Friday, July 30, 2021

WIP sneak peek: "The Guy from the Library"

I've been working on The Guy from the Library, the next short story in the Somerville Stories collection. The creative process stalled for a long time late last year/early this year. Work and life got hectic and anything Somerville-related took a back seat.

But I have a little excerpt to share with you today. It's from the unedited and still-going first draft, so please excuse any typos and errors. They should be ironed out by the time this is ready for publish. I hope you like it!
Andrea froze. Never in her life had she asked for a guy's number. Especially for a guy she'd only just met.

But this wasn't the same thing, was it? For starters, she wasn't asking for a phone number in that way, and neither was he. This was purely about the dog. She had no reason to feel shy about this. She bit her tongue and vowed not to make a big deal of this very simple exchange.

Still, she fumbled her phone when she handed it to him. Jackson caught it deftly in one hand and she couldn't help but stare at the intricately woven red, yellow and black threads of his bracelet while he typed out his number.
Stay tuned for more news about The Guy from the Library.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Guest Post: Why, Why, Why by Christina Bauer

As part of the launch tour for my newest book, FAIRIES AND FROSTING, the lovely folks at Birdie’s Song’s Blog asked me to share a bit about my “why,” as in: Why do I write? Why do I write in this genre? And, why did I create this book?

Without further ado, here goes!

Friday, July 23, 2021

My newsletter is now powered by SendFox

My newsletter is now powered by the SendFox platform.

Hopefully everything runs smoothly when the next issue goes out in a week or so.

If not, I hope you'll be patient with me as I'm still learning how to use this system!

Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash

Friday, July 16, 2021

My perfect weekend getaway (a staycation)

For all intents and purposes, we are homebound at the moment. Not housebound — we're very much out and about within our city's COVID-safe rules. But between work commitments, life commitments, "being good" spending and "being good" saving, we have no plans to leave town anytime soon.

We are, however, doing the responsible thing and getting vaccinated this month, and have decided to preempt the appropriate immune response symptoms with a mid-week getaway homeaway staycation 😎

So, under conditions like these, what would make a perfect weekend holiday? Here's what I reckon:

Camping on the couch
This is nothing like actual camping — not even close. What this looks like on a cold Perth July day is two cosy bods cocooned in all the quilts and blankets you can find around the house. It can be wonderfully romantic if you want, or simply the perfect way to keep warm and enjoy the winter vibes.

Movie marathon
Streaming on-demand video more than makes up for the demise of the video store around the corner. Back in the day, you'd get a 5 for $10 weekend special. Now it's an endless selection on Netflix/Stan/BritBox/Prime, whether it's movies or a good old-fashioned series bingewatch. My favourite "couples viewing" is a hilarious comedy or suspenseful drama.

Games and puzzles
I'm a nerd and definitely not ashamed of it. Multiplayer games are a hilarious (if, at times, frustrating) opportunity to work and strategise together towards a common goal, aka. an awesome bonding experience for partners who thrive on collaborating with each other. If you need a break from tech, grab a jigsaw puzzle, crossword or Sudoku sheet.

Snacks, all the snacks
Sweet, savoury, healthy, indulgent — it doesn't matter. When you're staycationing at home, you need sustenance. Some people like preparing finger foods in advance (eg. biscuits, sandwiches, bars, balls, etc.), but we're fond of gathering simple ingredients and assembling them on the spot (eg. cheese board, mini-wraps, etc.).

A little body-moving
This last one may be contentious, but I count exercise as a leisure activity. Forget "toning up" or "losing weight", this one's all about feeling good. Get blood flowing and oxygen to the brain, then feel great when you sit back and relax again 😄

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

An excerpt from Tell Me S'more by Beth Merlin (plus giveaway!)


“Perry, don’t be mad,” Gigi said from inside the bedroom’s closet.

“I’m not mad, exactly. I just don’t understand why your mother’s so well informed of our financial situation.”

She slowly stepped out of the closet doorway. “Because I’ve had to borrow some money from my parents, that’s why.”

I stood up from the corner of the bed. “What do you mean? How much money?”

“Enough to meet a few mortgage payments.”

“How long’s that been going on?”

When Gigi finally decided to pursue her dream of designing instead of law school, her parents cut her off financially. She used every penny of her Top Designer winnings for the down payment of her tiny Hell’s Kitchen apartment. That apartment was not only our home, but her work studio, and sanctuary. I knew it must’ve taken every ounce of pride for her to ask for the money.

She swallowed hard. “The last four months.”

I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. I breathed in a deep sigh and ran my hand down my face. “Gigi, why didn’t you tell me?”

“It’s my apartment and my responsibility.”

“Your name might be on the deed, but I live there too. It’s our responsibility.”

She sat down beside me on the bed. “You’ve been working so hard on Frostbite. I didn’t want to add any more stress to your plate, especially not now that you’re so close to being finished.”

She looked so positive, so optimistic, the very last thing I wanted was to burst her bubble, but it was time to stop pretending. I swallowed hard and let the truth pour out. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up, but I had an interview for the Artist-in-Residence Program at Ars Nova. They turned me down.”

Her face softened into a smile. “Money is futile and fleeting. Always has been, and always will be. But writing a musical is your dream, and you can’t give up on that.”

I caressed the side of her face and held her chin in my hand. “I can, especially now that I’ve found an even better one. I love you, Georgica. I want us to start to build a life together.”

She leaned into my chest. “I want that too.”

Gigi smoothed my hair and kissed my forehead. “I’ll support you whatever you decide. But please don’t give up. Not just yet. Your musical’s out there, just waiting to be written.”

“When you speak like that, I can almost believe it.”

“Believe it. More importantly, believe in you,” she said, tapping the tip of my nose. “I do.”

I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her into my chest. “How’d I get so lucky?”

She turned to me, her face serious and intense. “Luck had nothing to do with it. Meeting you at Camp Chinooka, that was fate. Letting you in when I was at my lowest, that was a choice. But falling in love with you, well that, that was simply beyond my control.”

Friday, July 2, 2021

Writing rules I don't care about as much as I used to

1. "Show, don't tell"

Just about every writer on earth will have heard this one. It's a great bit of pocket wisdom to pass down to a beginner, but the more I write—and read—the more I realise this advice is to be wielded like a tool. You need to pick the right moments to use it and, more importantly, the right moments not to use it.

Does your reader really need to know about the warm, mushy, bitty texture of the sweet and milky substance in your protagonist's mouth? Or can you get by just letting them know she had oatmeal for breakfast?

My advice to intermediate writers would be to aim for a balance between showing and telling, depending on the pace and tone of your story.

2. "Write every day"

I'm not fond of the implications that tend to come with this advice. That you must force yourself to write, that you'll never "make it" if you don't, that all the great writers did because they had to. These suggestions are often sold with such confidence, it's hard for a new, impressionable writer to question them without feeling silly.

Sure, the more you write, the more opportunities you potentially give yourself to practice your craft. But if you're exhausted or overloaded, how likely is it that you'll use these opportunities well? Wouldn't it be better to take a break and come back stronger the following day? What good are you to anyone if you let yourself get burnt out?

Think of creativity like breathing. There's certainly no shame in inhaling when you need to.

3. "Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation"

When I first started writing, I was a stickler for this. But as I read more and learned more about how culture shapes language (and vice versa), I stopped worrying so much. First of all, there's no one "proper grammar, spelling and punctuation". Heck, I can name at least 5 same-same-but-different guides on how to write good English.

In fiction, I personally feel the world of your story should determine the grammar, spelling and punctuation you use. In which case, you might not italicise "foreign" words because they might not be foreign to your characters. You might not use American standard English because your characters are Australian. Or you might use more traditional turns of phrase rather than modern ones.

"Proper" is primarily defined by the culture that shapes the language of your story. Presenting it in such a way that your target audience can appreciate, I believe, offers the reader a more immersive and empathy-stoking experience of a different world.

Latest on my blog

Out Now: 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.

The Guy From The Internet is a sweet #OwnVoices Asian-Australian romance novella, set in the world of Somerville Downs.

Now available on Amazon in digital and paperback.

Would you like to sample my work?

The Guy From the Library is a sudden puppy short story, free for my newsletter subscribers, available now on StoryOrigin.