I’m writing a new fiction piece …. have a sneaky look at what’s inside :)

When I was revising my first novel-length piece (I’m going to call it DADW… that’s the title’s acronym … although the title is no great mystery to my poor friends and family who have to listen to me inappropriately drop those four precious words into every conversation I can) my mentor, Alli, told me that I needed to get a little further under the skin of the characters. I knew what she meant. I also knew that if I wanted to do that, I’d have to dig a bit deeper within myself. So, I went out the rumpus room, dragged out my suitcase of emotional baggage and unpacked an array memories that hadn’t seen the light of day for years. Because all of these feelings had been kept in the dark for so long, they were actually very well preserved. They were fresh. And rehashing them hurt. In a way, the pain was great because it’s what got the heart of DADW really going. But far out, it was exhausting. I was scraping the bottom of my barrel of sweat and tears and for a while there I thought, “yep, this is my one and only and I’ll never care about anything else in the same way and this is all I have in me.”

Felt the same way about my first boyfriend.

We are no longer together.

Writing (and reading) really is a muscle. And not just in the respect that you have to keep on flexing it. It’s also a muscle in the respect that, if you overdo it, you go and give your fingers and your heart some rest, and it’s not long before you crave another workout.

So, I’m back on the horse, and I’m about 6,000 words deep into TLWTRR (try to guess that title, I dare ya).

What’s in this second piece? Well, I haven’t decided on too much. Most adult novels are roughly between 80,000-110,000 words (DADW was a big fatty at around 110,000 words), so I’ve got a fair way to go. What I do have, though, is a list of character names and qualities. I know what their goals are and what is standing in the way of them achieving these goals. What I also have is a small list of definite places/things that will make an appearance. They could end up playing a tiny role, or they could end up being a major element. Whatever their part, they’ll definitely be in there.

These very special elements are …

  1. Make-up.
  2. A vintage car (Australian make and model, of course).
  3. Regional and rural Australia.
  4. Federal government and resulting law.

TLWTRR will also be set in present day Australia, and, so far, it’s written in first person. So, it’s from the point of view of the main character. Like DADW, TLWTRR has romantic elements and a family-driven storyline. Both of these pieces deal with social issues, but in TLWTRR, I wanted to take social issues a bit further and look at modern government (specifically a conservative modern government) and how passed/blocked legislation affects the quality of life of Australians.

TLWTRR is coming along a little slowly at the moment. One reason for my slow progress is because I must finish off ye olde PhD thesis, but I think the other reason is that I’m a bit hesitant to, once again, really invest myself in people who aren’t alive and will never be alive. When I was writing DADW, the characters were with me 24/7 and the more I fleshed them out, well, the closer they were to really feeling like living, breathing entities. It was a weird feeling and one I wasn’t initially comfortable with. I mean, I wasn’t slipping into any overly-concerning delusional state, but I was very attached. There was quite a comedown after finishing DADW, but those emotions were eventually replaced by the real nice, warm sensation I felt from knowing that I was letting the characters go so that others could (one day) meet them.

So, what about the budding characters of TLWTRR? I think it’s their time to shine. I really want to get to know them… and I’ve definitely got a bit more left in the suitcase 😉

I’m really looking forward to sharing bits and pieces about how this new story all comes together.

And just one more thing!

I know what the elements of my new story might suggest but don’t worry, I am not doing a bogan Priscilla Queen of the Desert with a Pintara instead of a bus …



A Quickie with A.K. Macbride

I first picked up a romance novel when I was about five or six. I found it in Nan and Pa’s shed. It smelt like sawdust and mothballs and on the cover there was a woman who I thought must have had a bad leg. She was leaning back and the only thing keeping her propped up were the toned arms of a big manly man. Instantly, I thought “woweee so this is romance!”

I’ve since learnt that writing any story with a solid romantic element requires a more sophisticated plot than someone “being saved.” When we read a modern romance, we want to read about individuals being swept off their feet, but we also want characters who are capable of standing on their own two feet. We want all of the essential elements that make a memorable love story, but we don’t want it to be formulaic. And we want a balance between emotional and physical expression. Writing a good romance is no easy task, but there is help out there! Whether your stories contain a little or a lot of romance, Romance Writers of Australia is a fantastic group to be a part of. I’m a member and the advice and support I’ve received from others has improved my writing out of sight.

sauce-01Anyway, today’s post isn’t all about me. I have a quick interview (what I like to call “A Quickie”) with the author A.K. Macbride (who I was introduced to through Romance Writers of Australia). A.K. is about to release her new novel, “An Inconvenient Marriage,” which can be pre-ordered for its May 21 release via the links at the bottom of this blog post (I’ve pre-ordered my copy!). I asked A.K. five questions—(well, there are questions within questions… I think that’s the scientist in me)—and she gave me some fantastic answers! One of the first questions I asked A.K. was whether she’d class her novel as sweet, saucy or extra spicy. She nominated saucy, so it gets the good old Saucy Love Sauce classification from me! (See cartoon.) I wish A.K. all the best with her upcoming release and look forward to following her writing journey into the future.

1. Would you describe An Inconvenient Marriage as sweet, saucy, or extra spicy? Please feel free to elaborate on why your novel fits where it does on the hotness scale ☺

It’s definitely saucy. 😉 I like to call it heart with heat, because if you remove all the sexiness there will still be a story that’s sure to tug your heartstrings. On a hotness scale of 1 – 5, I would rate it a 3.5.

2. What kick-started your story? Were you inspired by any classic romances, or fuelled by personal experiences?

I was actually inspired by a T.V programme where people meet for the first time on their wedding day. Soon after that the characters started ‘talking to me.’ I spent months outlining their story, taking notes at odd hours of the night and making voicenotes while I’m on the exercise bike.

3. Great romantic tales (as I’m sure An Inconvenient Marriage is) are often dynamic—there are all of these other elements supporting and enhancing the love story. In addition to L.O.V.E love, what else can a reader expect from An Inconvenient Marriage? (e.g. humour, a breathtaking setting …)

Great question! I love adding small touches of humour when you least expect it. You can be sure you’ll find some drama and a few OMG-moments. The first half of AIM takes is set in Spain, on a beautiful vineyard

3. What have your characters taught you about yourself? And what do you think readers can learn from them?

In this day and age people expect woman to always be strong and not afraid to go after what they want. Natalie has taught me – and hopefully readers too – that being vulnerable doesn’t mean you are weak. And from Zach I learned that loving someone can heal wounds you thought would never heal.

4. What’s been the most unexpected positive to come from your publishing journey? Any tips for aspiring writers concerning the nail-biting (and sometimes heart-breaking) process that is publishing?

For me, that first five star review was the one that said ‘Hey, maybe these stories you conjure up in your imagination isn’t so bad after all.’ For other aspiring authors I say: ‘Never give up, great things take time.’ On the front cover of my notebook these words are written, big and bold. I see them every time I jot down a note for a book and it keeps me going.

5. What do you think we, as readers, never grow tired of a good love story? What does romance offer that other genres do not?

There is no better feeling than finishing a good romance novel that leaves you swooning and sighing with content. Romance can be thrilling, full of angst and drama and oh-so-hot at the same time. As you can tell, I love romance <3.

A big thank you to A.K. Macbride for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can follow her on social media here ….

And here …

And you can pre-order An Inconvenient Marriage right here …

And here …

I reached a social media milestone … HOORAH

Thank you very much to everyone who has helped me get over the 500 LIKES HUMP!! I know it’s just a tiny drop in the social media ocean, but for someone who started off with zilcho Facebook friends, it’s a big deal. I can’t say I’m having as much luck on Insta (I don’t think I’ve got the boobs or baking skills needed) but I hope to slowly seduce those users with intellect, humour and the odd dog pick. Also a big thank you to my PR team (my best friends) for going at this promo thing hammer and tongs. And thank you to my muse, Pippa (pictured). She might not be the brightest spark, but she is the light of my life. I also realise that all of my posts so far have been about yours truly, but I’m pleased to say that I’m about to get social on social media and post a quick interview with an author who has just self published her own book! Good times ahead.


Finish your salps, please …

Today, I’m going to write a bit more about how increasing numbers of salps in the Southern Ocean might alter the diets of fish, squid, whales, seals and penguins (these are organisms usually feasting on krill). Now, whenever I think about reporting on the dietary preferences of an animal, I don’t picture David Attenborough. Instead, I picture this classic commentary …

If anyone hasn’t seen This Is Spinal Tap, life is short and PLEASE GET ONTO IT.

There’s no bread on the menu today, but two foods that are somewhat comparable to chicken (krill) and jelly (salps). If you had to choose between those two options for dinner, what would you pick? Actually, maybe humans should stay out of this. We (I) are (am) highly emotive when it comes to food choices, and some days I know we (I) would love nothing more than to crawl up into a ball, watch This Is Spinal Tap and eat jelly.

But what about a whale (or fish, squid, seabird, seal or penguin)? What would a whale choose? Now, before I go making any assumptions, I acknowledge that whales can have tough days and sometimes they might feel like a simple, soothing plate of jelly. I’m not one to judge, but, for now, I’ll say that the whale is going to make a dinner decision based on the energy they’ll have to spend finding, eating and digesting their food, and the nutritional payoff. At the end of the day, a whale wants a dinner option that is …

  1. Readily accessible, and accessible in very large amounts. (Actually, whales are definitely kind of like us, in the respect that they want something quick and easy.)
  2. Nutritious.
  3. Easy to digest.

The reason whales don’t want to spend too much energy on finding and eating food is because they would rather invest their energy into growing, looking after their young, dodging whaling vessels, and other important whale tasks.

So what can satisfy every whale’s dinner desires? ANTARCTIC KRILL, of course. Antarctic krill are high in protein and calories (no diets down here in the Southern Ocean), they are easily broken down in the stomach and gut, and their swarming nature means that a whale can go ahead and binge eat.

But …

Last time I talked about salps, I mentioned the possibility of the species moving further down south, and mixing in with krill swarms. Now is also a great time to mention that studies have found salps to contain less than half the calories and protein of krill (keep that in mind as you continue reading).

So, what if salps DO mix in with krill swarms? A whale might come and take a big bite from what it thinks is a pure krill swarm, and find itself with a mouthful of krill AND its cheap imitation (salps). Will a whale spit the salps back out? Unlikely. They are just going to have to suck it up. Or suck them up I should say.

A whale might also be faced with a different scenario, in which they are surrounded by salp blooms with NOT A KRILL IN SIGHT. What are they gonna do then, huh? Will they travel further in search of krill, or will they think, stuff it, and eat the salps? There are risks associated with either choice. If the whale stays and eats salps, it has a guaranteed, albeit less nutritious, meal. If the whale goes, it has a better chance at landing a decent feed, but, then again, it could be left empty-flippered.

I was wrong in saying there aren’t any diets down in the Southern Ocean. The Salp Diet could be the next weight-loss regime to sweep Antarctica. And that’s not good. Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are extreme environments and obviously very, very cold. Whales need to maintain their lipid stores by eating lots of hearty krill. Based on calorie and protein content, salps just don’t cut it and it’s possible that prolonged feeding on this gelatinous organism could compromise the condition of species that typically feed on krill.

I’m going to leave it there for now, as next time I’ll be talking about what methods I’m using to investigate the above questions. I’m also going to be diving into a concept called ecosystem energy flow, and I’ll be using this concept to discuss how changes in small organisms like krill and salps can change AN ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM.

If only whales could talk, hey? Although, if whales could talk, I reckon they’d have some heavy questions to ask us about human behaviours …