I spent today gardening. I was *meant* to be writing. This keeps happening now that I have a garden that is bigger than a dining table, and I can’t help but notice how many writers are also avid gardeners.

I wonder if it is because gardening and writing are very much alike in many ways. Such as when planting a seed, you imagine the potential of a new crop of tomatoes in the future, and when you write that first paragraph (or plan) for a new idea, you have visions of how great it will be to have the completed manuscript.

Ideas also don’t tend to grow the way you expect, but pruning them to fit your original plan might end up killing them. Not to mention the weeding of a good edit to leave just the right bits of story behind, no longer hidden behind the clover and dandelions of excess adjectives and back-story.

Most similar, though, is the feeling that something else is with you along the way; a special energy, being or life-force outside of your efforts that helps it all to grow. They are both truly magical pastimes.

Gardening does leave the muscles a bit sorer than writing! 🙂


Given I only started sending stuff out in the second half of this year I am pleased to let you know that recently I have had two stories published;

Addiction – Antipodean SF which reflects my view about what direction Facebook is heading toward, and may explain to my Facebook FriendsTM why I never log onto my account any more.

Antipodean SF is a fantastic online magazine that has been supporting the Australian writing scene for years, so I’m glad that one of my publications this year is in this wonderful magazine. My first ever publication was in Antipodean SF and the editor worked with me to get my piece up to scratch –I’ll never forget that!

Jaxon’s Gift – Trembles Magazine. This is the story that got me an honourable mention in last year’s Australian Horror Writers Flash Fiction competition. This story was inspired by a friend’s child who spent most of my visit at his house wriggling his tooth before finally pulling it out to show me just before lunch was served. So gross on so many levels. Parents must get endless inspiration for horror stories… 

Hopefully these won’t be the only publications this year, but I wanted to share them while they were still fresh!

Writing books

I was thinking of giving a book about writing to a friend who often tells me she would like to write. The only book on the topic of writing that I can really remember enjoying was Stephen King’s On Writing. So I read it again just to make sure it was as good as my memory had built it up to be, and it was, but it was not really the right book for a writer who is only starting out.

I know there are a lot of books out there on grammar and correct prose, such as Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, but I’m trying to find something that will take her to that next step in an entertaining way. A book that will warn her about the issues of point of view slips, too many ing words, fear of said etc. But one which will do so without sounding condescending or boring.  

And while we are talking about great writing books, there is another one I would like to give a plug to, and that’s Give ‘Em What They Want by Camenson & Cook –but that is around the business of selling books, so again it is probably a bit premature for that yet.

So please give me some suggestions about writing books that you have found both interesting and useful. I should also take this chance to say a big thank you to those in my two writing groups; because of you I’ve managed to learn a lot of these tricks directly from some very talented and imaginative people.

Intelligent Goal Setting

I learned a valuable lesson in goal setting last month; it is best to set achievable goals. After reading the highly motivational ‘Maximum Willpower’ I set myself the challenge of writing a 30,000 word kids book in 21 days.

The first week I went great guns, I managed to write every day, only missing my daily word target (slightly) twice, but hitting my weekly target due to extra writing on other days to give me 10,000 words. I’ve only ever managed to do that on writing retreats before!

The next week a few unforeseen things came up and I got a pretty bad cold that put me in bed for two days. I still managed to write on five days and came in at the end of the week on just shy of 7,000 words.

On the third week I felt the weight of the outstanding 13,000 words pressing down on me (I could actually tell you exactly how many I had outstanding because I had the spreadsheet set up to track every word). That week I missed four days of writing, and only two of those had anything even approaching a valid excuse. I ended the week on a little over 3,000 words.

I had missed my target by 10,000 words! I felt like I had let myself down and felt totally disheartened by the whole experience. It was only on the following Monday night when I was able to realise the true success of the experiment. 8pm rolled around (my usual writing time for the three weeks) and I felt a strong urge to turn everything off and start writing. So that’s exactly what I did.

So my “failed” experiment not only netted me 20,000 words, which was more than I had written in the previous six months, but it also got me into the habit of writing on a school night! One of my better failures if I do say so myself.

Maybe for me the key to goal setting should not be so much about the word goals, but time goals? Write for one or two hours every day, or every second day and just see where I end up. So that’s what I’m going to trial now.

Just as an aside, the 30,000 word kids novel is only about a quarter of the way through the story at the 20,000 word mark, so maybe I should also give up on predicting story lengths as well?

Happy writing.

Happy Father’s Day

Father’s day, like most of our family celebrations, has been somewhat hijacked by crass commercialism. This has led to a rule in my family that all mother’s and father’s day gifts need to be handmade.

This has meant I’ve really had to get in touch with my creative side over the years, especially when I was living in a different state from my father. The upside is that I probably put more thought and time into creating an inexpensive gift than if I had gone out and bought something fancy.

The other side is that my parents really appreciate the gifts that much more, knowing that I have put the effort into making them. Which I guess is what mother’s and father’s day is all about; taking the time to really appreciate your parents.

So what’s dad getting this year? Home-made marinara pizza (no skimping on the prawns), and a unique Natalie-style humorous handmade card. At least I hope it is humorous 🙂

To all the dads out there I want to wish you a very happy father’s day!