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I have an exciting blog interview planned but it’s not ready yet. I am waiting for some answers to come in. In the meantime, I thought I’d post something about what is happening with me.

I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress lately due to an external issue. This has been hard on me. I’ve had to take sick leave from my PhD and I’ve had awful stress and anxiety symptoms and I find it hard to concentrate. High stress and anxiety increase my overall pain levels so it can be rather debilitating. I haven’t been able to read much at all, or invest in watching a movie or write fiction. I do walk a lot and I’m losing weight.

We live in an ableist society and so we are brought up thinking that we should be able to do everything and when we are not we get over critical of ourselves and also stress about how people view us. For me, I hate labels. I was sent to a psychiatrist last year to assess my stress and anxiety after a panic attack at work. I wasn’t sent to the psychiatrist until about four or five months after the attack. By then I’d been on meds and had two different lots of counselling and was feeling much better. I didn’t want to have a label and so was pleased that the psychiatrist said I wasn’t suffering from any psychiatric disorder. Even though this attack was brought on by an injury at work that I was having trouble adjusting to and workplace shenanigans. But shrug.

I believe my inherent ableism affects my outlook on my physical disabilities as well. The RSI and arthritic conditions limit me. I hate to be limited. I am a doer. I am an ablelist. It is part of who I am. There is so much I can’t do now and I hate it. I try not to think about it. No wonder I’m stressed. So I hate to acknowledge that these things make me less than I want to be. I know I should just suck it up right. I’m getting older. Well I’m 56 not 76!

But here I am again. Sigh. Having symptoms and it sucks.

My approach to Indie publishing has been to publish books that have been previously published and that I have the rights back to and books that I’ve already written that made it to acquisitions but weren’t bought by publishers. (This doesn’t include the book that is/was with my agent as we still have hopes). Last November, I wrote the short novel, Opi Battles the Space Pirates because that was just fun. However, while I’m not actively writing new stories, there is a bit of work in getting the books back out there and the new ones published.

The rights to Shatterwing and Skywatcher have been returned to me. This meeans they are no longer available. Before they can be relaunched they need to be proofread. Shatterwing is done and I’m just waiting on the map and the new cover. Skywatcher is still in progress in proofreading. My approach to this was work from hard copy that way I can use my tilt board and make it as ergonomic as possible. However, it’s still hard work! Concentration people!

My apologies to Dion who bought Shatterwing and then found he couldn’t buy Skywatcher as Pan Mac took it down. He wrote to me to say : Wing dust! It ended in a cliffhanger. In my defence, I had asked for the books to come down in May 2017 so I could have time to prepare but something went missing in the communication and I had no notice of when they would or did come down. They just disappeared from the Internet.

As per above, concentrating has been hard. Deathwings copy edit is done. I was a good way into it before the external stress causing business came back and overwhelmed me. But as I was nearly done, I managed a few more hours. Deathwings is now with the proofreader.

The new covers are in progress too. And I have Russell K looking at the maps. I’ve outsourced as much as I can. I have three weeks to finish revising Bloodstorm before it’s due at the editor. I think that’s doable, even if I only do an hour per day. However, if I don’t make the deadline, it will take longer to get Bloodstorm out.  No great dramas, except for readers because a lot happens in Bloodstorm.

For more of the Dragon Wine series, you guys will have to wait. I have a PhD to do. Although if this external stress thing doesn’t resolve I will probably go part time on the PhD for a little while.

The Silverlands series. Argenterra and Oathbound are published. I have to do a little bit of stuff to get the print file of Oathbound ready. I also need to pay someone to do the formatting for the Smashwords edition of Oathbound. I can do it, but it’s a bit difficult on the physical side of things. (Oh I hate admitting that–it’s the ableist in me!).

The edit of Ungiven Land is in progress. I may have a bit of work to do when it comes back to me later in the month. I had a chat to the copy editor this afternoon. Apparently I’ve developed new bad writing habits and may have my work cut out for me. My editor wanted to know if it was okay if she picked me up on things, suggested new scenes etc. I said go for it.

That’s what I want. That’s what an edit is for. Make me sweat. I want a better book.

This week I heard that I have the rights to The Sorcerer’s Spell back. That’s a sexy paranormal novel that is published under the Dani Kristoff name. That needs the same treatment. New cover, proofreading, new ISBNs etc. I have a half started sequel somewhere. If I’m to work on that then it will be dictation software! If I can concentrate. A lot depends on what happens over the next few weeks and months. However, finally I might get a male torso on the cover! A first for me.

There is administrative stuff that is done and heaps not done. Just registering ISBNs and Catalogue in Print stuff takes time and energy. I wished I earned enough to pay an assistant! Hahahahahaha!

Fun is over. Back to work.

And just for fun I’ll put a cover image of Argenterra here. It’s new low price is USD 2.99. I also revamped the blurb for this.

Sophy is not looking for a talisman: she is the talisman!

Sophy is snatched from our world during a ghost tour. Landing in the lush world of Argenterra, she’s the odd one out. She can’t use the land’s native magic, the given, even though her friend Aria, and everyone else, can.
Worse still, she’s a faded version of herself and doesn’t fit it at all.

Abandoned by Aria who marries a handsome prince, Sophy travels the land with Oakheart, the high king’s ambassador, to explore the mystery of why there is a crystal leaf growing inside her.

Then the accidents start to happen and she realises a dark force wants her: alive or maybe just dead…Argenterra with subtitle

For more information on The Silverlands Series and buy links, click here. Have you got your copy of Argenterra yet?

Also if you are interested in signing up for my Newsletter. Click here.

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Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. Some kind of inverse perception. When I was a child time passed slowly. Now, I can’t believe how fast.

I wish it would slow down.

For me, 2016 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in my life. I left the work force and started a PhD in Creative Writing. I had done my sums, and of course, things change so sums are often being trimmed and rearranged. Do I regret leaving work? Hell no! It was the best thing for me physically and mentally. Of course I miss the huge $ I was making but there was a cost involved. I’m content.

I started the PhD with a vengeance–long days and it hurt too, but now I’m better at balance and I hurt less as a result. I actually felt good for many, many months and I was happy. I realise I can stay home and read and relax while studying instead of in a chair in the study centre everyday. I tried twice this year to get an APA and was unsuccessful, (APA is a stipend/grant for studying) and I have to give up applying now. It was a lot of work putting the application together. Hint do honours and you’ll be a shoe in, they are worth more than a Masters by coursework).  Now I have to look for part time work to fund me. I was hoping for some tutoring at uni but there are no guarantees.

One the writing front, I put out Argenterra in late April. It’s my epic, portal fantasy, that’s not dark (like Dragon wine) and is suitable for YA readers. It’s romance themed too. I thought I’d get the next two in the series out this year but that was a lot harder than it seemed to be when I thought it up. Book 2, Oathbound is with the editor (some delays there with editor moving house) and Book 2, Ungiven Land is awaiting one beta reader comments before being revised and sent to the editor. I’m thinking they will be out in the first half of 2017. I was so thrilled to get those books written. Finish drafting my first trilogy!!! (15 years in the making) Wohoo! Next year, when the books get published I’ll see how the hybrid, indie, self-publishing gig works for me.

Under the name, Dani Kristoff, I was published again by Escape Publishing, this time with Invoked. It’s the third and last book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. I thought this book was coming out next year so I was so happy to have it come out in December. I have one more book to write under Dani Kristoff and then Dani might retire. I enjoy writing the sexy paranormal books, but you have to have a big enough audience to make it worth your while and frankly, I don’t. I’m proud of those books. Invoked was the hardest thing I’d ever written. Nearly chucked it out. Rewrote it almost completely. It taught me a lot about writing. Although it is dark, especially compared to Spiritbound which was light and bright and lovely.

So for Nanowrimo I wrote another Space Pirate book. This time starring Opi, Rae and Essa’s mother. It’s fun and I like it a lot. I’m going to publish this myself.  Escape aren’t selling enough of the other books, Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa Space Adventures to acquire it. But I’m totally cool with that. I want to publish it myself. It’s a bit of light fun. I’ve kept it sweet level in case any YA readers happen on it, but it’s longer 55,000 words and features older protagonists and space pirates….

Also in December, I dusted off the draft of Deathwings, book three in the Dragon Wine series. I’ve booked it in with the editor that Momentum used for the first two books and I’ve got book 4 booked in too. So fingers crossed I’ll have them out in 2017 too. I have to meet the editor’s deadlines!!! Both books are mostly written. I had to dump about 10,000 words from book 4 and I did that over a year ago (then Phd happened). It was starting off too slowly according to beta readers. I have not written a word of the last two books  (5 & 6) and that will be my side project for the rest of 2017. Around other writing and the PhD and part time work if I get any.

I have three other books in completed draft form. Into the Dark Glass (YA fantasy) is currently with a skilled beta reader. It’s the most ready to go somewhere. Cold Soldier (SF Romance) – I haven’t touched this in nearly a year. Needs a new beginning and a revision. The Tainted Lady, my attempt a Regency romance needs a revised beginning and a revision then polish, then beta readers etc. Ruby Heart is still looking for a home but I’ve a mind to write Emerald Fire (the sequel) or actually finish writing it. Half written I think. I have a couple of other things started but may have to wait years before I revisit them.

I have my PhD novel to write too, which will get drafted during 2017. I think all this other writing helps me refine my craft so the PhD novel will benefit.

I have to prepare for my confirmation seminar in March so I’ll be busy with that in January and February and maybe before New Year. It’s my first piece of work that gets assessed and the foundation for the PhD. I will then be officially one year into the PhD too. My surveys that are part of the PhD are going great guns. Need more responses though.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m processing terrorist attacks, the US election, Brexit, war in Syria, Australian bloody politics and views on refugees, deaths of fav actors and musicians. May we weather these things and find 2017 a better time to live in. Highlights, Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, RWA Conference in Adelaide, Shanghai visiting my son in October and presenting a paper on Twitter poetry in November. Also, I am standing for GUFF ( Going Under Fan Fund), which is a fund to send people from Australia to Europe from SF conventions or a European fan to Australia) and there are some great candidates this year all vying to get to the SF World Con in Helsinki in August. (link below)

Downside some work injury related stuff that I won’t blog about until resolved. Worst thing ever!

I’m still addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I’m the world’s worst gardener, besides the Dweeb and I totally failed at sending Christmas cards this year. I’m pleased to say that this year  for me Christmas isn’t about excess as it usually is. My two daughters are vegans and we are having a small gathering this year so less meat, less waste, less money spent. I kinda feel good about that. I will miss my son, who is in China and two of my grandchildren and their mother who are in Perth this Christmas.

Most of all I want to say, I wish you well and happy and prosperous this Christmas, end of year, New Year. I am grateful for my health, my wonderful family and friends. My excellent partner Matthew (the Dweeb) and for those of you to interact with anywhere in the world and on the internet.

Maybe I’ll see some of you at the ARRA convention in Melbourne in February.

 

More info on GUFF

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I’m back on the PhD with a vengeance lately. This means I’m reading some academic papers that get me angry with their generalisations.

‘the ideal heroine in a romance is passive…’ Mary Ellen Ryder

‘Romance’s generic requirement that the hero should be volatile in his affections and sexually intimidating…’ Doreen Thierauf

These are throw away lines in articles that have some good in then but the stuff mentioned above makes me scribble ‘bullshit!’ in the white space.

Ryder in particular made me growl this week.I get strange looks from other PhD candidates. Ryder read some Barbara Cartland. Each to its own I suppose, but her greatest flaw was saying that because Cartland published 24 books when she was 93 she obviously wrote to formula…’which means that examining just one of her books should reveal a great deal about the whole romance genre.’ For godssake, the whole fucking genre, really? I wouldn’t say one book from any author would allow me to talk about all their works, let alone the whole genre.

Her actual analysis of the text was really quite interesting but why put that tripe at the beginning of her paper?  And it was a gothic bloody romance to boot.

I pull my hair out and shout why, why, why?

Luckily there were some good articles, like from Mairead Owen and possibly Laura Struve (I’m still pondering it). I guess I’m learning to be critical. Step one for me.

Also, I find that when academics talk about Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey they lose their shit when it comes to romance. They may be blockbusters but that doesn’t mean they are the typical romance novel.

Actually, I don’t think there is a typical romance novel. There are key features of a popular romance novel but I won’t go into that. Others like Pamela Regis have already done that.

My current fiction reading though has run counter to what these people are saying about passive heroines and violent and volatile heroes. I’m reading some vintage, retro if you like, Amanda Carpenter. I’ve mentioned her before in past posts. The Great Escape (1984) and The Passage of the Night (1990). (Amanda Carpenter writes as Thea Harrison these days.). These book are examples of her early works. She’s a damn fine writer and I think has a great mind to boot. I can certainly tell she had the chops for paranormal writing in those early days. (I’ve read four of her books so far. They have been very different from each other!)

(possible spoiler)

The Great Escape features a 17 year old protagonist. She’s an heiress, unhappy but quite clever. She escapes from her guardians and is pursued by a PI, whom she outsmarts. In this book, she drugs the PI, she punches him, she seduces him and then after they fall in love, she gives away all her money without consulting him once about it. She hates the money. It defines her too much. If this book had been published later, I suspect it would have been a romantic suspense because someone is trying to kill the heroine.

So in this 1984 story, the heroine is not passive and has agency.

The Passage of the Night is also very interesting. The heroine kidnaps the tycoon hero at gunpoint, she drugs him and then takes him to a mountain top in Vermont. The reason she has kidnapped him is to save her sister, but the hero isn’t anything like her sister said he was. He’s angry at being kidnapped, of course, but he is never aggressive or violent. He chops wood continuously to ‘sublimate’. He’s not going to have her charged. He voluntarily stays with her and then she flies him back because she can’t justify her actions anymore. She’s a helicopter pilot and plane pilot and her family has a bit of money. She’s also loyal and brave.  He’s on seven figures. She sees his life and doesn’t like the long hours etc. She doesn’t demand he change his lifestyle but she’s walking out until he sorts his priorities. In the end, he gives up his job.  I think that about reverses the tropes.

I’m not done with the Carpenter read through yet. It’s fascinating.

Other fiction reading, Full Moon Rising, Keri Arthur. I’m sorry. Riley Jensen kicks butt. It’s urban fantasy on the’ boil the coffee over’ end of the spectrum but mmm…not much passivity there.

I’ve started rereading JD Robb’s …In Death series. I’m on book five so far (it’s been a week?) and there’s no sign of passivity there.

The In Death series is harder to peg. It’s futuristic urban fantasy with romantic elements or romantic suspense or just SF crime with romance. The heroine and the hero are the same couple all the way through (very well done by the way) and for me the series discusses child sex abuse all the way through, even peels it back to a very stark and dark root that makes me blanch. But I applaud JD Robb for doing it (JD Robb is Nora Roberts btw) and I think she’s brilliant.

In my reading of retro Mills & Boon, there are occasionally passive heroines and other times not. I’ve not read everything. No one will be able to. I’m not as well read in romance as people I know, but I know enough not to generalize about it.

But I’m happy to get angry at people who do and blog about it…maybe…

 

BTW I still have my survey going for my PHD study. If you write or read popular romance fiction, please check out my survey. I’d really appreciate the contribution. See blog post here.

Articles cited

Owen, M, Re-Inventing Romance: Reading Popular Romance Fiction, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 20. No. 4, pp.537-546, 1997

Ryder, M. E, Smoke and mirrors: Event patterns in the discourse structure of a romance novel, Journal of Pragmatics, 31 (1991) pp. 1067-1080

Struve, L, Sisters of Sorts: Reading Romantic Fiction and the Bonds Among Female Readers, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 44, No. 6, 2011.

Thierauf, D, Forever After:Desire in the 21st-Century Romance Blockbuster, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 49, No. 3, 2016.

 

 

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So this week has been busy!

My son who works in China developing computer games was visiting this week. So there was him and grandchildren and daughters and stuff.

I read mostly romances this week and following on from my previous post, most had no social issues. The Charlotte Lamb I sampled were full on Bronte channeling with a rampaging Heathcliff in one. However, at present I am reading a Love Swept title featuring a deaf hero so of course it deals with discrimination. So I have a happy face.

My academic paper will be back in front of me on Monday. I was taking a breather and waiting for comments from my supervisor.

As for Canberra, it was chilly this week although today is glorious!

And for the other me, Dani Kristoff, this news.

 

 

 

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Today I have a fantastic interview with Daniel, who lives in Canada but is from Perth originally. Thank you Daniel for coming along.

Daniel-de-Lorne3

 

I understand you have a gay romance out with Escape Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about it?

 

It’s called Beckoning Blood and is about twin brothers, Olivier and Thierry, who are made into vampires in medieval France. Olivier is obsessed with his brother, while Thierry’s heart belongs to another. Olivier isn’t exactly one to take no for an answer so their path through the centuries is littered with plenty of corpses and misdeeds.

 

Daniel, tell us a bit about yourself (where you live, how long you’ve been writing, previous publications etc.)

 

I’m a Perth boy, born and bred, but at the moment I’m living in Toronto with my soon-to-be-husband. It was while in Canada that Kate Cuthbert from Escape Publishing accepted Beckoning Blood for publication. I wrote the book at the end of 2009 but it’s gone through a number of edits since then, and then took time to find a home. It’s my first published novel so I’m pretty excited about it.

Prior to that I worked as a professional writer, amongst other things, and studied creative writing and journalism at university.

Daniel, what draws you to the romance genre?

It’s not so much that I was drawn to the romance genre, just that that’s where I’ve found a home. I love reading paranormal and fantasy novels, but a lot of them have straight romance in them (a lot of the ones I read in high school anyway). The male/male market has boomed so I feel there’s more opportunity to write (and publish) the paranormal stories I like. As a result, they’ve usually got a gay love interest in them, which is integral to the plot.

What are you working on at the moment?

I recently finished writing the first draft of the sequel to Beckoning Blood but it’s nowhere near ready. I have a feeling there’s going to be almost a full rewrite. I’ve already rewritten the opening chapter and showed it to my critique partner. She loved it so I think I’m moving in the right direction.

What is your writing process? (planner, panster, write every day, write sporadically, writers block etc).

I’m more a pantser than a planner. I start with a general idea about what’s going to happen but once I start writing, things can change quite a bit. Often in new and previously unthought of ways. That’s what I love about the writing process: the discovery. Especially when one element at the beginning, that you thought was innocuous, ends up playing a significant role by the end (and saves the plot).

When I’m writing a new book, I try my best to write every day, and I can usually do it. Once it’s done though, the thought of editing it is almost too much. It takes a lot of effort to get into the mindset to edit my own work.

 

What do you prefer: drafting the story or revising and reworking?

Revising and reworking. My first drafts are always hideous, but I treat them like a first sketch of a painting. I’ll then go back and flesh out the detail, or rub sections out. It’s a long process. But like nearly every author, I wish the first draft came out gleaming.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Not using clichés. When I’m doing the first draft, I’ll put them in as it gets the words down on paper (unless I’m feeling particularly inspired). Then later, I’ll rewrite as many as I can into something a bit more original. It’s hard to overcome the almost subconscious use the first time around.

 

What do you plan to work on next?

After I get the sequel together, I’ve got two more books to edit. The sooner I get them polished and published, the better. I will have to work on something new somewhere in there, otherwise I’ll feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. I have a few ideas (including one new one that has struck me) but I’m keeping them close until I make a decision.

 

Here is the cover and the book blurb.

The cover of Beckoning Blood

The cover of Beckoning Blood

Book Blurb

A gripping, blood‐drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness…his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

Here are Daniel’s contact details on the web.

 

Beckoning Blood is available on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00JD7EYX0), iBooks (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/beckoning-blood/id852042874?mt=11) and Kobo (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beckoning-blood).

 

For a free short story, introducing the heroes of Beckoning Blood, head to Daniel de Lorne’s website (http://www.danieldelorne.com/the-boys).

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/danieldelorne

Twitter: www.twitter.com/danieldelorne

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+DanieldeLorne

 

I can’t wait to read this Daniel. Best of luck and thank you for appearing on the blog.

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It’s amazing how absorbed you can be in stuff and you lift your head up and realise you’ve been absent (smack, smack) from your blog for an unforgivable time. The main culprit has been the activity and effort involved in preparing my house for sale. Long nights after days at work. Weekends spent painting, packing, cleaning. Then when it’s ready there’s house hunting. My partner, Matthew Farrer, and I are moving into together. It’s a big commitment and a lot of work. Finding a house is difficult. We were gazumped on the first house, just a day or two before were were to exchange contracts. Right now we are biting nails to see if the current deal goes through. I was so active during the last couple of months that I lost 5 kilos (without the gym).  Go me. Mind you now that I’m not so active I have to watch the weight. I’m also addicted to a clean and tidy house. Imagine that. (it’s tidy because half my possessions are in storage and my study is naked of books).

I’m in the last four weeks of my Masters so I’m pretty flat out there and also in the last and important stages of my work project. At least my masters involves some writing and that story is coming along nicely. We have an intensive class tomorrow. I need to work on my presentation tonight and I have to go to work in the morning after all, beforehand.

Due to illness in the family, we’ve had to call off our trip to World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. I’m sad about that as I had been planning it for two years, but it also didn’t go well with buying and selling houses. So early Saturday morning I’m heading off to Genrecon in Brisbane. I’m looking forward to showing off my under bust corset at the Cutlass and Kimonos banquet. We hope to rebook our trip next year. There is a World SF convention on in London in late August 2014.

In writing news, I sent off the sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates to the editor. I guess I’ll hear in due course. This weekend I’ll be signing a contract with Alex Adsett Publishing Services. Alex is very lovely and is going to represent a few of my manuscripts. I also signed a contract with Escape for one of the paranormal romances I’ve been working on. That will be coming out under another name next year. I’ll keep you posted. It’s going under another name because my young adult stuff is under my name and the sexy paranormal has, you know, sex in it.
All in all everything is busy but positive.

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I’ve sent the first draft of Bespelled out to two beta readers. I’m very happy and doing a happy dance!

I had a tough time with my hands over the last few days. They were swollen and achy. They are much better today. I had to resort to anti-imflammatories and voltaren cream. My feet are sore too, so I’m not sure if it is the RSI or the heat and arthritis. Who knows. (It’s done though. Yay!)

This means that in 2012, I finished first drafts of two novels- The Sorcerer’s Spell at 80,000 words and Bespelled at nearly 50,000 words (both paranormal romance). That means I’ll have two more books to shop around in 2013. This brings a smile to my face. I have to revise them, of course. I have comments on The Sorcerer’s Spell to start on with, which should keep me busy.

In 2012, I revised Ruby Heart and it’s ready to head out into the world and so is Dragon Wine. I feel like I’m ready for 2013.

I have a national science fiction convention to run with Nicole Murphy, but after that, I’m head down on the writing side. There is a degree in there somewhere.

I have some outlining to do. After I finished Bespelled, I started getting ideas for two more stories in the same setting, using different characters. I shake my head at myself. I think I’m addicted to being in the worlds I create. I haven’t yet thought up ideas for more stories in The Sorcerer’s Spell and I have yet to write down the ideas for a sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates. I have had ideas for Rayessa since I first wrote the book (nearly 9 years ago), but I haven’t written them down and have to drag them from my subconscious.

It’s been a fabulous first day of the year. Quiet, warm and relaxed. Matthew’s been doing stuff on his PC and I’ve been hooked into mine. I had a lovely visit from Ella and her son, Oliver and we had date scones and a lovely catch up. Something about having a young child in the house on the first day of the year. If felt very nice. He’s very cute too.

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