Mystery of the Month – Shiver

What begins as a reunion among five former snowboarding champions takes a terrifying turn when it appears one of them might be a murderer.

Ten years ago, Milla and her friends competed in the British Championships alongside the beautiful but nasty Saskia, a woman who took a disturbing delight in hurting the people around her to get what she wanted – to win. But then Saskia disappeared. Everyone presumed she died — a terrible accident on the ice — but no one knows what really happened. Is she dead or is she playing another one of her cruel mind games?

In the present day, the group arrives at the small ski resort in the Alps to play a mysterious Icebreaker game. But something isn’t right. Someone has set the game up to include secrets about Saskia. And no one can work out who actually invited them to the reunion. Not only that, but all their phones have gone missing and the lift access to the mountain has been disabled. There’s no way out and no one to call for help.

The narrative shifts between the present day and the events of ten years earlier with ambitious, level-headed Milla the story’s narrator. She’s hiding a secret she doesn’t want anyone to find out, especially not Curtis, Saskia’s older brother. Even though Saskia has been missing for many years, her presence is strongly felt with her past actions leaving long-lasting fractures between the old friends. Even the scent of her perfume still seems to be wafting along the hallways of the resort.

The dangerous, snow-covered mountains and secluded lodge provides the perfect environment for a tense, faced-paced psychological thriller. Shadowy figures slip around corners, mysterious messages appear on mirrors and bodies slip easily into the snow. There’s a nice tribute to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None when one character disappears and the others pair off, frightened and unsure who to trust.

As a debut, Shiver is just as enjoyable if not more so, than other popular novels of the same genre. Author Allie Reynolds has created characters who feel real (despite all being extremely good-looking), particularly Saskia, that awful person we’ve all met, but for some reason, want to be our best friend. Allie Reynolds uses her in-depth knowledge of snowboarding (being a former pro freestyle snowboarder herself) to great advantage, with several dramatic plot twists paralleling the death-defying maneuvers performed by the competitive characters.

Shiver is a dark, sexy and pacey thriller about winning — not only in competitions but in relationships, too — with a seriously chilling take on how far some people will go in order to finish on top.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds is published in Australia by Hachette.

Standout Simile:

I suck in the thin cold air of the glacier. The Alps spread out below me like spiky white teeth.

Top 3 Overused Actions in Fiction

When you read a lot of books (and you’re writing fiction, too!) you notice when similar actions and phrases are repeated across novels.

This is to be expected. After all, it’s difficult to come up with new ways of saying the same thing all the time. Especially if what you’re describing is a mundane action, like a character frowning, narrowing their eyes, or wiping their forehead.

But characters have to do SOMETHING to break up the pace between dialogue and show us how they’re feeling. Which means they’re usually frowning or scratching their chin. It’s not like they can randomly start juggling.

I’ve previously written a blog post about the amount of times I used clichés to describe emotions. Fluttering hearts, taking a deep breath and sighing all appear an embarrassing number of times in an early draft of my manuscript.

The good news is, thanks to lots of books I’ve read recently, I’ve noticed MORE overused actions. The even better news is they’re in published fiction, so they can’t be too sinful. Maybe only if you use them on every page.

Check if your characters are doing any of my top 3 overused actions in fiction.

Is someone raking a hand through their hair?

A character getting their hand and having a good rake through their hair is happening an awful lot in the psychological thrillers I’ve read lately. This makes sense, right? Characters in psychological thrillers are super nervy because they might be the murderer, or they might be about to get murdered. Raking their hands through their hair demonstrates this anxiety. We get it.

However, more often that not I’ve noticed it’s a man who is raking a hand through his hair. This makes me wonder, do women not also rake their hands through their hair?

Go on, check your manuscripts or the book you’re currently reading. Bet someone is raking their fingers through their hair. Probably a man.

Is someone picking their nails?

This one particularly irks my Mum. She finds it very distracting.

And for some reason, having a character in a book who habitually pick their nails is having a huge rise in popularity. At one point I read three books in a row and they all had a serial nail-picker.

If there’s no one picking their nails or their nail polish, you will definitely find someone examining their nails, or chewing them, drumming them against something, digging them into their palms, etc. At the very least, attention will be drawn to their colour or condition.

But why are they picking them? Stop it. It’s gross.

Is someone furrowing their brow?

Brows furrow so much in books. In fact, fiction is positively rife with furrowed brows and furrowing of the general brow and facial area.

It’s got me wondering, can anything else furrow? It sounds like something a small animal would do, but perhaps I’m confused with burrow.

I checked some of the classics to see if we could blame anyone for the onslaught of furrowed brows in fiction. Would you believe I found a furrowed brow in Jane Eyre? Not to mention, a hollow that’s deeply furrowing a brown moorside! So other things can furrow! I feel at peace.

And if it’s not a furrowed brow, it’s a heavily knitted one.

Now I’ve noticed all the hair being raked, the fingernails being picked, and the brows being furrowed, they cannot be unnoticed. Henceforth, I must remove them from my own manuscript. I’m getting out my Emotion Thesaurus to find better ways of describing these anxious actions.

Confession time! How many hair-raking, fingernail-picking, brow-furrowers do you have in your story? Or is this something you’ve also noticed in the books you’ve been reading? Tell all in the comments below.

Mystery of the Month – Moonflower Murders

Anthony Horowitz is a masterful storyteller and his latest foray into crime fiction is no exception, presenting the reader with not one, but two, murder mysteries to solve.

Moonflower Murders is the sequel to the bestselling Magpie Murders and follows the same format of a ‘mystery within a mystery’. Our protagonist, Susan Ryeland, is living with her partner, Andreas, in Crete where they both manage a hotel. Susan loves Andreas but is missing her old life as a book editor, where she worked on a famed series of mystery novels featuring German detective, Atticus Pund.

When Susan is contacted by a wealthy Suffolk couple, Laurence and Pauline Trehearne, about the disappearance of their daughter, Cecily, she’s instantly intrigued. On the day of Cecily’s wedding, a man was brutally murdered at the Trehearne’s luxury hotel, Branlow Hall. Just before she disappeared, Cecily was convinced the identity of the murderer was hidden inside the book she’d just read — Atticus Pund Takes the Case. With the author of the books, Alan Conway, now dead, the Trehearnes think Susan might be able to help. So Susan returns to England to investigate.

Once the cast of characters at Branlow Hall are firmly established — including Cecily’s doting husband and her prickly sister — Susan finally sits down to read Atticus Pund Takes the Case. And so do we. A mystery about a strangled actress is ‘reproduced’ in its entirety in the middle of Moonflower Murders, complete with title page and reviews. We read the same words Susan does, trying to identify the secret messages Cecily found.

Just as in Magpie Murders, the Atticus Pund ‘story-within-a-story’ features cleverly named characters who have ‘real-life’ counterparts in Susan’s storyline. With clues in the form of anagrams and other wordplay running through both narratives, the reader will be guessing and second-guessing until the very end.

Horowitz’s Susan Ryeland series of books are love letters to crime-fiction greats such as Phillip Marlowe, Wilkie Collins, and Agatha Christie, with Atticus Pund being an obvious homage to Hercule Poirot (and with characters resembling Inspector Japp and Miss Lemon in the story, too). And like these Golden Age novels, both mysteries end in a traditional denouement: a truly satisfying moment for fans of the genre.

Anthony Horowitz infuses his novels with a great sense of humour, drawing attention to the metafictional nature of his works. Susan chides herself when she hears herself asking a potential witness: “Can you tell me what happened on the night of the murder?” telling herself if she’d seen those old-fashioned and cliched words in a novel, she would have edited them out. It’s these little things that make Moonflower Murders a real hoot.

Simple storytelling, flowing prose and a craftily plotted murder mystery (or two), Moonflowers Murders provides a unique and fresh take on some of the crime fiction tropes we’ve come to know and love. You know you’re in for a treat when you’ve got a novel by Anthony Horowitz in your hands.

Moonflowers Murders is published in Australia by Penguin.

Standout Similes (there are two because I couldn’t choose my favourite):

She approached the table like a boxer climbing into the ring and even before she spoke I knew we weren’t going to get along.

Somehow it had lingered in my consciousness, almost like a flaw in an early first draft.

Why I’m Now Writing in the Present Tense

Some people say it’s a fad, some look down on it, but I reckon writing in the present tense has lots of benefits.  

I’ve just completed the Curtis Brown Creative online course, Writing A Psychological Thriller. The course convenor, novelist Erin Kelly, says writing in the present tense can make a thriller breathless and more immediate.  

And so, I’ve decided to rewrite my manuscript, a psychological thriller, in present tense.  

I know, I know. Some time ago now, I talked about how I was thinking of rewriting my manuscript from third person into first person. Now here I am again, talking about yet another rewrite, this time changing it from past tense into present tense.  

It just goes to show how many rewrites it takes before you even get close to completing a manuscript. But it’s important to get it right.  

Here are some of the reasons I’ve decided that writing in the present tense is the right thing to do for my story.  

Immediacy. Present tense makes everything more current. It’s all happening right now, rather than in the past. This gives a heightened sense of excitement and a feeling of ‘what’s going to happen next?’

Dramatic. Screenplays are written in present tense so it can give a novel a dramatic, cinematic feel.

Familiarity with the narrator. The reader is right there with the POV character as everything unfolds, seeing everything as the character sees it. Present tense helps the reader feel like they’re on the same journey as the character.

Short, snappy sentences. I’ve deleted so many uses of the word “had”, which has made my sentences look much cleaner and flow more smoothly. This means less words for the reader to trip over when they’re trying to get to the action of the story.

There are some drawbacks to writing in the present tense. It makes flashback scenes a little confusing and clunky. Shifting into simple past when a flashback starts is easier said than done.  

And while writing in present tense has been a good way to make my sentences shorter and snappier, it does mean I have to include more of the trivial events the characters perform, simply because they would actually happen in the natural course of events. 

Not every reader will like reading a story in present tense, just as some readers prefer third person narration to first person narration. There are a few people who’ll get a bit snooty about their preferences. However, there’s shifts from past tense to present tense in Jane Eyre, not to mention Cat’s Eye, so if it’s good enough for Charlotte Bronte and Margaret Atwood…

As always, it’s up to the writer to decide which tense suits their story. It might also depend on the genre you’re writing in. For example, I think present tense works well for a thriller. The best way to find out which tense works best for you is by writing your story in both past and present tenses. Try them on for size and see which feels the most natural.  

I first started using present tense when I wrote my short story The Sound the Sea Makes, which is published this month in Lighthouse – An Anthology. For a short story with suspenseful elements, the present tense worked well as it propelled the narrative forward and kept the pace moving.  

My story sits alongside several other short stories, some written in past tense and some in present tense.  

Lighthouse – An Anthology is a unique multi-genre collection of short stories that celebrate lighthouses. From sci-fi and fantasy to romance and crime – and everything in between – Lighthouse features exciting voices from emerging and established Australian writers. 

You can secure your copy right now by visiting the Lorikeet Ink site.

Mystery of the Month – The Girl in the Mirror

Rose Carlyle’s unsettling debut is a bit like what might happen if the Sweet Valley Twins weren’t as innocent as that dimple on the left cheek made them out to be. The Girl in the Mirror introduces the wealthy Carmichael twins, blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauties. Narrator, Iris, has always been envious of her sister, Summer, who is more popular, more beautiful, and seemingly more loved. Iris wants what Summer has, and when she’s presented with the opportunity to take it, what will she do?

The story begins when the twins set sail from Thailand to the Seychelles on Bathsheba, their family yacht. It’s all smooth sailing until the unthinkable happens and Iris is forced to make a life-changing decision. Complicating things is the twins’ father’s will; when he died he made a rule that the first of his children to marry and have a baby would inherit his $100 million dollar estate. While Summer is married to the perfect man, Iris has recently split from her husband. But in the race for the inheritance, there’s also step-siblings to contend with as well as the twins’ younger brother.

While Iris isn’t always a likeable narrator – she’s out for herself, scheming to marry someone she doesn’t love so she can get pregnant and inherit the estate – there’s something appealing about her cynical view of the world and a relatability in her insecurity, which keeps the reader on her side as she digs herself a bigger and bigger hole.

New Zealand author Rose Carlyle has sailed on scientific yachting expedition and this expertise shows in her writing – the Indian Ocean is the perfect isolated setting for something underhanded to occur. As a debut author, she ticks all the boxes for a page-turning psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down once you pick it up.

The themes of The Girl in the Mirror reads like a list of the seven deadly sins – particularly envy, greed, and lust, with a generous side-serving of wrath. Readers will need to suspend their disbelief at several shocking plot twists – this is a family with lots of soap-opera-style secrets, the culmination of which leads to a very twisted, very sinister ending that might leave you feeling a little seasick.

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle is published by Allen & Unwin.

Standout Simile:

I rummage through my life as if it’s a bag of goodies, looking for something that I want to keep. I don’t find anything.

Feeling Like Your Writing Isn’t “Good Enough”

When I was eight years old my father took me to the local skating rink. I hired a pair of roller-skates and did my best, hanging onto the wall and trying not to fall over. I was starting to make progress when a girl about the same age as me coasted past and said with maximum-level snark: “Why have you got skates, if you can’t skate?”

I didn’t know this girl and was quite shocked and hurt by her remark. I thought: “Maybe she’s right. I’m making a fool of myself. I should give up.”

Evidently her words have stayed with me as it’s now thirty years later and the memory of what she said, and how I felt about it, still stings a little.

Unfortunately, to this day, I continue to place too much value on what other people think of me and my abilities.

Recently, I’ve had a few wins with my writing. One of my short stories was commended in a competition. I also won a writing prize for a non-fiction piece I wrote. These successes were a lovely surprise, made me happy, and for a little while, made me feel validated. Someone “important” – the judges in a writing competition – thought what I’d written was worthwhile.

However, my elation was short-lived. Because a few days later I received a rejection. This time, someone didn’t think my skills as a writer were good enough. I let this feedback upset me to such an extent that my triumphs were quickly forgotten.

Why do I measure my self-worth as a writer by what others think of me?

Plenty, if not all writers struggle with imposter syndrome and self-doubt. A writer might receive discouraging feedback after pitching their work to a publisher and feel like a failure. Another writer might receive bad reviews for their latest novel and wonder if it means the end of their career. Or perhaps for some writers, it’s not rejections or the opinions of others guiding their feelings of self-worth but something from within – a voice inside their head telling them they’ll never be good enough.

Sometimes when you feel like your writing isn’t good enough, it’s an indicator you need to improve. Maybe you’ve received professional feedback on your manuscript letting you know it’s not ready, and highlighting areas to work on.

Most of the time feedback on my writing is given constructively and I’m grateful to receive it. However, there have been occasions when feedback has been more critical than constructive. And as we know from reading comments on social media or published reviews, there are also occasions when people are mean for the sake for being mean.

I know that focusing only on the negative reactions to my writing rather than the positive and helpful responses is unhealthy. And I know that how I respond is my choice. I can choose to stay awake all night dwelling on it and second-guessing myself. Or I can do a self-check – is the negative feedback actually helpful? Is there anyway I can improve? If not, I can acknowledge the simple fact that not everyone will like what I’ve got to offer, allow myself to feel disappointed for a little while, then get over it.

Best-selling author, Jeff Goins, offers some great, slightly tough-love advice in his blog post Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough:

“Let’s name this. It isn’t humility; it’s low self-esteem, and it’s unattractive. Please stop it. This feeling of never feeling good enough is common. I’m not sure that it ever fully goes away. But as a creative, you have to learn how to deal with it, or it will destroy you.”

It’s true that even your closest friends will lose patience with you if you’re a mopey-moper all the time (without a valid reason, of course).

Like all creative pursuits, writing is a never-ending learning process. Even some of the best writers – award-winning authors – still don’t feel good enough. It’s about attitude. I know if I want to succeed, I need to develop a thicker skin and not allow rejections or unhelpful feedback have such a profound impact on how I view myself and what I’m capable of achieving.

Even though the little girl at the skating rink hurt my feelings, I didn’t give up roller-skating. I kept practising. And I got a lot better. I even progressed to rollerblades. And I had fun doing it.

By not giving up, I developed confidence in my own ability. I believed that if I kept trying, I would improve, and eventually my self-doubt went away.

While I wouldn’t be any good on skates these days, applying this same mentality to my writing is the only way forward. By continuing to write, I’m becoming a better writer.

And when that next rejection, criticism or snarky comment comes my way (which it will) I’ll just roll with it.

Mystery of the Month – The Search Party

Sixteen-year-old Sadie is missing, lost somewhere in the woods. Her friends form a search party to find her. After all, they know her best – if they can’t find her, no one can. Detective Inspector Robin Fleet is heading up the police operation when he receives an urgent phone call. They’ve found the kids. And there’s a dead body.

These gripping opening scenes immediately hook the reader before we flash forward to the teens, who take turns telling us what happened in the woods. Information is revealed sparingly as we learn more about their friendships and realise they all had a motive for wanting Sadie to disappear. Abi was jealous of Sadie’s beauty, Cora wasn’t happy when her ex-boyfriend Mason started dating Sadie, Fash had a crush on Sadie that had recently become complicated, and Luke, Sadie’s twin brother, always felt like he was living in her shadow. As the search party treads deeper into the forest, their secrets go along with them, and as the trees close in, they fear they are not alone.

The Search Party is the latest crime release from British author Simon Lelic, who has now penned six suspense novels as well as a series of crime fiction books for younger readers. A story that could easily have become complicated with so many alternating points-of-view, it moves along at a snappy pace with short chapters and cleverly placed reveals so the reader is always eager to find out what happens next.

The forest setting is a perfect choice for a twisty thriller – the search for Sadie becoming increasingly difficult as the rain beats down and the characters feel both isolated and exposed, and as if they’re going around in circles. A dramatic climax plays out on the beds of a rushing river, where Fleet chases down the one person who can solve the mystery of Sadie’s disappearance.

The characters are well-drawn and believable – teenagers who feel suffocated living in a small town where everyone knows everyone, some alienated by their parents, others subject to violent behaviour. But at the core of the story are familial relationships and loyalties. I particularly appreciated the relationship between Fleet and his soon-to-be ex-wife Holly, who share a fondness and understanding despite knowing their marriage is over; and Fleet’s relationship with his estranged mother.

With a real page-turner of a plot and complex characters who are all hiding something, The Search Party is flawless suspense-writing that you’ll race through in a matter of hours.

The Search Party by Simon Lelic is published in Australia by Penguin.

Standout Simile:

The rain had dwindled to a mist. With no breeze to disturb it, it hung in the air like a dying breath.

How finding the right setting can inspire your storytelling

Some of my favourite books are famous for their memorable settings. Jane Eyre’s gothic, gloomy Thornfield Hall is the perfect place for Jane to fall for the enigmatic Rochester; and the remote island on the South Devon coast provides a threatening backdrop for the doomed cast of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. These are books where the setting is so integral to the plot and its characters that you couldn’t imagine the story happening anywhere else. It’s because of the setting being exactly as it is that the plot unfolds and the characters respond in the way they do.

It’s been said that Charlotte Bronte was inspired to write Jane Eyre after hearing about a mentally ill woman confined to an attic in Norton Conyers, after she visited the North Yorkshire manor in 1839. Soldier Island and the grand art-deco hotel that features in And Then There Were None were based on Burgh Island and it’s real-life hotel.

Like many writers, I also love to explore old buildings and learn their histories. It’s a great way to get ideas for stories. Who lived there and what were their lives like? Was anyone born in this room? Did someone die? Did someone fall in love? Did they get a phone call or a letter that changed their lives, while standing in this very hallway? In the way that a character behaves the way they do because of their past experiences, the same goes for locations. They have a history that will be informed and affected by the people who have lived there, or passed through that space over time.

My short story The Sound the Sea Makes, a historical mystery, was inspired by the tragic past of the Bustard Head Lighthouse on Queensland’s central coast. When researching Queensland lighthouses for my contribution to Lighthouse – An Anthology, I found a book called Lighthouse of Tragedy by Stuart Buchanan, which describes the history of the lighthouse in considerable detail. In 1887, Kate Gibson, the lighthouse keeper’s wife, disappeared from the cottage. After an exhaustive search of the surrounding bushland, Kate’s teenage daughter discovered her body lying against a tree, her throat slit by a razor. The death was deemed suicide. This story intrigued me and I began to speculate. What had driven this woman to take her own life, and in such a gruesome fashion? Was it really suicide, or could she have been murdered?

Kate Gibson was buried in the Bustard Head Cemetery along with many others who lived and died at the lighthouse, and the opening scene of my short story takes place in a very similar cemetery. While my story is entirely fictional, the idea of a beautiful, isolated lighthouse with a morbid past stirred my imagination and inspired me to write The Sound the Sea Makes, which will be published as part of Lighthouse – An Anthology.

Lighthouse – An Anthology is a unique multi-genre collection of short stories that celebrate lighthouses. From sci-fi and fantasy to romance and crime – and everything in between – Lighthouse features exciting voices from emerging and established Australian writers.

It is now available for pre-order at the limited time price of $0.99. Secure your copy now or find out more at

Mystery of the Month – The Safe Place

When we meet Emily Proudman she is pretty much screwed. She’s lost her temp job, stuffed up her latest audition, pissed off her parents, and is struggling to scrounge together enough money for a few groceries. But then her handsome, super-rich former boss, Scott, saves her from being hit by a bus. He offers her a job. Not just any job, a dream job. A live-in housekeeper – working for his wife and looking after their daughter in a beautiful estate on the French coast. Ooh la la!

But as we all know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Emily arrives at ‘Querencia’ and is immediately bewitched when she sees the “two huge whitewashed castles standing sentinel over a fairy kingdom”. Scott’s wife, Nina, informs Emily that their 6-year-old daughter, Aurelia, is unwell. Her skin can’t be exposed to the sunlight. She doesn’t speak. And she’s prone to sudden outbursts of aggression. However, Emily soon becomes fond of her charge, and develops a firm friendship with Nina.

Emily knows she isn’t allowed in the main house, but one day decides to have a little peek. What she discovers is strange and baffling. Things get even more disturbing when a group of hikers stumble onto the property and Nina suddenly becomes hysterical. It’s clear this family is hiding something, but Emily doesn’t realise just how disturbing that something is until she’s so firmly entrenched there’s no possible way she can escape.

‘Querenica’ is the perfect setting for a psychological thriller. No phone reception. No internet. An idyllic, secluded property bordered by a forest – a smokescreen for something sinister. It’s a place where anything could happen, and no one would ever find out about it. The setting also acts as a perfect conflict for Emily – she’s finally found a place where she feels happy, something she hasn’t experienced in a long time. Does she really want to mess it all up?

The narrative alternates between three point-of-view characters, the action unfolding in the present day with flashbacks to the past. This works well and there’s some tragic reveals as we learn more about Scott and Nina’s relationship. Anna Downes has written well-rounded, complex characters, evoking sympathy in the reader for them when they do things they shouldn’t do. Emily is wide-eyed and innocent with a propensity to over share – qualities that means she easily succumbs to the charms and manipulations of Scott and Nina. Her journey from a clumsy Bambi into an empowered Belle makes for a very interesting read.

While the story is a little slow to start with, it’s necessary in order for the reader to fully appreciate the explosive finale, and the horrifying moment Emily realises the safe place she’s come to love couldn’t be more unsafe.

I recommend listening to The Safe Place on Audible. It’s wonderful listening to Anna Downes, an experienced actor, read her own story.

The Safe Place by Anna Downes is published by Affirm Press.

Standout Simile:

Hundreds of special little moments – smiles and frowns and exclamations – are being thrown into the air like bridal bouquets, and I am the only one catching them.

An update on my writing journey

I’m not sure I’ve ever written a blog post about my “writing journey”, certainly not one specifically stating it’s an update on my writing journey. I’m not sure anyone will be that interested – I’m an unpublished writer, not a published writer with a wealth of experience and advice to offer others. And it’s true that no-one cares more about their writing journey than the writer themselves.

However, if for no other purpose than for my own posterity, this is a blog post with an update on my writing journey!

I’m rewriting my manuscript…again!

For the past few years, I’ve been writing a cosy mystery, The Princess Murders. However, after receiving professional feedback, I’ve decided to rewrite it as a psychological thriller. I’m halfway through the rewrite and I’m happy how it’s progressing. I think I’ve made the right decision.

I’ve gotten some positive feedback on my manuscript!

I entered a manuscript competition, Publishable, run by the Queensland Writers Centre. While I wasn’t shortlisted or longlisted, I did receive feedback on the first 50 pages of my work. This feedback was mainly positive and encouraging. I was pleased because in the past I’ve had less-than-positive feedback on the opening chapters of my manuscript (in its cosy mystery form) and have since completely rewritten those chapters. The fact that the readers at Publishable liked my new opening chapters was good news as it lets me know I’m on the right track.

I’ve joined a writer’s group!

You may have seen my last blog post where I talk about how much I appreciate my wonderful writers group. Being part of a writers group has improved my writing no end. It’s made me more productive, more discerning, and a better writer.

My short story was highly commended!

This month I received the exciting news that my short story “Sit Tight” was highly commended in the Stringbark Tales With a Twist Award. The story has been published as part of the anthology Just Alice. It can be purchased as an e-book or hard copy from the Stringybark website. It’s great to see competitions like these run by writers who support other writers and want to see them do well.

Another short story will be published later this year in a very special anthology!

Thanks to the wonderful writers in my writers group, I was invited to write a short story to be part of a special “Lighthouse Anthology”. I’m very proud of the story I’ve written. It’s a historical mystery/thriller set in Queensland in 1887 about three sisters, one of whom has gone missing. It’s one of several fantastic stories and I feel very lucky to be included along with them. I’m looking forward to the anthology being published by Lorikeet Inc later this year.

I’ve also had rejections!

While I’ve had some wins, I’ve also had countless rejections. When that happens, I always feel really disappointed. I question whether I’m delusional. Perhaps my writing is truly terrible and I can’t recognise that fact. However, after allowing myself to feel disappointed for a day or two, and then reminding myself of those past wins, I try to get back into the swing of things. So far, I haven’t given up. I don’t intend to.

How’s your writing journey going? Please let me know in the comments below.