Category Archives: Writing

The Query Journey Continues …

June? June? How the heckle can it already be June???

My apologies for my lengthy absence. Busy-ness has struck again … mainly in a very good form.

I’ve been querying my book. I’ve had a few “not quite right for me” rejections, which, call me strange, I did find encouraging; they were complimentary of my writing, and even if the agents were just being nice, it did give me a boost!

However, back in April, I had the exciting experience of opening an agent’s email, one who had requested my full manuscript, steeling myself for another rejection but only to find it was another kind of beast altogether: a request for a revise and resubmit.

As in, she wasn’t quite ready to say “yes” to representing me, but if I was willing to make the changes she suggested, she would have another look at my manuscript and reconsider.


No guarantees, I know. But her suggestions make Very Good Sense, and come what may, I’m hopeful I’ll end up with a much stronger book when I’m done.

It’s a lot of work, though. Almost a complete rewrite. So my presence in the blogosphere may continue to be sporadic for a while to come. But it’s all good. And I got to spend almost a whole Sunday writing today, after an Adelaide Hills bush walk through the chilly morning mist, great inspiration for writing about a foggy Victorian London …


… and then the winter sun popped out to warm my study as I wrote.


Note the blue lump in the window, which is actually a winter-hating cat in hibernation.

All in all, a perfect day! 🙂



Filed under Query letters, Writing

And what comes next, hey bust a … toe.

As I’ve  bemoaned elsewhere on the interwebs, I have managed to break a toe. The little one on my right foot, and the fourth toe I’ve broken in my accident-prone life, proving yet again that when God was handing out gross motor skills, I was definitely elsewhere. Probably falling off my bike or tripping down the stairs … or violently stubbing a toe.  :-\

According to the doc, it’ll take a good six weeks to heal. I’m supposed to stay off it as much as I can, which you’d think would really make me sit down and write more than ever, right? Well, yes, but I’m also quite amazed at how much a busted toe is messing with my writing.

No, I don’t type with my feet.

What I miss is my daily walk.

Nine times out of ten, when I walk, I’m able to nut out the plot problems that have stumped me, or I suddenly hear those lines of dialogue that are perfectly right, or I’m struck by those “Eureka!” moments when a character suddenly reveals the Really Big Secret they’ve been keeping  … none of which ever seems to come to me through grimly pounding away at the keyboard for hours on end, hoping that sheer “butt-in-chair” tenacity will solve everything.


So I’ll have to come up with a substitute for the next few weeks. Some sort of mindless activity where the conscious mind can disengage, allowing the subconscious and all its problem-solving brilliance to come to the fore …


Toilet scrubbing?

Fridge magnet rearranging?

“Keeping up with the Kardashians” watching?

Hmm. The choices are scarily endless.





Filed under Writing

Hello from Query Land … and Cats

It’s mid-March, and I’m getting a little bit excited.

I’m about an inch away from finishing a thorough primping of my query letter. The original version was fine, but upon reflection, it really did need a bit of a “tjuz”. As soon as it’s as fabulous as this little black duck can get it, then woosh, out the door it shall go (and thump, shall go my weary head upon my desk).

Then it’s back to working on my short synopsis.

So hard.

So very freaking hard.

At least whenever I look up from my sweat-and-tear-soaked keyboard, I’ll have this ridiculousness to console me:


“We’re gonna need a bigger boat … erm, box.”

I so want to join them. I bet a cat never had to write a synopsis.



Filed under Query letters, Writing

Bigger isn’t always Better

Here in Australia, it’s not only the holiday season; it’s also the school holiday season, and my beloved brood of three is home from school for an entire eight weeks of our summer … meaning I’m smack-bang in the middle of what is always one of the hardest times of the year for me to get words on the page.

Now, my gang are not little kids any more. They’re seventeen, fifteen, and eleven. When they were smaller I used to long for them to be this age, when writing whilst they were home would be oh so very easy.


Now, admittedly, writing with bigger kids at home is a little more simple than when they were small. They can all wash/dress/feed/toilet/entertain themselves. They’re all well past the age where participating in suicidal antics – like seeing what happens when you stick a fork in the toaster or the cat in the washing machine or a massive ball of tin foil in the microwave on ‘high’ for five minutes – is all part of a day’s work, so I’m no longer required to be on constant yard duty.

But bigger kids’ needs don’t completely disappear.  They’re just different.

Like needing me to drive them to the movies or the beach so they can catch up with friends. Or helping them work on their resumes so they can search for part-time work. Or sitting in the passenger seat beside my learner driver son, so he can rack up more of the seventy-five hours of driving he needs before he can earn his licence (whilst simultaneously adding to my grey hairs).

They’re also growing like mad, which means repeated shopping trips to pick up new shoes and clothes to replace the ones I bought only a few short months ago.

And then there’s the grocery shopping.

Two teenage boys eat A LOT.

But the hardest part of trying to write with bigger kids in the house really has little to do with any of the above. Despite the different busyness I now face, I really do have more freedom to write than when they were small.

The trouble is, my big kids have become Really Interesting young people. My seventeen-year-old’s opinions on Radiohead and Tarantino movies and the crisis in Syria; the scientific tidbits about quantum physics and space that my fifteen-year-old shares; the madcap stories my eleven year-old writes and sometimes lets me read … they are totally, endlessly fascinating to me.

(I’m their mother. I’m supposed to be ridiculously biased). 😉

Sure, I miss the cuddles and the cuteness of their smaller selves, but this age is terrific. I really enjoy my kids’ company.  And part of me knows I need to make the most of them, especially when I think that in a mere five years time, maybe less, at least one of the threesome might have flown the coop …

Having these fascinating, big kids home all summer means the hardest part about finding time to write isn’t finding the elusive, precious time to escape them.

It’s finding the self-discipline to shut the door on them.

Oh, the irony.






Filed under Writing

Aaaaand … I’m done.

Yes, after an intensive six weeks of butt-in-chair final revisions and edits, I’m very pleased to say The Colours of the Dead is finally done!

(well, as much as any writer can ever say they’re done; the temptation to fiddle is *always* there. No, Rachel, back away from that keyboard NOW!)


I’ve added an updated blurb and an excerpt under the blog’s “Books” tab if you’d like a peek. And now the next challenge will be going on submission.


Think I’ll take a day to savour the feeling of being finished (that never, ever, gets old) then crack my knuckles and get to it.


Filed under Editing, Writing

Write – Like a Rolling Stone.

So, I’m a huge Stones fan. Have been since I was a kid. I listen to “Miss You” when I work out (it’s got just the right beat for pumping weights!) and the hubby and I have been to their concerts whenever they’ve played our home town of Adelaide (well, in the years we’ve been old enough to go, at least).  The last concert I caught was October last year, and man, after more than fifty years of riffs and beats, these guys can still rock.

Which means I really shouldn’t have been surprised to find some great nuggets of creative wisdom, not to mention inspiration for my own writing, when I cracked open Keith Richards’ autobiography, LIFE. I mean, you don’t stay on top of the song writing game for over five decades and not come to know a thing or two about creativity, the writing brain, and the business of entertainment, right?

So, for your edification, here are some of “Keef’s” pearls –

On how the work will get done if you just show up, every day:

“We felt then that it was impossible that we couldn’t come up with something every day, or every two days. That was what we did, and even if it was the bare bones of a riff, it was something to go on, and then while they were trying to get the sound on it or we were trying to shape the riff, the song would fall into place of its own volition.”

On the futility of chasing the next Big Thing:

“Mick was chasing musical fashion. I had a lot of problems with him trying to second-guess the audience. This is what they’re into this year. Yeah, what about next year, pal? You just become one of the crowd. And anyway, that’s never the way we’ve worked. Let’s just do it the way we’ve always done it, which is do we like it? Does it pass our test? When it comes down to it, Mick and I wrote our first song in a kitchen. That’s as big as the world is. If we’d been thinking of how the public was going to react, we’d never have made a record.”

On finding that gap in the market and making it yours:

“With all the songs I’ve ever written, quite honestly, I’ve felt there’s an enormous gap here, waiting to be filled; this song should have been written hundreds of years ago. How did nobody pick up on that little space? Half the time you’re looking for gaps that other people haven’t done. And you say, I don’t believe they’ve missed that fucking hole! It’s so obvious. It was staring you in the face! I pick out the holes.”

And I’ll let the man himself have the last word, on why he believes writer’s block is bull.

Rock on, Keith. Rock on.


Filed under Writing