Here comes 2018

2018 Reading ChallengeHi Everyone!

Most people who know me will be well aware that I haven’t actually done any major updating for a little while. There’s reasons behind this, or excuses, depending on who you are, and how you perceive things; however, my theme for 2018 is Accelerate, which means that I’m pushing the gas pedal down on a number of different projects in my life – especially including my writing.

So 2018 will be bringing more updates, more writing, and more communication.

To start the year, though, I first need to set a fresh reading challenge. As any good writer will tell you, writers are readers, so here’s my list of books that I’m planning on working my way through in 2018. Thanks to Hannah Braime for this list.

So I’ve done some research, and come up with these as my list.

Last time I did this, I explained why I was picking each one. This time, I’m just going to list them out, but the intention is from here to actually write a commentary/review on each one when I finish it, so keep an eye on my Reading Challenge 2018 tag!

  • A book you read in school: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
  • A book from your childhood: Biggles of the Camel Squadron (W.E. Johns)
  • A book published more than 100 years ago: The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)
  • A book published in the last year: Sing Unburied Sing (Jesmyn Ward)
  • A non-fiction book: On Writing (Stephen King)
  • A book by a male author: A Shadow on the Glass (Ian Irvine)
  • A book by a female author: Manhattan Beach (Jennifer Egan)
  • A book by someone who isn’t a writer: Rebrand Worship (Wayne Huirua)
  • A book that became a film: The Martian (Andy Weir)
  • A book published in the 20th Century: The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
  • A book set in your hometown/region: The Hunter (Julia Leigh)
  • A book with someone’s name in the title: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
  • A book with a number in the title: Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  • A book with a character with your first name: Lonesome Dove (Larry McMurtry)
  • A book someone else recommended to you: Enders Game (Orson Scott Card)
  • A book with over 500 pages: Magician (Raymond E. Feist)
  • A book you can finish in a day: Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
  • A previously banned book: Another Country (James Baldwin)
  • A book with a one-word title: Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
  • A book translated from another language: War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
  • A book that will improve a specific area of your life: Live Love Lead (Brian Houston)
  • A memoir or journal: My Story (Michael Clarke)
  • A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year: The World Duology (Lance and James Morcan)
  • An award-winning book: When the Jaguar Sleeps (J.A. Kalis)
  • A self-published book: Heaven Earth or Hell (Maeve Nolan)

Some of these I have read before, and am taking the opportunity to read again. Others are ones that I’ve discovered whilst searching for something that fits the category. In the case of When the Jaguar Sleeps, I just happened to see it in the list of items people also bought on Amazon when looking at The World Duology, and kind of felt drawn to it straight away, so I found a spot for it (it apparently won an award in the International Book Award Contest in the Fiction-Adventure category).

So off we go. I’m getting started tonight with Biggles of the Camel Squadron, one of many novels by W.E. Johns about the famous (fictional) British air ace. My late father loved these novels as a boy himself, and passed on his enjoyment of them to me when I was a child as well.

Update – 11 October 2015

“It has been a good life.”

According to my new favourite Facebook feature, which allows me to go in and see what I posted on this date in the past, I wrote those words four years ago from a character who was settling themselves in to die.

This has me thinking about two things.

Firstly, it’s been four years since I wrote those words, and the novel is still not finished. To be fair to myself, I lost a massive amount of my motivation over this particular time period thanks to work, and just the way my life went. It’s only really been since leaving that particular job that I’ve found some of my heart for writing again, and been able to really get my passion and flow back for it.

It also makes me think, though, about letting go of characters. The things I was saying last week, about how characters really do tend to have a life of their own, also comes to play with their deaths as well.

This character, lying in their bed, aged and content, was almost easy to walk away from. Like in real life, it’s a lot easier to say goodbye to someone who has lived a long and happy life, than it is to say goodbye to someone taken well before his or her time.

This death contrasted with the first one I ever had to write. That one came upon me suddenly, honestly taking me by surprise. I still remember writing it, my fingers streaming across the keyboard, almost independently of the rest of my brain functions. I cried. I totally wept.

I think it’s one of the hardest things that we have to do, is kill off a character. Especially when it’s a major one. I don’t know how George R.R. Martin does it. I don’t think I could have written Game of Thrones. It would be torturous trying to write that stuff.

Speaking of, I’m finally getting into the book series of that. I’ve discovered that I prefer watching the TV show or movie before reading the book, if I can at all, because then I find that reading the book expands on what happened in the movie, rather than the movie being a disappointing shadow of what could have been.

That’s me for another week. Nothing major to report on the progress front – I managed a bit of work on Seven Peaks and a little on Prophecy Girl as well. Both are coming along pretty well now that I have started scheduling proper novel writing times.


Update: 4 October 2015

When I woke up on Monday last week, I was looking at my life and thinking how great it was that things were finally starting to come under control.

I’m pretty sure that whenever I think that, the universe turns into Barney Stinson.

Challenge Accepted

Last week started out pretty brilliantly. I got through a heap of work, felt motivated, and was starting to get plans into place to move forward in several different projects. It was great.

Then I nearly died.

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, and at the same time, it’s actually not. You see, because I was so well organized, I decided I could take some time out to help a mate with a renovation he’s working on. Which involved lifting a ridiculously heavy steel beam into the ceiling above his kitchen.

Except that, while we were trying to get it into the house, I slipped – and not just a little slip, either. We’re talking the full-on slip with feet coming out from under me, flying in the air, banana peel style slip like this guy.

Epic Slip Penguin

And while I’m horizontal, I happen to catch site of the beam just floating there, with my friend struggling to hold onto it. For a moment, my mind entertained the thought of I’d better catch that, before survival instinct kicked in and told me to get the hell out of the way. So I did. I hit the ground and commando rolled as far from where everything else was potentially going to collapse as possible. The whole movement was actually pretty epic.

I didn’t die, obviously, but that’s pretty much how the rest of my week turned out. Nothing went quite to plan, and pretty much everything just ended up taking longer than expected, meaning that hours went places I didn’t really want them to go, and sadly, time is one thing that, once you lose it, you can’t get it back.

I did, though, get some progress made on Seven Peaks! In that process, I discovered that Paige is a vegan – much to my chagrin – and once again asked the question that I think most authors probably ask pretty regularly. “Why do I let you people make your own decisions again?”


To be honest, I think God probably asks that question of us humans at times, too.

Characters are interesting. As an author, you come up with this concept of a person, but they basically end up deciding who they are independently of what you might want for them. It can be frustrating at times.

So yes, everything turned out unexpectedly last week, even my main character. Which is also why I’m writing this on Monday morning instead of Sunday when I was meant to – although that’s partly also because of the distraction caused by the NRL Grand Final last night.

Have a great week folks. I’ll do better this time. I just have to start working my way through the list of tasks that Asana is reminding me that I didn’t do yet.

Update: 27 September 2015

So in a great process of procrastination, I’ve actually finally gotten around to updating this website and putting together some strategies for it. That’s one box ticked off the list of things I can do instead of writing a novel.

To counter this, though, I have also made a decision. Every Sunday, my aim is to provide an update on the work I’ve done during the week on any novels that I’ve been working on.

This blog will have more than that, of course, but it’s one part.

This week has actually been a pretty good one. I’ve finished my first independently-sourced project as a freelance writer, which is hugely exciting, and at the same time, kind of scary because now I have to go out and find more work to pay other bills coming in. So just a reminder, if you have anything that needs to be written, particularly in the area of web content, blogs or other online marketing work, head over to Midnight Quills and send through a message.

Novel wise, there’s been a bit of a lull again lately as I’ve worked on getting some more freelance work. Sadly, novels don’t start paying bills until they’re written, and so it’s hard to balance writing what you love with writing what will pay the bills. Still, though, I’ve recently adopted Scrivener, and I must say that so far, I’m loving it.

Generally, I tend to be a Seat-of-the-Pants writer, rather than an Outliner. Which meant that I tended to avoid the idea of using Scrivener or yWriter or other software, because I just thought they would prove to be too restrictive. What I’ve found with Scrivener, though, is that it’s fairly well balanced between the two. I know where each of my stories are going, and have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to get there (most of the time – I’m still traumatised by the unexpected death of a character in… Spoilers!). What Scrivener allows me to do is set out that skeletal structure that I have in mind, which gives me a broad template to work to, and then the rest of my writing can still be pantsed.

Yes. Pantsed is a word. Usually reserved for the pool room, but it works here as well – I think most writers probably do at least some of their work sans-pants at some stage.

Back on track, though, since downloading Scrivener, I’ve loaded both Prophecy Girl, which is the first novel in The Darkness saga, and Seven Peaks, and have done probably equal amounts of work on both in the meantime. There’ll be a bit more of a reference point for these coming up as I create the actual pages to go with each project. One step at a time, friends.

On a totally unrelated note, I just watched The Help tonight. Great movie. I tend to love films like that, which have some depth and real meaning to them. Seen it? What did you think?