? I remember when this song came out. I remember the kind of clothes I wore, what hijinks my friends got up to (that my folks would never let me go out and do). I still sing this in the shower sometimes. Is it really 2020 already?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Healed By Love — group giveaway ends 1 Oct

Only a couple weeks left in the Healed By Love group giveaway on StoryOrigin. Find yourself a new favourite read featuring the healing power of romance 💗

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Writing Inspo — 16 Sep 2020

I don't drink a lot these days, nor have I been much of a pub-goer in the years leading up to 2020. So I don't really yearn for nightlife and beverages and parties in the same way I used to when I was younger.

But I do find a lot of inspiration in the memories and possibilities. As I work my way through my WIPs, I remember fun times, carefree evenings, silly banter, and the random unpredictable shenanigans with friends.

Not every memory is happy, of course. And not every daydream possibility leads to someplace practical, but that's okay. At least they make a good story.

Photo by Roan Lavery on Unsplash

Friday, September 11, 2020

Fresh starts with Addison Brae

Author Addison Brae joins us today to talk about her exciting romantic suspense novel released earlier this year: "Dark Energy: Return to Becker Circle". It's an intriguing title with an even more intriguing premise.

Addison, what sparked a story like this?

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Guy From The Internet — cover reveal

I'm super excited to finally reveal the cover of my upcoming sweet contemporary romance novella, "The Guy From The Internet". It's an #OwnVoices work of fiction inspired by real life dynamics in a first-generation immigrant family.

The Guy From The Internet

A sweet romance with a touch of family drama.

Holly Chee does not have her life together. She’s flip-flopped on uni courses and career choices, and somehow scared off her long-term fiancée-to-be, much to the chagrin of her immigrant parents.

But she does have her streaming channel, where she broadcasts her art from her one-bedroom Mount Lawley apartment. And she has that guy from France… assuming he’s even who he says he is.

Monday, September 7, 2020

All Out Of Love — Olivia Ong

While I'm on a covers kick, here's a cover of one of my favourite songs. It's from a Somerville Stories writing playlist for "The Guy From The Library".

Curiously, I've stalled on that WIP, as I'm struggling to get the chemistry right between the main characters (Andrea and Jackson). And I've stalled on compiling this playlist, because I'm not totally sure about the mood I'm writing to.

Perhaps making some progress one one will help the other along. But for now, please enjoy this lovely little tune. Happy listening!

Friday, September 4, 2020

The weather where I live

Where I live, the climate is remarkably pleasant. So pleasant that, by and large, the weather is a thing worth having a conversation about. Small-talk so easily grows to big talk, and even complaining comes with a tacit understanding that we're very lucky here in Western Australia.

There are crazy hot days. And crazy cold days. And days we'd call extreme by comparison. Those aren't as nice, but they're nothing compared to the extended greys of London or Seattle. Or the frosty weather in Alaska. Or the oppressive heat of New York and Dubai. Or the humidity of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

I love the feeling of being "swaddled" by the climate here, and take none of it for granted. Many times, my dear significant other and I have talked about living in a different city for a while. Many times, people have told me I should give it a go for the life experience and to broaden my horizons.

But the truth is I love it in Perth. It's the perfect place for my equatorial blood and seasonal appetites. It's home.

Photo by Josh Spires on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Guy From The Wedding — Chapter 3

Laura's apartment was in no state to be entertaining guests. But this Aidan guy was no guest, she rationalised. Not really, anyway. It's not like she was trying to impress him, not after the way he acted at Sarah's wedding. But even if Laura did overlook that, it's not like she'd made a great first impression herself.

But, goodness, he was something to behold. She didn't expect him to strip down so casually when she asked him for his shirt. He leaned against the back of the couch after checking his pants for spills. Judging by his athletic frame and thick shoulders, he must have been into footy or boxing, one of those sports. And somehow, the relaxed, bleary-eyed post-wedding look on his face made him look even more attractive as he raked his fingers through his short brown hair and shook out the rain.

He looked at her. She casually turned to the washer-dryer, as if she hadn't been staring that whole time. She hit the button and the noise of running water covered up the silence.

"So, Laura, how do you know Sarah?" she asked, waiting just a little longer at the machine to clear the awkward air after almost being caught.

"She's a friend of a friend."

"And you didn't sit with them?"

"No, they couldn't make it. How do you know her?"

"We were neighbours when we were little. I barely know her these days."

Aidan gave her a half-smile, but it could still light up a whole room. "I barely know her at all."

"But you still went?"

His smile faded. He seemed irritated by her question. Laura glanced at the timer on the washing machine. When she turned back to him, he just shrugged folded his arms in front of his toned chest. Clearing her throat, she trundled to the kitchen and began putting away her shopping.

"What were you doing buying all that this late at night?" Aidan asked, moving from the couch to the bar stools on the other side of the kitchen counter.

"I was gonna make pancakes."

"Pancakes? At this hour? You know that'll go straight to your hips."

Laura froze. Did he just say what she thought he said? This was what she gets for trying to be good to people—yet another misogynistic jerk firing off yet another thoughtless hot take. Blueberries in hand, she spun around.

"Excuse me?"


"Did you just say 'that'll go straight to your hips'?"


"You know that's body shaming, right? Do you know what that is?"

"I wasn't body shaming you."

"Uh, yeah, you kind of did."

"If you want to take it that way, it's up to you. But that's not how I meant it."

"Wow, just wow. Maybe it's better you just don't talk anymore while you're waiting. Here—" Laura chucked the berries into the fridge and shut the door hard. She grabbed his phone from the coffee table and handed it to him.

As she turned to walk away, he grabbed her wrist. Her body geared up for a fight, but he let go as soon as he got her attention, holding up an open palm.

"Look, I'm sorry if I offended you, but that's not what I meant at all. It was a joke. I was just making conversation. I thought we could have a laugh."

Laura sized him up. Her temper still ran hot, but if she was being honest, she expected a far worse apology than the wet one he offered. She crossed her arms and nodded.

"Fine. Apology accepted."

Aidan asked if he could go freshen up in the bathroom. Laura told him where to find the spare towels and as she heard the bathroom door close, she flicked the TV on, let out a loud sigh and shook it off.

A laugh, he'd said. Once upon a time, she would have laughed at a comment like that too, and she was still undecided now if that was a good or bad thing.

She flopped on the couch and started typing a message to Bec, but gave up halfway through and tossed her phone back onto the table. She cuddled her legs and a cushion and rested her forehead on her knees.

"Must stop complaining to Bec," she mumbled into the dumpy foam. Over the news, she heard the washer beep and switch over to dryer mode.

Aidan's shirt was ready just before he was. He emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam and the fresh smell of soap. Laura rolled her eyes. What kind of guy takes a hot shower in the middle of summer?

Well, this guy was a strange one. He didn't seem like a complete arse—just a two-thirds one at least—but for all she knew, he could have been a bit of a weirdo. She should have known really, given she met him in Sarah Simpson's social network.

As he buttoned up, she went back to the kitchen and began pulling out ingredients. After all this fuss, she was definitely having pancakes tonight.

The rain still bucketed down outside. Without thinking, Laura offered him an umbrella. "Well, you know where I live now, so you can just return it. I'm home all day tomorrow and after 5 on Monday."

But as he left, she silently cursed into the fridge. After all this fuss, she'd forgotten to buy the milk.

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"The Guy from the Internet" is now available on Kindle Unlimited

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