In Real Life

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Amy Andrews, Me and Ros Baxter

I went to the launch of Numbered in Brisbane with my writing group pal Dakota Harrison. You might recall I mentioned I’d started reading Numbered last week. I was slow to get into it because I was frankly scared it would be a tough read because of the subject matter. I think most of us probably know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and not all of them have been happy outcomes.

Anyway, I got to meet the fabulous Amy Andrews and her sister Ros, who flew in from Canberra for the occasion. It was held at River City Labs, the space was donated for the occasion by Baxter sibling Steve from the Shark Tank television show.

There were a stack of other authors at the event so I had a lovely fangirl time.

ARC Review

Numbered by Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter.

I could tell you about this book like this…(sort of spoilers so you could skip it and go straight to the review if you likenumbered)

  1. Laugh
  2. Snigger
  3. Drool
  4. Belly Laugh
  5. Whimper
  6. Disbelief
  7. Laugh
  8. Giggle
  9. Sniffle
  10. Smirk
  11. Laugh
  12. Cry
  13. Denial
  14. Laugh
  15. Sigh
  16. Cry
  17. Snort Laugh
  18. Cry
  19. Smile
  20. Cry
  21. Bargain (this was where I killed the fairy)
  22. Snot Cry
  23. Guilty smile
  24. Cry
  25. Sob
  26. Anger
  27. Sob more
  28. Struggle to smile
  29. Depression
  30. Snot cry
  31. Sobbing snot crying
  32. Acceptance
  33. Making public spectacle crying
  34. Hopeful smile
  35. All Choked up.
  36. Still all choked up. *sniff*

I should have known better. Amy Andrews wrote a Medical romance called “How to Mend a Broken Heart” a few years ago and I still cry when I try and talk about it. She wrote Sister Pact with Ros and it was funny and sweet and romantic. I never thought they would combine to create a book that was funny and sweet and romantic and MAKE ME SNOT CRY THROUGH HALF THE DAMN BOOK. And this isn’t some measly little category book. This is a full size book so that is a lot of crying.

The story is about Poppy Devine who starts the book being tested for a lump in her breast. The same day she meets Quentin who works as a chef in the hospital by day and plays in a rock band by night. When he flirts with her, she invites him to do a sky jump with her. The first impulsive thing she probably did in her life.

The sky jump is number one on a bucket list Poppy drew up with her best friend Julia years ago. Number Ten is sex with a stranger. See where we are going with this?

I didn’t notice until we were well through the book that the story is pretty much told from Quentin and Julia’s point of view, not from Poppy’s, the heroine.

Quentin is an unlikely hero for Poppy, who is constantly being told to take risks by Julia. He’s quite a bit younger than Poppy and, in his mind as well as Julia’s, not someone for the long haul.

Julia has been Poppy’s other half for eighteen years, since they met at boarding school at eleven. She is strong, aggressive and totally devoted to Poppy.

This is not really a romance, but is a love story. *wipes tears*

The relationships between the three main characters, with Poppy’s mother and Quentin’s band mate Spike thrown in, are complex and real and imperfect, just as they are.

There is a lot of laughter and humour in the story, but there is also the spectre at the feast, the cancer that drives the momentum of the relationships. It is a very real look at the impact of cancer on not only the person involved, but those around them.

It is a hard book to read. *sniff* But it is also a beautiful story and so very worth it. It is real and magical and bloody brilliant. Anyone who can drag me willingly through that kind of emotional angst had some serious writing cred.

Review copy begged from the publisher because I knew it was going to be great.

Movies I’ve Seen

The same day I went to the Numbered launch, we went to see The Choice by Nicholas Sparks. I will admit that I Googled it pretty thoroughly to ensure it wasn’t one of those movies that ends with one or other of the hero and heroine dying. Overall, I really enjoyed it. There was some great dialogue between the good ol’ boy hero and the uptight doctor in training heroine.

It was one of those opposites attract stories that worked quite well in this case. The hero is a small town vet and the heroine has plans of joining her rich boy doctor boyfriend at a prestigious city clinic when they get married. There was the usual angst you would expect from Sparks but the ending was sweet.

I also watched Deadpool which was right on the other end of the spectrum. Loosely linked to the X-Men universe, Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier who has been doing small time shakedowns of local bad guys. He meets a girl and is all set for his happy ending when he’s diagnosed with Cancer. He then undergoes a secret procedure a la Wolverine to cure the cancer and become a supersomething mutant.

Thinks don’t go as expected and he becomes Deadpool. This is an origins story in case you didn’t figure that out.

The thing about this movie is it was funny. Dead funny. Crude, sweary, violent, whatever. But funny. There was also that self deprecating humour that made fun of itself and lots of in jokes for the dedicated fans. Wade Wilson is The Merc with the Mouth and he proves it, all the way through. Oh and there is a love story. He says so. And the sound track is fabulous.

What I’m Writing

After reading Numbered I’m not sure if I want to even try to write anything. But hey, it took two of them to be so brilliant so maybe I can be half as good…or a quarter…a bit…whatever.

I’m still uploading my latest Wattpad story, Road Trip Baby. Up to chapter eight and still going. I’m only doing a couple of chapters a week with everything else that’s going on. Nearly finished my Sekrit Project so will be working on that this coming week.

I did start a new Medical story for the fast track but it’s not going to be finished in time so I’ll put it aside. After listening to Tessa Dares Spindle Cove series on recent trips, I’m tempted to go back to my historical partials. I’ve not had any success with my submissions for The Spy Who Saved Me, seven passes out of ten subs. If I get a full set I’ll put the Spy series aside and work on something else. I’m finding I’m not getting overly despairing after the initial couple of disappointments. At least I’m getting some feedback from Wattpad to stoke my ego.

What I’m Reading

Dived into a batch of Presents for research, and review, as you can see. I’m thinking I might do a Presents style book for SYTYCW16.

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Recent reviews

Apparently once our entry for the NYCMidnight Short Story Challenge is received, we can post our short story to get feedback.

Genre: Fairy Story

Subject: An Accusation

Character: A Bed and Breakfast Host

Title – The Littlest Fairy Godmother

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Cinderella met her prince charming, but things didn’t work out the way she expected. Now Sherry has met Zander again and he knows about the child she had after they parted, so with help from a very small fairy godmother, they may finally get their Happy Ever After.

 

“Once upon a time.”

Sherry was sick of those words. The only ones she hated more were the ones that came at the end of the storybooks her daughter loved. “And they lived Happily, Ever, After.”

All the same, she smiled as she closed the book and kissed her baby goodnight. At nearly four years old, it wouldn’t be long before she was off to school. Not a baby any more. She brushed the dark curls back from the damp forehead. It would be easier to push the memory of Zander into the past if Alexa didn’t look so much like him. Every day she had to confront those melting brown eyes, the firm jaw only slightly softened by her little girl face.

Downstairs she set the bread to rise for the breakfast rolls and checked over what else was needed for the morning. Only one couple were in residence tonight, but tomorrow a wedding group would be arriving ready for the celebration on Saturday. Three couples, five singles. The rooms were mostly ready. All she needed to do was prepare the last room once the current guests finished breakfast and left.

 

It was early afternoon when the convoy of four black SUV’s pulled into the circular driveway at the front of the guest house.  Sherry went immediately to the front door, curious to see who had insisted in taking over the whole of the guesthouse for the weekend under the name of Destoni Corp. Three large men in black suits were busy unloading the luggage while the other guests milled around, admiring the gardens and chattering. They were probably the bodyguards mentioned in the booking, occupying three of the single rooms.

Finally the men started herding the others into the house. Sherry smiled and shook hands with the three older couples with the same dark Mediterranean looks as the bodyguards. The next guest was an elegant woman around her own age with Nordic colouring and a slender figure Sherry envied. Automatically she put her hand out to the final guest. He didn’t take it and she looked up.

The air thickened and she struggled to draw breath. Zander?

“Surprise, surprise.”

“How?”

“We’re here for the Taylor wedding.”

“Cecy Taylor, who was at college with me?” Sherry swallowed, tasting bile. The girl who single-handedly sent her running. “I heard she was getting married, but she’s lived away from here since she graduated. How come you’re invited?”

He ignored her question, moving into the entry hall, hands buried in the pockets of his grey suit. Hastily she instructed the bodyguards as to the luggage. George, her general factotum and husband of the cook took over that task, guiding them to the staff stairway at the end of the house and Sherry returned to her guests.

“I’ll show you to your rooms so you can settle in. When you’re ready there will be afternoon tea available in the dining room to the left. The lounge room is on the right and beyond it we have a library and a billiard room for the use of guests. The swimming pool is accessed down this hall past the main staircase and along the patio.”

They followed her upstairs, quite happy to make themselves comfortable in their rooms before coming down to relax in the public areas of the B&B. Sherry held her breath when the blonde paused at the door of her room, half expecting Zander to join her. They looked like a couple. Perhaps it wasn’t protocol to be seen by the older family members to be sharing a bed. They were in adjoining rooms, though it hadn’t been specified.

“I’ll meet you downstairs, Jacinta.” His deep voice still had the power to thrill Sherry, even after more than four years. Even when talking to another woman. Thrill with an aftertaste of bitterness. Once that caressing tone had been for her.

Avoiding his gaze, Sherry opened the door to his room. His luggage was already lying on the rack. “I hope you’ll be comfortable.”

He sauntered across to the window, looking down at the pool. “I’m sure I will be.” He turned to face her. “You’ve done well for yourself. This place is quite impressive.”

“It was my family home. A windfall you might say, when they died.”

Something stirred in the depths of his eyes. Pity? “I’m sorry for your loss. When did it happen?”

“Four years ago, a little more.”

His eyes narrowed. “Is that why you left?”

“No.” The bald declaration hung in the air. “I have to go finish preparations for afternoon tea.”

Inclining his head, he dismissed her. Still as autocratic as ever. But when you grew up in the kind of wealth Zander Demetrius revelled in, it probably came naturally.

 

She didn’t see him alone for the rest of the afternoon. The group sat around in the large lounge room being served drinks from the bar. Sherry tried not to notice how intimate Zander was with Jacinta. She couldn’t even dislike the woman, who displayed a casual friendliness to the staff.

It wasn’t until the older couples had departed for the wedding rehearsal dinner with the bodyguards and she was cleaning up that Sherry found herself with Zander in the hall.

“Your friend is waiting in the lounge area.”

“She will keep. I want to ask you a question.”

She stiffened and forced herself to relax. He couldn’t know. “What kind of question?”

“What is a journalism graduate doing running a bed and breakfast?”

“I didn’t finish my degree. I came home and my parents died shortly after.”

“They were unwell? Both of them?”

“They died in a plane crash while holidaying in South East Asia.”

His chin dipped as he processed the information. “I didn’t realise.”

“How could you?”

“True. You made sure you vanished off the grid.”

“You knew I came from here.”

“Yes. But you didn’t come here immediately.”

He’d looked for her? “No. I stayed with an aunt for a while.”

The sound she dreaded came from the upstairs hall. Alexa, singing one of her favourite Disney songs. She appeared at the top of the stairs in her princess print pyjamas, a pink tutu, a glittering pink plastic tiara and waving a pink plastic wand.

The wand pointed accusingly at Sherry. “It’s time for my story.”

Zander stood in the centre of the hall, looking up at her. “Who are you?”

“I’m the fairy god-mother. When I wave my magic wand, Mummy will go to the ball.”

Sherry stepped forward. “Go back to your room, darling. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

“I have to make the spell.” Alexa waved the wand and threw a handful of glitter into the air. “Abbacadabba, bibbety-boo.”

The glitter settled on the timber steps. Good job she had the hand vacuum with her. “Alexa. Bed.”

Her daughter giggled one last time and trotted away along the upstairs hall.

Zander put his hands on his hips, pushing back the coat of his dinner suit, showing off his tailored trousers. “Who is she, Sherry?”

“My daughter.”

His dark eyes had a steely glint in them. “Perhaps you mean, our daughter.”

“Why do you say that?” She was stalling and he knew it, his mouth twisting in derision.

“I’m not stupid. She looks enough like me without the guilty look on your face to confirm it.”

Sherry stood tall, stiffening her spine. “Yes, she is genetically yours. But that’s all.”

“How dare you keep my child from me? You did it deliberately didn’t you? Some kind of warped revenge.”

The accusation barely registered. “I did what I had to do.”

“If she is my child, I’ll be suing for full access.”

“I don’t think you’re a suitable role model for a vulnerable child.” She looked up at his glowering face. “What kind of father would a playboy with your reputation make anyway?”

“Playboy? I don’t think you’ve been keeping up. I’m very respectable these days. Not a whisper of scandal anywhere.”

A cold lump settled in her chest. “Are you married? Engaged?” Her giveaway glance went to the lounge room.

“You think Jacinta has reformed me? Wouldn’t you like to know?”  He turned away as the woman in question emerged.

“Darling, we should be going.” She took Zander’s arm with a perfunctory smile at Sherry. “The food is lovely.”

They drifted out and Sherry sat on the seat by the door. He knew about Alexa. There was bound to be trouble if he was serious about wanting access. Zander had money and lawyers to burn. She had a few hundred in the bank and possession. Somehow that didn’t seem very comforting.

 

Sherry was cleaning the lounge room, while the guests were at the wedding. It was late, because she’d had to shop for fresh fruit for tomorrow’s breakfast. By the time she’d done that and spent some time with Alexa, darkness had fallen. The click of the front door opening and closing and the sound of footsteps across the timber floor was the only intimation before Zander walked into the room.

“Is something wrong?”

“I thought this might be a good time to catch you alone.”

She couldn’t remember where Alexa had gone, but she was quite safe in the house. “I can spare a few minutes. I have to put my daughter to bed.”

“Yes. Your daughter. How old is she?”

The date was easy. She gave it to him and watched him calculate.

“You must have known before you left.”

“I did. But we weren’t talking at the time.”

He shifted on his feet, long black lashes shadowing his eyes. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?”

“In part. I maxed out my text message allowance that week.”

“I read them. There was nothing about being pregnant.”

“You expected me to text you the news that you’d knocked up your ex-girlfriend?”

“Were you my ex? I don’t remember us breaking up.”

“Only because you didn’t have the decency to tell me. You decided to show me by taking out every girl in my dorm room. It was pretty clear.”

His mouth shut, the lips thin, as a scuffle of sound came from near the windows. Alexa crawled out from behind the couch, wand in one hand and tiara crooked on her dark curls. “Are you the handsomest prince?”

Zander adjusted the headpiece with a gentle hand. “Sorry, sweetheart. No princes here.”

Her bottom lip drooped. “I thought you might be, because you knew Mummy a long time ago. Did you know her handsomest prince?”

“Your Mummy has a handsome prince?” He darted a cynical glance up at Sherry above the child’s head.

“Yes. It’s my favouritist story.” She sucked in a deep breath and waved her wand. “Once upon a time an orderinary girl met a handsome prince at a ball and they danced all night. But in the morning, the handsome prince had to go back to his own kingdom and Mummy, that’s the ordery girl, was sad for a long time. Then one day a fairy brought her a baby princess. That’s me. So she was very happy.”

His brows drew together in a thick line above his eyes. “I’m sure she was. What an interesting story.”

“She doesn’t have the ending yet.”

“It sounded like a perfectly good ending. For her.”

Sherry winced at the subtle barb, hidden in his affable tones.

Alexa shook her head. “But she didn’t get to live happily ever after with the handsomest prince.”

“No, I suppose she didn’t. But you can’t have everything. She did get a princess to keep all to herself.”

Anger flushed through Sherry’s chilled body. “If the handsome prince bothered to come back, or even answer his calls, he might have had his own princess too. He preferred to get lai…”

“Mummy? Are you cross with Mr. Dem…with the man?”

“No, darling. But it is past your bedtime. Say goodnight to Mr Demetrius.”

“Goodnight, Mr Demetrus. And may frights of angels take you to your bed.”

His eyes softened as he kissed the upturned cheek. “Thank you. I hope your dreams are happy ones.”

Sherry steered her daughter from the room, pausing at the door when Zander spoke her name.

“We need to talk. I’ll wait here for you.”

“Don’t you need to get back to the wedding? What about your…partner?”

“Jacinta? Her fiancé is the best man. My brother Antony. Now his official duties are more or less over, he can take care of her.”

She steadied herself on the door frame. The room spun hazily. They weren’t together. Not that it meant anything. He could have any number of woman in the background. That had been his playbook when she first met him at the university.

 

Reluctantly, she returned to the lounge room. The confrontation had to happen. She just wished she’d had time to dress up. He was standing in the middle of the room holding one of the shoes she’d taken off when she was cleaning up.

“These are pretty.” He held up the sparkly silver slip-on.

“Alexa’s choice.”

“She seems happy.”

“I like to think she is.” Maybe it wouldn’t be so easy once she started school and felt the dearth of a father.

“I know I behaved badly at college. My ego took a dent because you wouldn’t come with me when I finished my masters. The other girls meant nothing.”

“Except Cecy.”

He cocked his head. “Is Cecy the wicked witch of this fairy tale?”

“She slept with you. I met her coming out of your apartment. She confirmed it.” Her eyes were dazzled by the play of light as he fiddled with the shoe.

“She didn’t. It was Paul Varis, my cousin. She was drunk so I put her to bed in my spare room. Paul arrived in the early hours. She thought he was me, he wasn’t the kind to say no. The rest is history. They got married this afternoon.”

“Is this the truth?”

“I might avoid talking to you, but I’ve never lied. I’ve been wanting to find you ever since. When I saw your name on this B&B I took a chance.”

“I didn’t mean to keep her from you. It was never in my plan. It just happened.” A ball of pain pressed at the back of her throat. “I’m so sorry.” A hiccupping sob bubbled up and she sat on the couch, knees too weak to hold her.

“Don’t cry, my darling.” He knelt before her, one hand resting on her knee. “I’ve a lot to make up for, haven’t I?”

“I should have tried harder. Not let my hurt feelings stop me.” The sobs pushed up, choking her.

“Is this where I try the slipper on you?” His wry tone stopped her tears. She stared down at him as he slid the shoe onto her foot. He looked up and met her gaze, eyes warm and tender.

Maybe there really was such a thing as living happily ever after.

It’s only a month into the New Year and already I’ve broken the only tangible resolution I made. To Blog regularly, once a week. So…we will just pretend last week never happened…which is in fact the reality.

 

scones

I made Lemonade Scones today. They were actually quite edible.

The Recipe

The Real World

It’s been an interesting fortnight. We had our Australia Day holiday on the 26th January. This is where we celebrate  invading  arriving in Australia to create our first penal colony settlement at Sydney Cove. It’s a strange thing to be a country that considers convict ancestors to be the next best thing to royalty. There are odd things that resulted from this particular history. Something our American friends probably cannot comprehend.

We are in fact a country founded on the principles of government social security. When you are a small colony of soldiers and prisoners, half way around the world from home, someone has to look after the widows and orphans and indigent residents. Ever since, there has been an expectation on the part of the citizens of this country that the government should be a safety net. There is now an ambivalence among taxpayers with a fine line being drawn between the traditional “Little Aussie Battler” and the chronic “Dole Bludger.” Good times.

Meanwhile, we have done a remarkable job confining our indigenous Australians to the sidelines. I wasted a lot of time this afternoon looking for an old school year book that published a poem I wrote in 1976 for an event in July for what was eventually to become NAIDOC week. (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee). I couldn’t find it but IIRC the title of the poem was “Gone.”

Instead I’ll share a poem I remember making an impression on me when I was in primary school. I think it was the first time I really thought about Indigenous history. Kendall was a white, Victorian era poet and he wrote this at a time when it was the general consensus that the Aboriginal peoples of Australia would die out.

THE LAST OF HIS TRIBE by Henry Kendall

He crouches, and buries his face on his knees,
   And hides in the dark of his hair;
For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees,
   Or think of the loneliness there --
   Of the loss and the loneliness there.

The wallaroos grope through the tufts of the grass,
   And turn to their coverts for fear;
But he sits in the ashes and lets them pass
   Where the boomerangs sleep with the spear --
   With the nullah, the sling and the spear.

Uloola, behold him!  The thunder that breaks
   On the tops of the rocks with the rain,
And the wind which drives up with the salt of the lakes,
   Have made him a hunter again --
   A hunter and fisher again.

For his eyes have been full with a smouldering thought;
   But he dreams of the hunts of yore,
And of foes that he sought, and of fights that he fought
   With those who will battle no more --
   Who will go to the battle no more.

It is well that the water which tumbles and fills,
   Goes moaning and moaning along;
For an echo rolls out from the sides of the hills,
   And he starts at a wonderful song --
   At the sound of a wonderful song.

And he sees, through the rents of the scattering fogs,
   The corroboree warlike and grim,
And the lubra who sat by the fire on the logs,
   To watch, like a mourner, for him --
   Like a mother and mourner for him.

Will he go in his sleep from these desolate lands,
   Like a chief, to the rest of his race,
With the honey-voiced woman who beckons and stands,
   And gleams like a dream in his face --
   Like a marvellous dream in his face?

ARC Reviews

At the moment I’m reading Numbered by Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter. They did a great story called Sister Pact a few years ago which I enjoyed, so I’m keen to see how they handle this one.numbered It’s about a young woman with breast cancer who is working her way through her bucket list and she and her best friend, her mother, and one or two nice young men are having an adventure of a lifetime. Or what may or may not be left of it.

Movies I’ve Seen

Despite spending two days in Brisvegas last week, I didn’t get to see any movies. I did finish my back to back, one a night viewing of the entire Harry Potter series. This is the first time I’ve watched them from first to last in one go and I was impressed. The character arcs were so very clear and particularly in Snape’s case, very moving. A fine legacy for Alan Rickman amongst an amazing body of work.

Tonight, I watched Maleficent followed by Enchanted. An interesting combination that worked surprisingly well. True Love’s Kiss and all that, interpreted differently in each one.trueloveskiss

What I’m Writing

My larger projects were put aside while I did two short, 3k, stories for the RWAus Little Gems Competition. The Gem theme this year was Sunstone which I had to Google. I also entered the NYMidnight short story challenge with a 2500 word first round entry. Each entrant is allocated a number and each number related to a story theme. My genre was Fairy Tale. My subject was An Accusation and my character was a Bed and Breakfast host. That was challenging indeed. I still managed to turn it into a romance. We had eight days to complete it. If we make it to the second round we have 4 days to complete a 2k story and the final round is 24 hours to write 1500 words.

Now that is over for the moment, I’ll be getting back to my Wattpad Roadtrip novella and my Sekrit project. There are some first chapter opportunities with Harlequin I’m looking at but will let them percolate for a day or two before I decide whether to participate.

Something Funny This Way Comes

While searching for my school yearbook I came across these notebooks. The last remnants of my teen writing frenzy. It was quite amusing to read them and I could easily see what I was reading or watching at the time I was writing. I guess these days it would be considered fan fiction. I wonder if any of you can guess what my influences were. And I still have to fight against the temptation of writing sentences that go on for pages and pages…

teenwriting

The Notebooks of Doom

The Real World.

Big excitement of the week is the installation of an exhaust fan in my kitchen. This has been an ongoing saga. Last year, we repainted the kitchen and discovered just how deep the grease from the stove had penetrated the paint. We had to scrape it back to the bare wood. So we decided aexhaustfann exhaust fan was a necessity. The only problem is that the stove is in front of a window so I can stare at the view while I stir the pot. (one of my favourite occupations…stirring).

This meant that any of the normal exhaust fans which fit to the wall or cupboards above the stove were useless. So we started looking for an island stove exhaust fan. Apparently this is a luxury design because the prices were *cough* a little expensive.

Finally I found a display model at a Harvey Norman store. And this is it. Now I just need to renovate the entire kitchen to match it.

ARC ReviewsallIamHelm

I’m reading Nicole Helm’s All I Am, number two in her Farmer’s Market series from Harlequin Superromance this week. I don’t read a lot of Superromance but I’m really enjoying this. Especially as the hero has that special quality I particularly like in my romantic heroes and heroines. *nods* He’s an injured veteran who wanted to be an animal vet. She’s the town party girl. It’s a small town world with ordinary people you can’t help but like.

Movies I’ve Seen

No.4 and I went to see Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. I’m not a big fan of the type of comedy Ferrell usually stars in. The only movie I’d willingly watch twice is Elf and then only at Christmas when the gooey sentimentality of the season overwhelms my critical faculties. Daddy’s Home had some really funny moments. It had some moments of pathos for Will’s character as the step-father of two cute but resistant kids and the slightly dorky husband of a VERY attractive woman. He spends a lot of time trying a little too hard to be the best Dad ever.

He’s just starting to make some headway with the kids when biological dad turns up. Mark Wahlberg does a good job as the free-wheeling guy who knows everyone and has been everywhere. And his animosity to the man who is trying to take his place with the kids is obvious from their first confrontation at the airport.

The good things: These two guys have something to teach each other and eventually it works. There is enough slapstick comedy that my son was entertained. The ending worked well and the epilogue is funny if clichéd.

The bad things: Well, thererickmanalways was nothing particularly bad in it. Just a vague distaste for two grown males competing over kids and wife without considering the fallout.

With Alan Rickman’s death I naturally had to watch Sense and Sensibility. I love the depth he brings to the role of an older man with a tragic past, falling for a young woman who cannot even see him, especially once the younger Willoughby enters the scene. Watching it last night, I noticed that first moment when she really sees him, after her illness when he has ridden ventre à terre to get her mother. *swoon*.

Then I started watching Harry Potter of course.

What I’m Writing

I’m still working on my Sekrit project but it’s been a slow week with only 500 words. Mostly this is because I’ve received responses back on my The Spy Who Saved Me submissions. It was a standard form letter from Carina UK. The agent from the #Pitchmas request also didn’t feel she could represent the story but she did say…

I really enjoyed your strong narrative voice in these opening pages…

So that made me feel pretty good. I didn’t actually receive any notification from Momentum but they say if you don’t hear from them within a month, they aren’t interested. The month was up on Wednesday. I still have two more responses to come and the results of a competition.

As mentioned last week, I had an urge to write a road trip story after watching Need for Speed. So I’ve started what will be a short novella for Wattpad. I’ve written 2k so not a bad effort for the week, even if it isn’t really what I should be working on. I’ll start posting it after the weekend. Even though I don’t get a lot of reads on my Wattpad stories, I do find the occasional positive comments helpful when I’m feeling like nobody loves my work. Of course I know everyone loves me…

I’ve been sorting through some boxes of older books that were dumped into the shed when we did some rearranging a couple of years ago. So I ended up Prozac reading Penny Jordan’s The Caged Tiger, Margaret Mayo’s Return a Stranger and several Diana Hamilton reunion romances. I also finally read Anne Gracie’s Tallie’s Knight, one of her very early works.

booksorting

We are a week into the New Year and somehow the holidays are fading fast. Here is an update.

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Everythings big in Texas

Real World Stuff

New Years Eve was a quiet evening. We had a couple of relatives over for a meal. Roast Pork and my famous apricot Pavlova for dessert. I did intend to stay up and watch the Midnight Fireworks at Sydney Harbour on television but everyone else went to bed and I was writing my Runaway Christmas Elf story for Wattpad and missed it.

The following day we went to Texas. Texas, Australia. It’s a small town of around 1300 people an hour or so drive west of here on the border of New South Wales. I haven’t been there for around 30 years. We had a picnic lunch and DH and my BIL took some photographs. I was interested to have a look around because I have a partial manuscript I started to write a couple of years ago for a Harlequin competition. The story is called “The Last Virgin in Texas.” I’m good with the snappy titles.

ARC Reviews

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Rabbit Processing Factory, now a museum. A good place to freeze the tale off those plot bunnies.

I’ve finished reading the ARC for the Secret Confessions: Down and Dusty set of short stories from Escape Publishing.  The set is a nice combination of Rural and Erotic Romance. Set in the very small town of Milpinyani Springs, (smaller even than Texas) the eight stories touch on the lives of eight very different women in need of some serious loving. Each one is written by a different Aussi or New Zealand author so there is considerable variety in story and style. They are all pretty warm and some of the language is explicit. I’ve done individual reviews on Goodreads for each of the stories.

Movies I’ve Seen

I took Mother Dearest and No.4 to see The Peanuts Movie this week. I always loved the Peanuts cartoon series as a child so I was interested to see what they did with it. I particularly liked Snoopy in his writing endeavours and his ongoing battle with The Red Baron. The story line basically followed a school year in the life of Charlie Brown and his friends. As an Aussi, this was kind of fascinating. There is also a touch of romance for Charlie Brown.

A dental trip gave me the opportunity to see a movie with No.7, my fourteen year old daughter. She picked Joy. I was curious to see it because it came highly recommended by movie aficionado and romance writer, Heidi Rice and her equally discerning sons. For a movie that wasn’t an action flick and wasn’t a romance, it kept me interested right to the end. No.7 thought it was pretty good too.

I also watched Need for Speed on television. It had a no-name cast apart from Michael Keating and was based on a video game but I enjoyed it. Now I want to write a road trip story.

What I’m Writing

I finished my Seasonal romance short which turned into a novella, The Runaway Christmas Elf, on Wattpad. They have a happy ending, but I’m thinking I might do a little epilogue for Ori and Holly when I have some time.

I had my first writing session for the year with local author Dakota Harrison. She’s working on some exciting projects at the moment. I’m finding it very motivating spending the time talking over progress and then getting into the writing. I spent the day getting up to speed on my Sekrit project. It’s a reunion novella with a musician hero and a nurse heroine set mostly in Brisbane. I’m around half way there so hoping to get it finished this month.

I’m still working on #Spymaster, the second in my Spy series begun with my SYTYCW15 entry. It’s nearly a month since I sent #Spymistress off to several publishers and into a competition. I know it’s a bit soon to expect to hear anything, holiday season and all, but I will admit to checking my emails extra carefully.

That’s about it for the moment. Thanks for dropping by.

This is always a good time to look at where you are going and plan what is to happen in the coming year.

2015 was a good year for my writing with a new story published on Wattpad for the SYTYCW15 competition. The Spy Who Saved Me. I enjoyed the format and will continue to post stories in progress on the site as it becomes a great motivator with people interacting, reading your stories and wanting more…so far. Previously I had been posting the 1k shorts I wrote for writing challenges but the longer format is very popular.

2016 I’m hoping will be an even better year. I intend to work on my consistency, developing a professional routine that will serve me well in the future. I have #Spymistress out on submission & entered in a competition. I have several other projects at an advanced stage and new projects ready to go.

I plan on continuing with my review reading. I wasn’t as consistent this past year due to changes in family responsibilities but I’m hopeful things are settling down and I wont need so many Prozac reads.

This new website format should be more dynamic and I intend to post here regularly with news and views.

Wishing everyone all the best for the New Year

Fiona Marsden