Tag Archives: Australian voice

Easter, when you’ve been writing too much supernatural urban fantasy…

Easter, when you’ve been writing too much supernatural urban fantasy…

I was awoken this morning to excited chattering coming from my dining room. There, upon an almost clean table of pine sat some sort of summoning circle. Its four quadrants made up of spring time and fertility symbols such as duckling, chickens and rabbits. Within its centre was a jar of… bilbies? Possibly made of milk chocolate?

I believed it to be a summoning circle for around it now danced three demonic hordes of varying size and age. All of which deemed to address me as ‘Mum’.

To close the circle I commanded these hordes to eat the bilbies… I had to know whether they were of a benevolent or malevolent making.

It appears they were benevolent and I have it on good authority they came from a place known as ‘Red Cacao’ who only create premium creatures of chocolate.

Once this issue had been sorted and the bilby like objects demolished, I continued with my daily chores of creating ‘life spirals’ from a dairy and wheat free brioche like substance based on ritual conceived by the amazing Quirky Jo.

It is autumn after all and a time to create symbols of life and perseverance as we head into the bleakness of winter. Now is not the time for spring icons of buns with crosses… but spirals within buns of cinnamon, mixed spice and sultanas is another matter.

While these spirals rested upon a warmed hearth to double in size I received a cry for help from neighbouring family members. It seems some bright, foil covered Pagan icons of spring and fertility had appeared within their backyard and they were wondering if I had it within my powers to come remove them.

Upon arrival, I sensed this was a task too great for me so early in the morning and so despatched my hordes to vanquish these icons of spring. These canny hordes donned rabbit ears and other disguises to try and blend into the environment before seeking out the offending items and gathering them in small, pre-prepared baskets of holding. Again, they appeared to be made of chocolate. Upon my command, these items were checked by the Hordes to ensure they were of a safe nature. According to the one known as Eldest Horde, it appears this too was benevolent chocolate as it was ‘UTZ certified’ and therefore free of slavery as well as being fairly made. Good to know these Hordes can differentiate the good from the bad from such odd markings adorning strange foil wrapped icons.

Unusual for demonic hordes, they then proceeded to share their gathered bounty equally as well as check with the woman of the property to see if she felt further Pagan icons of spring still adorned her autumnal backyard. It appears all suspicious packages had indeed been collected and so I left them to it while I returned to my own home to finish baking the ‘life spirals’.

Once it was completed, while still warm from my hearth, we returned to this other family member’s home and partook in the breaking and eating of this hot, sweet, sticky and nut filled repast.

Then, as I continued with the rituals of gathering final minute items from a local shop and setting the dining table with an altar like precision, the men of the family dealt with the animal to fire sacrifices that often take place upon this day.

Once we were all seated, we enjoyed perfectly charred meat on sticks, the salad of potato, boiled eggs and gherkins and other delicacies that seem to be of cultural significance to such family gatherings.

The day ended well with the cutting of the bird’s nest style cake to symbolise spring, along with the breaking of more of the ‘life spiral’ pull apart symbolising autumn. We then all partook in various concoctions of dried leaves and hot water, or a strange dark bean and hot water.

Finally the day came to a close with the usual re-enforcement of family lore, tales, traditions and gossip before we parted ways.

The hordes were gathered, the remains of their mission to eradicate the world of Pagan icons collected and we were homeward bound.

After all, hubby has a sink to unblock and I had a load of cottons to put in the washing machine. As we were doing this we realised the magic of the day had departed for another year, we had chocolate coated children to bathe and felt left over brioche and a cuppa a great dinner tonight.

And, in ending this little tale, I hope this Easter long weekend was everything your beliefs allowed it to be too. For me, it was simply the first Sunday since Mabon – the autumn equinox last Sunday. To others… it was slightly more important. Each to their own, so may it be.

Until next time,


life spiral pull apart brioche

‘Life Spirals’ aka dairy and wheat free spiced pulled apart brioche.


Posted by on March 27, 2016 in Update on my Writer Life, Writing


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Emphasising the Australian voice with a short story.

I recently entered a competition hosted by Pan Macmillan where they wanted you to write a 1,000 word short story using characters from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

So I did. I didn’t win, didn’t even make the top five. Heck, I didn’t even get a mention. Not that I’m bitter (honestly, no sarcasm there for once) as I went into it pretty sure they wouldn’t even read past my introductory blurb about me and even look at my short story. Why? Because I emphasised my love of the Australian voice and how I’d deliberately used it in my story.

Pan Macmillan don’t like the Australian voice. They publically say this a lot. Actually, what they say is there is no audience for the Australian voice and so they won’t even consider it. Which is rather frustrating, but nothing that causes me to waste too much of my time being grumpy over. This is because it’s my opinion that major publishing houses are out to do one thing – make money. They’re a business, it’s what they do. Sometimes, as a by-product, they publish books and even make smaller amounts of money for other people… but all in all they are seeking things to publish that shine dollar signs for their bank accounts. It’s okay, it’s how the majority of the world works, not just publishing. People tend to only put effort into things that will give them positive results like money and fame. Let’s face it, it’s human nature. Why bother being grumpy over people simply following human nature? Pan Macmillan say there is no audience wanting the Australian voice, therefore no money… that’s fine by me.

I’ve accepted it and moved on.

However, I will not give up on the Australian voice. I’m Australian, and I’m damned if I’m going to write like a different nationality simply to get my work published. I will not, for example, write sympathise with a z. My parents didn’t send me to school for all those years just to know where I was every day. My teachers didn’t spend hair pulling moments teaching me the spelling and grammar of Australian society simply for me to turn my back on it so I can get a bigger royalty pay cheque from a better known publisher.

I’m Australian and I’m bloody well going to write like one too! And no one is going to stop me. Yes it may mean I’m not going to be working for Pan Macmillan any time soon, but hey that’s their problem and not mine. 😉

I’m just happy to have found a publisher who doesn’t have an Australian voice phobia. Then again, as a small Indie publisher they’re also still more interested in getting new authors and interesting new works out there as they are at making money. Hence my love of the smaller publishers and why I now have them higher up my submissions list than I do the major publishing houses. I’ve come to the conclusion the major houses aren’t ready for me yet. And as I’m not into being an Author for fame and fortune, I’m okay with this. They may never be ready for me, bless them. Who cares?! It won’t stop me writing and it won’t stop me trying. 🙂

And with that little waffle I will end with the short story declined, and doubtfully even read by Pan Macmillan. I mean, they could have read it and thought it crap. Fair enough, I’m not saying I’m the world’s best Writer and it could indeed just be a rubbish short story. I usually don’t do short stories and so fully accept it would be no better than doggy droppings. Meh, all the same I enjoyed writing it and those of my international friends (who will rip my work to shreds if they don’t like it) enjoyed it too. And that is all that matters to me. Shite or no shite in the eyes of others, I enjoyed writing so job done!

I can’t save this short story up for another competition as it uses character names from Romeo and Juliet and so there are all those copyright issues. So you’re getting it here for free where you are fully aware it has these character names in it as that was the prerequisite of the competition I entered.

Finally I would like to tip my hat to Mr Baz Luhrmann who’s own Australian voice inspired me in this story. Obviously it’s only the literary world that’s not ready to hear/ read it.

Enjoy… Hopefully.

Benvolio’s lament.

Benvolio wanted peace. Despite not wanting to say out loud that he wanted it ‘at all costs’, the words always seemed to silently add themselves to his thoughts every time he requested it out loud.

The world was a mess, everything was gone and this was his last chance. Peace, at all costs.

And who wouldn’t want peace at the end of year Mantua Ridge Semi-Pro Ballroom finals?

Especially with the incomers from Verona Creek being eligible to take part, since their dance hall had burnt down in last summer’s bushfires.

But peace must be had; it was doing Benvolio’s head in. Thankfully he didn’t have to be the judge for the finals. But as Chair of the Mantua Ridge ‘Having an Active Town Environment’ – he wasn’t best pleased with the committee’s name – Benvolio still had to ensure things ran as smoothly as possible.

And it wasn’t that possible. The two towns had never gotten on, and combining them together in this way hadn’t helped. Although the instigator of the committee, Benvolio had never realised it would turn into such a mess, though should have guessed. All he had wanted to do was hold out an olive branch to the poor folk at Verona Creek after their town burnt down and his didn’t. All he had desired was to show community help extended further down the highway than old Paris’ farm. All he now craved was for the two towns to get along and enjoy a dance amongst the tinsel and mirror balls on this sultry summer’s night. What he instead got was an invisible, but distinct, line down the dancefloor where people decked out in their finest feathers, taffeta and tulle ignored each other as they twisted, glided and shuffled through the dances. Yes there was the occasional scuffle when partners from the two towns met on that line. All mere accidents, of course! Sadly one such accident had left Mercutio with a badly twisted knee and he and his partner Rosaline were out of the finals, sitting dejected on the sidelines; her with an ice pack, him with a beer.

But other than that things seemed to be progressing at a level of civility Benvolio decided was acceptable. There were just the wallflowers to contend with. Both towns had half a dozen ‘fair maidens’ lining the walls, also separated by the invisible line. Some, if Benvolio hadn’t been such a kind soul, would have been better classified as ‘old maids’ but there were some lookers there too. The stand out, of course, was Juliet.

Although barely old enough to meet the eligible age criteria to compete, she was beautiful. Fair of face, slim of figure and budding red lips seeming perfect to kiss… by a younger man, of course! But sadly her strict parents had shunned all offers from dashing young men to dance with her. However, this was about to change! A wardrobe malfunction sent Juliet’s mother scurrying towards the toilets in a flurry of lost sequins and fake pearls, her husband trying to scoop them up in her wake. Juliet was now left unguarded.

Enter Romeo stage right. Well, from the side door at least. He had been outside with some of his mates and hadn’t wanted to take part in the competition at all. But with his mother being Mayor of Mantua Ridge, he had had to at least turn up, and in appropriate dance wear at that. On seeing Juliet alone, a rose amongst a cluster of thorns, he felt it was time to stir things up. Why not have a good time and annoy the folk of Verona Creek?

Paying no heed to the invisible line separating the towns, or even the scowled looks from the local wallflowers, Romeo strode up to Juliet. With a flourish he bowed to her and asked for the next dance, which was about to begin. There was a collective gasp from both sides when Juliet grinned up into his smiling face, snatched his hand and strode onto the dancefloor as if worried he would change his mind.

It was the tango! Benvolio clasped his hands together in fear. He wanted peace; would this dance show all were equal and bring the two towns together? Or be the final nail in the coffin?

Romeo looked out of his depth for a moment; he’d only ever attended ballroom lessons as his parents demanded it. But he’d never really done the tango. And especially not with one so young, flexible and pretty. If he didn’t watch his step, Romeo could see himself leaving with a thick ear and their parents hurling abuse and beer cans across the carpark.

The two strutted, dipped and clasped each other in a rather haphazard manner. Definitely not competition winning style or grace, but they were still turning heads all the same. A Mantua boy with a Verona girl? A Montague with a Capulet! But for Romeo and Juliet it was more than just a silly dance contest. It was their way of thumbing their noses at the two towns and their age old hostilities. With each step they seemed to be saying ‘take that old feud about who had the bigger marrow in 1946.’ ‘Be gone lawsuit over who really owned the cow, long since dead while the lawsuit raged on.’ ‘So what if your town burnt down, we didn’t start it no matter what you say.’ The young couple were in a frenzy of stamping and dipping and stalking until a squawk from the toilet door showed the return of Juliet’s parents.

The spell was broken, the awed silence splintering into muttered insults and threatening looks as the two towns, at last, came together. Sadly it was not in the way Benvolio had hoped.

And as the fists flew and insults burned, out through the side door skipped a rather amused Juliet and her besotted Romeo. From beneath his table huddled a rather sad soul, there would be no peace for poor Benvolio.

 Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

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Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Writing


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First chapters, like first impressions, are important.

What do I look for in a book and why is the first chapter so important?

Well, like most people, a book’s first impression on me is very important. And that first impression consists of three things – the cover, the blurb and the first chapter. Some may say that the author plays a big part, and this can be true… but quite honestly, if the first three give a good result, I don’t need to know who the author is. It often means I’ve just found a new author I like!

Which is the most important out of these three? The first chapter of course! The cover is just to grab your attention. The blurb merely the sales pitch to get you to open the book and read it. But that first chapter is the make it or break it moment. I will freely admit that if my interest is not captured in that first chapter, the book is a failure and gets put on my DNF (did not finish) pile. Admittedly, being the good natured soul I am I tend to give most books the first three chapters before I add to that pile, but that really is only if they pass that first chapter test.

Your first chapter doesn’t have to start with an explosion, big action scene, sex or any of the usual overhyped rubbish. Simply try and capture my mind with it. Sometimes it’s a slow, easy read that twist and tangles itself through my imagination so I don’t even realise I’ve past the first chapter, I’m so engrossed in the story. A good example of this is Mary Janice Davidson’s novel Undead and Unpopular. The opening line of the book is: “There’s a zombie in the attic.” George the Fiend informed me over breakfast.

That one line and how it was casually said got me interested. Then again this is one book in a series I had been reading for some time but it has always stuck with me as a punchy one liner that then goes right into the flow as if you’d been part of the conversation for long before the book started. Your imagination is snatched up and swept along with it and before you know it you’re in the middle of the book – way past the first chapter – and desperate to know how it all ends.

Other times it can even be how the first few lines read. Witty, enigmatic, suspenseful… some kind of emotional punch that makes me want to read on to see the how and why. But I do find if that emotional punch drags on to being a few jabs and a poke, I get bored and wander off.

Saying that, if you’re going to start with a punchy, witty, fantastic first line – keep it going at a good pace. Don’t put all your focus into the opening line and then drone on for the rest of the chapter. This is your make or break moment – show me what you’ve got!

I find one of the best ways an author can do this is to leave the last line of any chapter as a sentence just hanging there seemingly unfinished so that the reader simply must turn the page, start the next chapter and finish what was said.

Katie MacAlister is excellent at this. She always ends her chapters with an enticing sentence that gets that “One more Chapter” mantra going until you’ve found yourself reading until 3am.

I have had similar comments made about my own work and in my first book Bonnie’s Story: A Blonde’s guide to Mathematics it was the ending of my first chapter that got my publisher interested in publishing it.

Would you turn the page when a chapter ends so casually as: It was then that my world came to an end. Nothing too dramatic, just a sucking ‘pop’, and all I can surmise was left in the street was slowly dispersing smoke from his used Maths.

Actually, a first chapter is very much like a blog post. Start with a snappy title, capture the reader’s attention and keep it so they read the whole thing. They might then subscribe to your blog, they might check out what else you do. But you have their attention and they want to know more. Make it interesting, make it relevant to the title and ensure you make it sound like you know what you’re saying.

So grab a book today, be enticed by its cover, interested by its blurb and enthralled by its first chapter. Before you know it you’ll have finished the book. That is what makes a good first chapter.

Why am I talking about the importance of a first chapter? Because I’m lucky enough to have been chosen to be a judge for Freshly Squeezed in their latest C1Blitz. I get to read a lot of amazing and interesting first chapters to new YA works. Yes, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it…. and chocolate taster was taken. 😉

Head on over to Freshly Squeezed and check it all out.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Book Review, Writing


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Remembering my childhood and how Cyclone Tracy shaped it.

I will state here and now I was not in cyclone Tracy. I wasn’t even born when it hit. I was born in Darwin two years later and have strong memories of growing up in a town, in an environment, that was slowly recovering from that horrific event.

This blog post is more about how cyclone Tracy shaped my early life and therefore shaped who I am. Even two years after it happened it was changing people, shaping our lives. Actually, it was doing that for many years after it happened. For the first five or so years of my life, people lived in real fear of each and every cyclone that hit. For those who had been in Darwin for Tracy, the memories were still raw and the fear still so real and fresh. For those who had moved into the wreckage, the desolation, the landscape stripped bare by the giant storm, they too were afraid of each new cyclone in case it showed them what it had been like to be in that nightmare.

For those of you reading this and having no idea what I’m talking about, cyclone Tracy was a category four cyclone that hit Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australian on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1974. It was a huge storm, like a hurricane but spinning in the opposite direction, and it destroyed the town. Wiped basically everything out, houses, trees, planes, boats and people. Sixty six people in all died. Fifty three on the land and thirteen at sea. Horribly, most of the fatalities were children… in some cases smothered to death by parents protecting them from the fierce winds and flying debris.

For more factual information on this massive storm, please visit the National Archives of Australia’s official page on the event. As my post isn’t about retelling the horror of an event I wasn’t even there for. It’s about how the recovering Darwin shaped me. Actually, writing this I’ve found some very fascinating blogs and sites that recount Darwin, the cyclone and the rebuild. I highly recommend anyone interested in learning more to google the topic and start reading. There’s some great stuff out there!

So, I was born in Darwin two years after the cyclone that destroyed over seventy percent of the buildings. A lot had changed by then, new buildings had been built, some of the older buildings had been restored and most of the storm debris was removed. I mean, there was still the twisted “three girders” from a house that later became a monument. There were still the trees with parts of people’s roofs embedded in them. Actually, those trees and their shrapnel were still around well into my adult life. They might even still be there, I don’t know, I moved away from Darwin nearly twenty years ago as it had changed from the one I had loved growing up.

And I don’t mean that in a completely negative way… not really. It was inevitable that Darwin would change because the one I grew up in was more a stop gap measure to most, than an actual city. With the threat of another cyclone still red raw in their memories, the houses were built like concrete bunkers ensuring they would survive another onslaught. The landscape was new and barren. Stripped bare by the winds and destruction, I remember Darwin growing up as being a near treeless place. Lots of bare earth and the ability to watch my father drive home from the university (then Community College) from about the half way point as there was no real foliage in between. Being in the tropics that barren earth soon turned green and was swallowed up by fast growing trees like African mahogany and black wattles. But I still remember it.

Cyclone Tracy shaped where I went to school. As the school chosen for my older siblings and therefore me was one of the first schools restored and accepting students when it was time for my sister to go. It shaped how I played at school as I still have memories of the playground the army had built for the children. It was a lot of wooden structures and netting (think army obstacle course) and I still remember burning my bottom on the searing hot slippery dip (slide) as I studied its construction… being made out of forty four gallon drums beaten flat and then welded together. I can’t see my children being allowed to play on such equipment these days, but this was the late 70’s and early 80’s and kids were different back then. 😉

In a lot of ways Cyclone Tracy even shaped my after school care and activities. As some of this time I spent in good old Building eighteen and the then Darwin Community College. My father worked there and was part of the department that tested blends of concrete and other building materials to ensure they were strong enough to meet the new building codes. The building codes introduced after Tracy. Building eighteen was the science building and so my early childhood was one of science and learning the different things like biology, botany, engineering, geology, entomology and all the other “the study of” sciences there. These were people brought to the north to study Darwin after the cyclone. To see how the plants, animals and insects were doing after such a massive shock to the natural world too.

An example of this people may not believe is when green ants came back to Darwin. Yes, green ants! This happened in my life time! This shaped my upbringing too. See, we used to have a Poinciana tree in our front yard and every year it would be decimated by a type of caterpillar we called a looper. I really don’t remember it’s actual name, they were just loopers as they looped along… a bit like the images I’ve seen of an inchworm. So, these loopers would appear in plague proportions every year and wipe out all the Poinciana trees in the neighbourhood. They would get everywhere and were a real pest. Then one year we noticed this strange orange ant with a green bum. We’d never seen one before and they were new to Darwin in the eyes of we new residents in this ever recovering city. They were the green ants. A native ant that had been in that part of Australia for longer than any of us. But I had never seen one because cyclone Tracy had decimated their population so much they had disappeared. This ‘new’ ant had travelled a long way to this lush new world to replace its dead relatives. They had marched north to discover no other tree dwelling ant in their road and they took over. They weren’t a pest, despite our hatred of their giant leafy nests in our road, they were back where they belonged. It had taken them almost ten years, but the green ants returned to Darwin. We didn’t have much of a problem with the loopers after that and our Poinciana even flowered and had a seed pod it recovered so well! Another momentous moment, seeing a Poinciana flower… as it wasn’t something I’d seen before thanks to the hungry loopers.

Having entomologists setting insect traps in your yard and getting excited over discovering a new bug or moth is another memory. Their fascination on life returning rubbed off on me. I think that’s why the little things in life still fascinate me so much. The miracles of nature most people walk blindly past that bring a smile to my face for witnessing.

For people bored of this blog and not getting the point, let me try and explain it better. I grew up in this new, growing and recovering environment. It was the only life I ever knew. As far as I was concerned this was how life was. Buildings the same age, or younger, than yourself. Panic at the first sign of a cyclone. That siren warning to let you know it’s time to go home and buckle down as another cyclone was about to hit. To me, this was normal. Didn’t everyone grow up in science labs, play on old army equipment and watch trees and buildings grow with them? Discover new animals in their yards and watch life explode into existence from a desolate and dirty barren waste land?

The first time I saw a building that was fifty years old – while visiting family interstate – I was in awe. Real, everyday people got to live in such old buildings? Weren’t old building just special places the rich lived in? Or the Government? Yes, fifty years old was old to me! Buildings in my life were the same age as me. You should have seen my reaction the first time I came face to face with stone statues that were over seven hundred years old! Awe was an understatement. Old things were alien to me, as old meant the same age you were… didn’t it?

And so cyclone Tracy shaped my fascination in old manmade creations. From art and architecture through to books and literature… life existed before cyclone Tracy and not everyone lived in a place as old as them with belongings of the same age. Some were lucky enough to live in places decades older than themselves. Centuries even! How lucky were they? And yet they didn’t even seem to realise this.Yes, I was a child and so my views on the world were limited to what I understood, but I hope you can understand it all the same.

Growing up in Darwin itself also shaped me. What I deemed ‘normal’ others see as rather over the top and in some cases insane. A place that had no rain and bushfires for eight months of the year and then four months of cyclones, mild flooding and near constant rain… that’s normal. What do you mean we’re meant to have four seasons? Two is all we needed. Cold, what was cold? Wasn’t that a stuffed up nose that got you off school for a few days? Of course all the food is in the fridge or freezer or tinned and dehydrated. It would go off otherwise! Nah mate, that was just a python, not anything to be afraid of. Yes it was a snake… but there’s a difference between a venomous one and just a python. Yes, termites fly and the air is filled with them at the first rains of the season. Try and not inhale them. That thing on the wall? It’s just a gecko… no, don’t pick it up by its tail! There’s mould on your leather shoes? I hate to break it to you, but it’s March and there’s mould on everything right now, including you! Hell yes the soil can even kill you, there’s a bacteria in it that comes up with the water table in the wet and I really don’t think you should go walking in it in bare feet with that cut you’ve got there.

No, I’m not making any of that up… I really have said it to strangers to the north over my life time. 🙂

And so, realising cyclone Tracy was forty years ago this Christmas… I started to wonder exactly how many people still in Darwin remember it the same way I do. I know of a few, as I still have friends and family there. But when Darwin lost its fear of cyclones and people from the south moved up there, turned their noses up at what the tropics were like and pulled it all down and put up their view of what the tropics should be like… I had to leave. I’d lost my Darwin and an even newer one had been put in its place.

So as much as I love my Darwin… it doesn’t exist anymore. I still call it my hometown, even if the one I remember is no longer there. You can never go home, but it continues you shape you throughout your life and you need to acknowledge your past, embrace the present and enjoy the prospect of the future. My Darwin has changed and gone, but the one that is there now is just as important and I hope they’re never put through another cyclone like Tracy.

Not exactly the sort of Christmas post people usually send out… but cyclone Tracy shaped Christmas for me too… doesn’t everyone have tape on their windows at that time of year? You mean it’s not part of the decorations? 😉

Be safe, remind your friends and family how awesome they are and how loved they are and realise we don’t all see the world the same way as we didn’t all have the same childhood as you. Or even look on the same environment we were growing up in in the same way you did.

Until next time,

Janis XXOO.

Three Twistered House Girders


Posted by on December 22, 2014 in More pep talk than writing, Writing


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Week One of NaNoWriMo over, how did you do?

So that’s week one done and dusted, how did you do? Did you make your goal or pledged amount of words? Did you start out well, plough on come hump day and then end the week playing solitaire with the “I’ll get back to my manuscript as soon as I win this game…” mantra?

Most importantly – Did you have fun? As quite honestly I really don’t care about the rest as long as you nailed this last one. 🙂

Me? Well, I started out shaky as I got back into the mindset to write as Stephanie in There’s no place like Hell, and then I had to push through the mental blocks that have been stopping me from writing all these months. I averaged around 1,500 words on the first few days. Not the desired 5,000 words but better than the 0 I had been managing for so long.

I then had an epiphany around Wednesday and got past the final mental block! The Ankou was working with a tribe of Impa Shilup – of course! And all the words just poured out. I was up until just after 1AM getting the Ankou and a demon out of my house before I could go to bed. I only managed 3,600 words or so – but I achieved so much I didn’t care I didn’t make my goal.

NaNoWriMo moment - finally getting to bed at 1AM.

NaNoWriMo moment – finally getting to bed at 1AM.


I was then stuck at home with a sick child for the rest of the week and, quite frankly, I could not write more than a few hundred words a day. If he wasn’t sick and needed cuddles, he was talking the legs of a donkey through wet cement. Not the ideal writing environment. :-/

And by the end of the week, as I’d been working hard on Haus Frauing as well as Authoring, I was at my wits end this morning. So escaped for some ME time at one of my favourite chocolatier cafes – Red Cacao.

I spent my quarterly royalties on the following – spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with natural yoghurt. Plus the all-important MUG of salted caramel hot chocolate. Inner peace gained, pat on the back for selling ten copies of my books last quarter and some much needed ME time taken to remind myself of the good things that come from writing.


Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.

Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.


Now that I’m home again I am rejuvenated and plan on ignoring my family for the rest of the day and just writing as that’s what it’s all about.

Yes I’m not that famous (I’m famous in my own backyard as I put it) and I don’t earn buckets of money… but you know what? I’m averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars for my reviews, people who are buying my books are loving them and I got a bloody good hot chocolate and scrummy cake out of it. I am a winner. This is what NaNoWriMo is all about – being a Writer, being an Author and simply enjoying it for what it is and celebrating every small achievement.

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books - this is thanks to you. :-)

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books – this is thanks to you. 🙂


So in week two of NaNoWriMo, keep this in mind. Are you writing to keep up with everyone else? Are you in a race to write the most words no matter what the quality? Are you, like me, using it to inspire yourself into finishing a manuscript? Or are you just jumping in and enjoying being part of this big, wide world of Authors and Writers celebrating our love of the written word this November?

Although you can write for a competition, the writing itself is not a competition. Don’t just be filling up the page if you’re not feeling the story. Don’t feel pressured by NaNoWroMo, it doesn’t own you, it’s not going to hunt you down and rip your arms off if you don’t follow the rules or pledges you’ve made. It’s there to inspire you, not stress you. And if there are people out there making it stress you, go find new people as they’re not worth it. Easier said than done by a loner who can interact with others but is simply fine singing her own praises. 😉

Okay, here comes week two of NaNoWriMo – let’s jump on board, write our hearts out, laugh at our outrageously silly typos, encourage others no matter how much or how little they write and just high five all the other Writers out there. We may not all be Authors, and if we are we may not even be successful ones. But we’re having a good time doing what we love best – writing.

And some of us are making the most of it with spiced carrot and date loaf with a salted caramel hot chocolate. 😉


Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself - yum!

Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself – yum!


Until next time,

Janis. XXOO


Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Writing


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Why is the Australian voice silent in writing – why can’t it be heard?

Hello everyone! Yes I have been silent for a while as April is apparently a really busy month for me. What with birthdays, school holidays and my old laptop finally giving up the ghost with a puff of smoke and some sparks. That means the imp has escaped, by the way, and your laptop is now a doorstop. Trust me, I work in IT. 😉

Add to that me going over the first edits of Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! with a fine tooth comb before sending it back aaaaannnnddddd yeah, I’ve been busy. But I’m back and full of some hopefully good blog ideas. Yay!

In this post I want to talk about why major publishers are more interested in a narrative that sounds American or British and how Australian writers are encouraged to not sound Australian in their writing. It is one of the biggest brick walls I have come across that I just don’t understand.

In my most tactful and polite manner I’m asking: Why the hell can’t I write like an Australian? I am one! What is so wrong with teaching the world how we sound in our writing? They seem to like our actors!

No, not going to go all venty and carry on. Remember, that is why I have a Facebook account. I’m just really frustrated over the fact that we must remove what makes us us and be a clone of another country before anyone will read our work.

When I discussed this with friends from others countries, a really good point made was that they have a certain accent in mind when they read and don’t want it to sound all Australian. It is a very good point. Though I would like to point out that when I read all I get is either British or American voices in my head as that’s all that’s out there. Why must Australians put up with these accents while the other countries can’t be open minded enough to put up with ours? Are we just more accepting of other cultures and their voices?

Another point made was because they don’t understand our dialect or slang terms. And, sorry, but that isn’t going to work with me. Growing up, if I didn’t understand a word in a book I looked it up in a dictionary. And in this age of Google, you can find a meaning for almost everything. Plus, I know friends who have read something I’ve posted on Twitter or Facebook that was a term they didn’t understand (I think I said something about ‘chucking some hot chook on a damper bun’). What did this friend do? Did they unfriend me as I was too hard to understand? No! They googled the words and soon realised I had put some hot cooked chicken onto a bread roll. *Gasp* A-maz-ing!

But obviously not everyone wants to open their mind or use the intelligence we all have (yes we do, don’t doubt yourself) to figure this out. They just want to read. Though why they are reading if not to open their mind to new ideas and possibilities is beyond me and I will just stop there before I sound too catty. 🙂 But I will add that I will shortly be posting a blog entry about how idiot proofing the world is just creating bigger idiots unable to think outside the box. But let’s not spoil this theme right now with another.

So! Here I am an Australian author who is adamant to write with a distinct Australian voice. From what I’ve picked up from various panels of ‘those in the know’ – publishers, agents, authors, etc – what I am doing is a big no no and I won’t ever get anywhere in this world as an author. These experts say that no one wants to hear the Australian voice in books… So the reviews saying that they loved my ‘fresh new voice from Australia’ are wrong. Please don’t tell the reviewers that, as I love what they had to say about my book. 😉

Now, those who follow my blog will know I’m a cynical cow and honestly do find the statement “The Audience is not interested in hearing the Australian voice” is like a parent who doesn’t like vegetables and who rarely eats vegetables lamenting that their child doesn’t like to eat vegetables and that they have no idea why.

Meaning – they don’t like the idea of an Australian voice, so they don’t expose their audience to it. And as their audience is not asking for book with an Australian voice – because they’ve never been exposed to it – they therefore don’t want to read anything in that said style.

I freely admit I could be wrong here and there has no doubt been hours and hours of research done on this topic… but I would ask exactly when that was. In the last year? The last five years? The last ten? As we all know how static and staid the publishing world has been in that time – note sarcasm.

Isn’t being Australian a big thing in the arts right now? Doesn’t the world just love our actors, our television shows and movies, our musicians and our designs? But apparently our writing style is not the done thing, so let’s just slip into that cookie cutter mould people expect books to be like and crack on with the good old British strictness and American candour. There’s no place for we Australians in books – nothing to see here so move along. 🙂

I do hope people see the humour I am trying to thread into this post.

A previous post I did on Halloween touched on the whole complaint of Australians not wanting to be American clones… at how we should simply embrace our multi-cultural background and run with all the traditions it brings. We are a multi-cultural place, despite what certain minorities – and politicians – are showing the world. We do accept other cultures ideas and customs and it’s probably why we don’t make a fuss that what we read is rarely written in the Australian voice. As our voice has the many tones and inflections of other cultures. But! Touching on the ‘clone’ issue, sales aside – shouldn’t Australian publishers (and Australian branches of international publishers) be looking at enforcing our culture through our writing? Just a thought people.

All in all I really do write simply because I enjoy it. And am very lucky to have found an Independent Publisher proud of the Australian voice that happens to feel my work is good enough to publish. I don’t write for the popularity, simply to earn enough to buy some good chocolate. So I can’t really complain.

However I will play the mum card here and say I am disappointed that my book loving children are starting to use the American spelling of words and use American slang rather than Australian – as that is what they are exposed to when they read. Why can’t we mix that multi-cultural passion up a bit and introduce the world to our voice? As I say to my kids: you never know if you will like it or not if you don’t at least try it first.

Australian publishers – think on that. Just saying. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO


Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Writing


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