Barrett Women Series: Cover Reveal

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I’m very excited to share with you the cover art for my two new novels: Sins of the Father, and The Mother’s Fault.

These novels follow two generations of Barrett Women: Janine and Chloe. They can be read in any order, or individually.

A reader discretion warning is in place both novels, they each deal with dark themes. Unlike my previous releases, these are not romance novels, and deal largely with dysfunctional romantic and familial relationships.

Massive thank you to Charmaine who does my covers, you are a wizard at interpreting what I want and make it into an image.

Every choice can change you for better. Or worse.

Sins of the Father

Janine Barrett is like every other fifteen-year-old—she knows it all. When her father passes away, and she’s stuck with her vindictive mother, and a shameful secret; it’s time to break out on her own.

But surviving life as an adult—juggling schoolwork, a household, and a boyfriend—is a lot harder than she thought. And that’s only the beginning.

What will she sacrifice to have it all and prove her mother wrong?

Follow Janine’s journey as she grows up from a naïve, rebellious teen in 1980s Melbourne.

The Mother’s Fault

Chloe Barrett had a tough childhood, but she’s determined not to let it limit her future. She’s got a good job, a couple of close friends, and a decent boyfriend.  

She pulled herself up out of a dark childhood with an unreliable mother and her unpredictable boyfriends, but has Chloe done enough to overcome her brutal childhood and become a happy, fulfilled adult?  

Follow Chloe as she tries to work out if she’s managed to catch the right kind of man this time and build her perfect life, in spite of her mother’s faults.  

Both titles will be ready for purchase on 28 February 2022, pre-order links to follow.

Welcome to 2022!

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Here we are again, the first day of a new year, 2022. I am hesitant to say I’m feeling optimistic, since the plague is still with us, and travel seems like it’s not really on the cards yet, but perhaps we will be able to do more stuff this year.

I don’t usually make new years’ resolutions, anecdotal evidence suggests that resolutions last about three weeks, if that, so having goals seems to be better in terms of being consistent. I’ve set goals for the coming year for a few years running now, it seems to work better.

My goals for 2022 are similar to my previous annual goals, but let’s call it consistency rather than unoriginality:

  • Publish two manuscripts (titles and covers coming soon)
  • Finish manuscript for Singular Focus 2 (working title)
  • NaPoWriMo 2022 (April)
  • NaNoWriMo 2022 (November)
  • Keep up the blog
  • Painting projects, including a proposal for a mural in my apartment building hallway
  • Wasted Monday performances*
  • Piano open mic performance*

The last two, as with last year, are dependent on things being open for performances, but fingers crossed we should be able to get a couple of performances in somewhere.

I would like to spend a bit less time watching TV, more time reading and doing my various projects. Habits are the best predictors of future behaviour, so if I can get into the habit of doing a bit more than rewatching crime procedurals, that’d be good.

I’ll keep working on my garden, it’s looking pretty good these days. I have some berry bushes that produce pretty well and I’ve planted a couple of tomatoes that I hopefully won’t kill before they fruit too.

There was talk we wouldn’t get a proper summer here because of La Niña but the last couple of days have been hot and sunny, so perhaps those predictions were wrong. Outdoor gatherings of a few people seem to be the way to go these days, perhaps coffee outside at a cafe or two. So I will wish you all a very Happy New Year; may 2022 be kind to you and be full of joy and just enough challenge to keep things interesting, but not enough to make you miserable.

Another year over…

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Each year I do a little wrap up post about the last twelve months and how they’ve gone for me. 2020 was, as I’m sure it was for many of you, a shit show. 2021 started out hopeful, I went back to working in the office sometimes, I saw a couple of Melbourne Comedy Festival shows and a few band nights and gigs around town.

I even managed to get through the year without testing positive for COVID which is nice; I’m not sure I’ll be able to say the same for next year. Our case numbers are in the thousands per day, but with over 90% of the population vaccinated, it seems hopeful that we’ll be able to stay open even with new variants.

I set my expectations pretty low, after 2020 I wanted to feel confident I would tick some of them off, even if there was another long lockdown. Turns out I was right to be sceptical that our freedom would last; from May until October, we were all stuck inside again and we’re only allowed out now because of high vaccination rates.

My goals for 2021 are as follows:

  • Publish Singular Focus
  • Finish manuscript from NaNoWriMo 2020
  • NaPoWriMo 2021 (April)
  • NaNoWriMo 2021 (November)
  • Keep up the blog
  • Paint more murals
  • Put on a third Melbourne Fringe Festival show (October)*
  • Wasted Monday performances*

I achieved all my goals, except for the Fringe Show. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I would have done a show this year even without lockdown. There is a lot of joy in putting on a Fringe show, but an enormous amount of work. I’m focussing my energy on my writing, music, and doing some painting as well. I have three murals in my apartment now and have moved on to smaller boards that can be kept or given away to friends.

I took up piano lessons late in 2020, online only at the time since we were still in lockdown then. After a little over a year, I’m enjoying playing and tinkering on the piano. I might even build a repertoire so I can do some open mic nights with the keyboard – although the keyboard’s pretty massive so transporting it will be a pain. My piano teacher has organised two small concerts in 2021 with her adult students, and I have really enjoyed having an audience again, as well as being able to play two or three gigs with Wasted Monday when we were allowed.

Five people pose, each giving a peace sign with both hands and smiling broadly.
Piano concert crew: Jaya, Andrew, me, Mizuki (teacher) and Ben, November 2021.

My work that can be done at home has been pretty consistent, I have drafted about 80k of a new novel, and I have two novels that will be ready for publication in 2021 (stay turned for title and cover reveals).

Though I did a 30k goal for NaNoWriMo, I’m counting it. It’s been a tough year and my writing practice is pretty solid, so I don’t need to rely on November to make up the lion’s share of my first draft output.

My ankle, which was smashed when I was struck by a car in January 2020, is largely recovered, though there is some long-term damage and it’s never going to be back to the way it was. The biggest issue I have nowadays is chronic back pain, likely a secondary injury from the ankle problem. I find it hard to work when I’m in pain, a sentiment I’m sure many of you share.

I’m pleased to say my relationships–with friends, family and work colleagues–have remained solid for the duration, I am so grateful to have so many fantastic people around me. Even when we couldn’t see anyone in real life, I knew you were all there, at the end of the phone or over text.

My grandmother passed in September, she was 94, so had a good run. The funeral was weird, because we were in lockdown and had only two people in the chapel, and a few more watching online. Most other things have ticked along, in some cases limped along during lockdown, but have largely survived. I feel hopeful that 2022 will be enjoyable, possibly going out of the house more often, perhaps I’ll even be able to have a holiday outside of Victoria.

I wish you all health, happiness, relaxation and fulfilment, for the next year and beyond. The next post will include my new year goals.

Whamageddon and other adventures

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Some of you will be familiar with the game ‘Whamageddon‘. The challenge is to get through from 1 December until midnight 24 December without hearing Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. There is no prize, I honestly think it’s impossible to do but it’s kind of fun to tell people when you hear it and you’re out.

I went out on 6 December when an artist played ‘Last Christmas’ at a life drawing session where I was modelling. Since our lockdown has been lifted I’ve had a couple of modelling jobs, it’s lovely to get back out there and see the works generated in collaboration with the artists. Melbourne’s case numbers are still sitting up around the thousand per day mark, but we’re almost entirely back to pre-COVID numbers at restaurants and bars and other venues.

I have been running around the last few weeks attending various end of year gatherings and Christmas parties, all the social groups I’ve been missing during the long winter months are desperate to catch up before Christmas, which is lovely, but after so long in my apartment not seeing anyone it’s taken some adjusting.

I have two weeks off over the weird Christmas/New Year’s period, in which I hope to do some day trips and potter around meeting people for coffee or a meal out. Time feels like it’s been moving in a very odd way – both slowly and way too fast. How is it less than a week until Christmas?

I have two books I’m planning to release together early-ish in the new year, they don’t have covers yet and I haven’t completely settled on the titles yet so I can’t tell you anything about them. I’m going through final edits on them at the moment.

I hope you are all able to take some time to spend with loved ones (either virtually or in person) this festive season, and if you can, take a break from the world. Go slowly, read books in bed with a cup of tea, or binge that thing on that streaming service you’ve been meaning to get to. I’ll be back to post my end of year wrap up and my new year goals in the next few weeks.

Kicking Goals for the Start of Summer

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This year I decided to do a reduced word count goal for NaNoWriMo 2021 – I aimed for a measly 30,000 and I managed to get over 3000 more than my goal, which I was pleased with.

My writing habit has certainly improved over the ten years of NaNoWriMo participation. I feel like my drafting and editing have both developed. The most important aspect to this is the ability to do one task at a time – when drafting our critical brains need to be turned off, so the creative and possibly wild parts of the story can pour out.

The editing process is about being critical, so we want to turn off the creative brain and focus on the plot holes or weird sentences we came up with during the drafting phase.

My manuscript for Singular Focus 2 (working title) is now at over 80,000 in the first draft. I aim to have the story finished in the next month, but we’ll see how we go with all of the end of year/Christmas gatherings that seem to be happening now we’re finally allowed out of lockdown.

I have two manuscripts back from my editor that will need revisions before being published in the first half of next year. I wasn’t game to look at the scope of suggestions the editor made while doing NaNo so I’m not sure exactly when the books will be released. I also haven’t settled on titles for either of them, which is a bit of a problem!

Summer here in Melbourne has kicked off with a bang, we had thunderstorms this afternoon. Who knows what the weather will do, or what the new COVID-19 variants will be, but I’m hopeful I’ll be out seeing friends, catching gigs, and generally making merry. I look forward to some new release announcements soon, in the meantime, take care of yourselves.

‘Consider the Watchmaker’ New Collection now available

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My new poetry chapbook Consider the Watchmaker is now available in ebook format from Amazon and other good retailers.

It’s a collection of eleven poems, some of which have appeared here on the blog, others which have not been published. I would encourage you all to head over to your preferred ebook supplier and purchase a copy.

I am selling printed zine versions, but these will be only available from me directly, feel free to email me for a copy at 99c (Australian) plus postage.

If you enjoy my poems, I have another poetry chapbook, My Body. No Apology. also available in ebook format from all the usual places.

NaNoWriMo 2021

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Regular readers of the blog will know that I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) every year since 2012. This year will be my tenth year participating. The stats on the NaNoWriMo website say I’ve written 466,945 words as part of my NaNo projects, which seems amazing and doesn’t include the words I’ve written outside of the November challenge months.

When I first started doing NaNo I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no writing practice, had a lot to learn about plotting and drafting and editing. Since then, I’ve done a lot of learning, both through courses, and reading, and my own writing practice. I will continue to learn throughout my writing career, one never stops gathering knowledge and if you do then surely the spark has gone.

The idea of doing 50k words in November seems overwhelming. In past years, NaNo has taken between one and two hours every day to win, and I don’t know if I can commit to that. After being in lockdown for so long I crave being out and taking on a challenge which will necessitate being inside seems like going backwards. Not to mention I’ve taken up a few other hobbies like piano and other things that I want to be able to make time for. So this year I am setting a goal of 30k words. A thousand a day. If I’m on a roll, I might get through in 45-60mins. It will still be a challenge for my time management, and I will probably have to make some sacrifices, but it also means if I skip a day I can make it up the next day without struggling too much. My brain can’t produce much more than 2000 words a day at the best of times, so my margin for bad or busy days in previous years has been pretty slim. Part of me feels as though this doesn’t count as doing a NaNoWriMo project, but I am going to count it none the less.

I’ve been working on a sequel to a previous book that I’ve published, but I won’t give away anything yet. I received two manuscripts back from my editor this last week and I will be looking to publish them together in 2022. I can’t tell you their names yet, since I’m still struggling with titles for both of them. I don’t want to do covers until they have names either.

I hope you’re all doing well, if you’re in Melbourne maybe you’re venturing out slowly (or quickly) into the world out of lockdown. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress, and as soon as I have titles for my two new manuscripts, I’ll announce them too.

What’s in a name?

Fleur de lys
Fleur Delacour
Floriade
Florida

French. Noun. Popular in the Netherlands
misheard as Laura or Claire
my name evokes many moods
saccharine, feminine, delicate

Brings to mind
old wallpaper, couches
vintage polyester dresses
plastic plant arrangements

I like my name, especially the double
with Eloise between them for contrast.
Despite disdain towards my father
I keep his name; it suits me

Grown from the dirt to bloom in the world
there is something in a flower’s nature
that resonates. I create beauty
attract others to my presence despite insecurities

I like being the centre of attention.
Am yet to produce fruit
merely decorative with a hint of danger
with thorns to prick if held wrong

To bloom and eventually fade
my flower changes over time
A legacy of joy, or perhaps
contentment will be my gift.

The end is near*

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*or nearer than before.

Next Monday will be my birthday. The second to be celebrated in significant restrictions as a result of COVID-19. Back at the start of all of this, in March of 2020, people said it would take two years to get through and out the otherside. We’re already well into a year and a half and I’m not confident we’ll be out the other side into COVID-normal in another six months.

On top of the usual pandemic nonsense, Melbourne has been hectic the last few days. Yesterday we have people protesting in the city, where everybody involved seemed violent, shouty and not wearing masks, and this morning we had a 6-magnitude earthquake which was unsettling to say the least.

Chocolate bundt cake with coloured smarties and candles on top.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

On Monday I’ll be having the day off work (which I do from home) and am heading out to a local park for a coffee and cake date with my mum, who I haven’t seen for several months. At least we’re allowed to sit down to have a chat now without breaking the law.

The good news is I’ve managed to have two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, with minimal side-effects. Sadly my 5G is not improved, and I am not magnetic, however I’m confident my resistance to the plague has increased.

My birthday will consist of making myself a cake (possibly cupcakes), and ordering take-away to eat while having a catch up online with friends. What a world we live in! I’ve been drafting a new novel and I found myself writing all of their scenes at home. I’ll have to send them out to see a band or something, since the book is set in a non-COVID world.

A friend suggested lockdown birthdays don’t count, and I have therefore not aged. I love the idea, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve aged ten years since January 2020. So much (and yet also so little) has happened. Part of me thinks this will be a defining era in my lifetime, on the other hand, everything changes all the time, and maybe we’ll forget the whole thing and get back to living our lives.

Until then, it’s Happy Birthday to me from inside my house. I hope you’re all safe and maybe I’ll see you in the real world one day soon.

Anniversary Gift – New Release

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Time in the last year or two has become meaningless in a lot of ways. 2020 started with being hit by a car (I refuse to call it an accident), and then we all went into the long lockdown. Things were looking up in early 2021 but we’re back in long lockdown again, perhaps we’ll be able to get out by November? It’s hard to know and I’m not holding my breath.

It dawned on me yesterday (possibly the day before, again, time is weird) that November will mark ten years since I started this blog. I know, what the actual hell, right? I have my thinking cap on for ways to celebrate the anniversary. If it were a wedding anniversary it would be tin (sounds very Kiwi if you ask me), perhaps I’ll work that in somewhere.

The project I can announce that will be ready for November is the release of my new poetry chapbook: Consider the Watchmaker. It is a collection of poems, some of which have been featured here on my blog, and others that are unpublished.

Consider the Watchmaker is available for pre-order on Amazon and various other platforms. At the moment it is only available in ebook format, however I will probably put together print copies, zine style, one day when I’m allowed back into a print shop.

I think of this collection as my anniversary gift to myself, and to you, my loyal fans. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so glad you’ve been there to experience it with me. May we continue to evolve and adventure for many more years (hopefully with less car collisions and pandemics, thanks all the same).