Cover Reveal: Squelched

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal the cover of Squelched. Release date January 2020.

Tory’s life is comfortably routine. She has her cat, her job at the Laurel Glen Library, and her friend Jess. She’s happy and content … until she loses her job, finds her deadbeat dad, and discovers she’s a monster with deadly powers.

FBI Agent Nico Michaelson was hoping for the assignment to launch his career. Instead he’s stuck following Tory and her crazy cat. But is she really the monster the government believes she is? And is he willing to kill her, or would he rather ask her out?

Sparks fly in this lighthearted urban fantasy in which the only likely casualty is one man’s heart.

National (bad) Poetry Day

Last Friday was National Poetry Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to posting a poetry blog on the day, but I did work with my students on poetry all week. 

When I give my students a writing challenge, I like to do the challenge alongside them. That way, if they’re shy when it comes time to share what they’ve written, I can share my writing first. Usually, they’re willing to share after hearing my hastily-written first-draft junk.

So, needless to say, I wrote a lot of poetry last week. A lot of silly, poorly thought-out poetry. Here are a couple of them that made my students giggle.

Supernought

They think I have a superpower
A skill that’s so superb,
It rivals every other hero.
Villains it perturbs.

I smile inside because I know
They are all mistaken.
The only skills that I posses are
Smiling well and faking.

******

Cat by the Fire

He worships his god,
Prostrating himself nightly
Before the fiery altar,
His rumbling prayer
A tuneless drone.

His faith and devotion
Are unsurpassed,
Radical, even,
As he attacks any
Who prevent his adoration
Of the winter god.

******

In the Fish Tank at the Library

There once was a mermaid so fair
Passersby all stopped to stare.
She hated the looks
And hid behind books.
A book-loving mermaid is rare.

Upcoming Events!

This Saturday, 24 November, will be a great day for book lovers in Christchurch! Two great events will be running all day. I’ve teamed up with author Jo Carson-Barr, so we’ll both have a presence at each event.

Jo will be meeting readers and selling both our books at the Wham Bam Author Jam, at the Addington Raceway from 10 to 4. Lots of other authors will be there, too, from New Zealand and Australia. It’s a great chance to discover some new authors and books!

Get tickets and more info

I’ll be at the Tamariki Book Festival in Raoura Park from 10 to 3, along with a bunch of other local authors. The Festival includes readings (mine is at 10.20 am), activities for kids (including a scavenger hunt with prizes!), and opportunities for kids of all ages to do a little creative writing of their own. I’ll have live insects for kids to check out, and will talk about how I use science in my creative writing. I’ll also be selling my books and Jo’s.

Get more info about the festival

 

Breaking up the Work

Edits and notes … tackling one at a time

I’ve neglected my blog lately. Between springtime and the end of the school year, I’ve felt like my time at the computer has been limited, and I’ve felt the need to focus on editing.

I know, most people would take any excuse to avoid editing, and I admit it can be daunting to wade through a 70,000-word first draft of a story, knowing it needs lots of work.

It’s a bit like tackling the garden in springtime. If I look at the entire garden—all 300 square metres of it (about 3200 square feet)—when it’s waist-high with weeds in September, I freak out. It’s too much to do. I think I can’t possibly clear all that area, turn all that soil, haul compost to it, and then plant it. It’s more than one person can do.

But I do it every year.

I divide the garden into 26 beds, and I make myself a weekly plan from September through November. Each week, I have certain tasks, certain beds to prepare, and I don’t let myself look at or think about everything else that needs to be done. Each piece seems doable, and since I think I can do it, I dive right in without freaking out. Bed by bed, the entire garden is cleared, turned, composted and planted. When I arrive at late November, I can look at a beautifully prepared and planted garden and think, “Wow! I did that!”

It’s the same with editing. A first draft of a novel is a horribly weedy garden—there are inconsistencies, plot holes, leaps of time that make no sense (sometimes unintended time travel, too), typos, spelling errors, grammatical errors, scenes that don’t advance the plot, scenes in the wrong places … the list of problems with a first draft could scare anyone away from editing.

So I break it into chunks, just like the garden.

I read through my novel over and over, and each time I focus on one or two problems. I start with the big ones—continuity, inconsistency, plot holes, pacing. Then I move on to smaller problems—characterisation, dialogue, action within each scene. Then I move on to even smaller problems—grammar, spelling, and regional language issues. With each reading, I focus on a subset of things, ignoring everything else.

And suddenly, editing isn’t overwhelming. It’s manageable and even enjoyable, because I can see the improvement at each step of the way, without fretting about all the work still to come.

Hence the neglected blog—when I’m having fun editing, sometimes I forget to stop and do other things.

Random acts of poetry

Random Acts of Poetry Day was apparently the 3rd of October. I didn’t know about it until the following day, but it seems to me that it’s even more fitting to celebrate Random Acts of Poetry Day on some other, random, day. And since I’m feeling random today, here is a poem for you all. 

Chaos Theory:
Sammy Sandoval meets Sargent Shriver and Edward Lorenz in a young brain on a narrow footpath after dark.

The base beat
of Sammy’s accordion
faded into the night
like a heartbeat
after a long run.

Silence
save for the tap of rubber sole on packed earth,
the trill of the tropical screech owl,
the whisper of moth wings.

Those tiny wingbeats,
creating a tornado,
not on the other side of the world,
But here.
Inside.
Peeling back the roof to expose the beams,
rearranging the furniture,
toppling trees across the path,
hurling the neighbour’s car into my kitchen,
shattering mirrors,
slamming the door to the past.

And the folded bellows
of the future
breathed in and out,
humming in my ears,
masking the click
of the lock behind.