Your NaNoWriMo Preparation Kit


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? For those who haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Throughout the month of November, writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for quite a few years and have even ‘won’ it a few times. Two years ago I put together a helpful post for NaNoWriMo-ers preparing to undertake NaNoWriMo. The post includes:

  • Ways to prepare for NaNoWriMo.
  • Helpful tips and advice.
  • Helpful links.

You can find the post HERE. I’ve also included a handy link in the navigation bar at the top of this site.


Happy World Teachers Day!

I owe a lot of credit for my writing to my English teachers growing up. I was very lucky to have been taught by English teachers who were not only very good at teaching me the technicalities of writing effectively, but who also encouraged me greatly with my writing endeavours.

I went on to study Primary Education, inspired by my own teachers and my writing idol: John Marsden, who was (and still is) both a teacher and an author.

And now, with children of my own in school, I have even more to be thankful for. They’ve had some fantastic and supportive teachers.

Here’s an infographic on teachers. Some interesting statistics.
World Teacher Day

Infographic courtesy of

A Big Thank You!

beautiful&deadlycover FINALWow, what a fantastic launch. I have so many people I want to thank.

To those who donated prizes…

Please support these fabulous, generous people by checking out their websites.

To those who came to the launch party…

I loved having you all there–you made the launch party a success. I had so much fun sharing excerpts and behind the story tidbits. Thank you for participating in the quizzes and competitions. Thank you especially to everyone who got the word out about the launch party and invited their friends.

A big thank you to everyone who picked up a copy of the book…

It was exciting seeing so many people grabbing their free copies during the launch. I am especially thankful to everyone who has been spreading the word about ‘Beautiful & Deadly‘. The free promo is now over, but you can pick up a copy for $3.49 USD/ $4.85 AUD.

Some stats

It was exciting watching ‘Beautiful & Deadly‘ moving up the charts throughout the launch. These were the top stats:

#6 in Fantasy Collections and Anthologies (
#22 in Paranormal (
#28 in Superhero (
#36 in Fantasy Anthologies and Short Stories (
#900 in free kindle store on
#3805 in free kindle store on

bestseller amazon au 2 Oct 11am collections

I am still absolutely amazed by those stats!

Thank you in advance…

To everyone who reviews. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the collection.

Launch Day! 3 Reasons to Come to the Launch Party!

beautiful&deadlycover FINALI’m so excited!!! I can’t believe launch day is finally here! As of right now Beautiful & Deadly is LIVE on Amazon! Check it out here. It’s currently priced at $3.49 USD ($4.85 AUD), but it will become FREE for 48 hours to coincide with the launch party. So at about 12:00am PST (7:00pm AEST) on the 30th September it will become available FREE!

3 Reasons to Come to the Launch Party!

Number 1

There are going to be some great PRIZE GIVEAWAYS! Including:

Number 2

I’ll be posting excerpts and sharing the background behind the stories over the duration of the launch. Plus there are some fun activities planned, too!

Number 3

You’ll be the first to know when the book goes FREE!

I seriously can’t contain how excited I am! I hope to see you all at the launch party. Please spread the word!


One Week Until ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ Launches (and you’re invited to the launch party!)

beautiful&deadlycover FINALI can’t believe I’ll be releasing my short story collection ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ in just one week! Things are starting to get scary and exciting. Not to mention busy, busy, busy. At the moment I’m putting together a Facebook launch party to coincide with the launch of the book on Amazon. You’re all invited, so pop by and join the event! There’ll be book excerpts, behind the story tidbits, fun activities, discussions and, best of all, PRIZES! I’ve had some awesome prizes donated by author D.K. Burrow, Mumma H Nutrimetics, Wrap Me Delicious – It Works! Global and the Leigh Family Juice Plus franchise.

Today I wanted to share the line up of stories that will be appearing in the collection. Many of them have appeared in anthologies over the years and now they’ll be all together in one collection. There’s also several new, never-before-published stories.

The Line Up

Angel Blood

Eighteen for Life


Love Bites

A Troll for Christmas

Curse of the Falls

Island of No Return

Red Lipstick


Spectrum and Captain Awesome vs. Arachnid


Ice Crystals

The Seashell

The Sweet Taste of Self-Loathing

Maya and the Prince

The Bony Finger of Death

Do any of those titles sound intriguing? Which one do you most want to read?

Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly for the launch. I’m hoping to offer the book FREE for the first 48 hours!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish + Prize Winners Announced!

Why I Decided to Self-Publish

beautiful&deadlycover FINALIn two weeks I will be releasing Beautiful & Deadly: A Fantasy Collection. It will be my first time venturing into the world of self-publishing. In the past I had never really seriously considered self-publishing—preferring to stick to the traditional publishing route. Self-publishing has typically had a bit of a stigma attached to it—self-publishing is for authors who can’t get published by traditional means, right? Plus it would mean all the marketing and business side of publishing would fall to me. I didn’t feel I was business-minded and that I lacked the confidence to market my own work.

But over the past few months my mindset has changed.

Why I changed my mind:
  1. I listened to a webinar on self-publishing children’s books through 12 x 12 and it got me inspired, especially when it was mentioned that children’s writers could do well through being hybrid-authors (authors who are both traditionally published and self-published). I ended up signing up for the Picture Ebook Mastery course run by the Children’s Book Insider and I started playing around with the idea of self-publishing my own children’s book. My biggest drawback came from the fact that I am not an illustrator and hiring an illustrator would be costly.
  2. A friend put me onto the ‘Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast and I started listening to it. I became even more inspired. There were writers out there making a good living off self-publishing. I think there is this mindset that there are so many badly self-published books out there that self-publishing has developed a stigma that turns readers off. But the authors on these podcasts were finding that if they put the work in and put out a professional-standard book, they could do well. I began to think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
  3. I started reading more about self-publishing and seemed like a lot of authors were saying that even in traditional publishing a lot of the marketing was left on the shoulders of the author. That was a big selling point for me. The marketing aspect of self-publishing had been a major off-putting aspect for me, but if I was going to be responsible for marketing my work even in traditional publishing, then it was no longer a point against self-publishing. In fact, marketing a self-published book would be great practice if I ever end up being traditionally published. Plus haven’t I already been marketing my short stories in their respective anthologies? This wouldn’t be too much different, except it would just be me (no other contributing authors/publisher to share the load).
  4. There have been times in the past where I briefly thought I would like to put all my published short stories into a collection, but now that the idea of self-publishing had lost its stigma for me, I started entertaining the idea much more seriously. The more I planned the collection, the more I wanted to make it a reality. And because most of the stories in the collection have been previously published, I think it took some of the pressure off, because they’d already been through a lot of edits and I knew I could put out a professional book. There are two rules for self-publishing; one of those is for your book to be professionally edited.
  5. The second rule is to have a professional cover. I started researching cover artists, but at the same time I started playing around making my own cover. Thankfully I have been doing graphic art for about 8 years as a hobby and I have made a lot of mock covers over the years. My first cover was very amateur looking, so I scrapped it and made another. This one I felt looked professional, especially after some tweaking based on feedback. It was more validation that I could actually self-publish a professional-looking book. (P.S. For others considering self-publishing, I highly recommend getting a cover artist, unless you have been doing graphics yourself for years and have enough skills to do it yourself. If your cover doesn’t look professional, readers will be put off buying the book.)

Fingers crossed and wish me luck as I plunge head first into the world of self-publishing.

For those interested in exploring self-publishing, this series of posts by Author Entrepreneur Management Solutions is a must read. It takes you through planning, marketing, expenses and predicting income.

I’d love to hear stories from anyone else who has taken this route. Or what other writers think of self-publishing? Would you do it? Why or why not?

And now for the winners of my blogiversary giveaway!

Prize 1: An advance copy of Beautiful & Deadly.

Mary Preston!

Prize 2: A limited edition short story of your choice from the collection.

Angelina M Linan!

Prize 3: Your choice of a story critique OR a $5 Amazon gift card.

Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky!

Thanks to all who entered and shared the competition. Winners, please check your email for your prizes!

Blogiversary Celebrations – New Look Site & A Prize Giveaway!

gift-553140_1280Welcome to my blogiversary celebrations! Today marks 6 years since I first started this blog as a way to help aspiring writers by sharing my acquired writing knowledge, as well as sharing my own writing journey.
I have some exciting announcements for my blogiversary:

  1. My blog has received a new look and a new and improved domain name.
  2. My short story collection Beautiful & Deadly is due to be released on the 30th September and I am excited to share the book trailer with you for my blogiversary.
  3. To celebrate my blogiversary, I’m having a competition! That’s right, it might be my blog’s birthday, but YOU get the presents! Details at the end of this post.

A Brand New Look

Regular visitors may have noticed my blog’s brand new header and updated look! You may also have noticed a change in my website’s name. I decided it was time to not only get an official and simplified domain name, I also decided it was time to rename the site to reflect my name. So now instead of, my new web address is *drumroll*

But don’t worry, if you use it will still take you to this site :)

Beautiful & Deadly

beautiful&deadlycover FINALThe last five years I’ve had a number of short stories published in various anthologies. A few months ago I had the idea to put them all together in a single collection, along with some new, never-before-published stories. In the coming weeks I’m going to talk a little more about how the idea to publish my own short story collection came about and a sneak peek at some of the stories included, but for today I’m excited to premiere my first ever book trailer!

Competition Time!

To help celebrate my blogiversary I’m running a competition to win an advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’ along with some other great prizes!

To enter, simply fill in the rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Prizes:

  1. An advanced PDF copy of ‘Beautiful & Deadly’. You will get to read it more than a week before its official release date!
  2. Your choice of any single story from the collection as a limited edition PDF.
  3. Your choice of a short story critique or Amazon gift card.

Competition closes: 11.59pm (AEST) Wednesday 16th September

Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Thursday 17th September.

International Literacy Day – An Infographic on Illiteracy

Disclaimer: By posting this infographic, Grammarly is donating $10 in my name to Reading is Fundamental, an organisation that gives free books and literacy resources to children from low-income families.

Literacy Day

Infographic attribution:

On this International Literacy Day, please consider donating to an organisation that helps get books to kids who need them the most. Every child should have the opportunity to learn to read.

Beautiful & Deadly Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to be revealing the cover for my upcoming short story collection ‘Beautiful & Deadly’!

beautiful&deadlycover FINAL

Keep an eye on my blog next week as I will be debuting the book trailer during my blogiversary celebrations, launching a competition to win an advanced PDF copy of the collection and giving details of the release date of the book!

The Basics of Writing Good Dialogue

balloon-898682_1280In my time critiquing, I’ve found that a common issue is dialogue. There are three main elements to consider when writing dialogue:

  1. How to punctuate dialogue correctly.
  2. Effective choice of dialogue tags.
  3. Avoidance of ‘talking heads’.

To start, I just want to be clear on what I mean when I use the term ‘dialogue tag’.

Dialogue tag = said, asked, cried, stuttered, exclaimed, etc.

How to Punctuate Dialogue Correctly

The Problem: A lot of writers, especially beginning writers, can be unsure exactly how to punctuate dialogue. Do I use a comma or period? Does it go inside or outside the talking marks? What about dialogue after the tag; do I capitalise or not? What about the dialogue tag; does that need a capital letter? A period or comma?

What to do: Here are the rules you need to remember…

  • Always end dialogue with a comma inside the speech marks if it is followed by a dialogue tag. eg:

“I love pasta,” said Sarah.

  • Even if there is a long piece of dialogue with several sentences. eg:

“Hi, Kate. How are you? I just got back from Hawaii,” said Ben.

  • The only exception is if the sentence is a question or exclamation, in which case you would use a question mark or exclamation mark. eg:

“Can I borrow your pen?” asked Nathan.

  • Notice you always start the dialogue tag with a lower case letter, even when using a question/exclamation mark. Unless of course you use the person’s name first. eg: Nathan asked.
  • If you want to switch it around and have the dialogue tag first, you put a comma after the tag, start the dialogue with a capital letter and end the dialogue with a period. eg:

Olivia said, “Don’t forget the milk.”

  • Always end dialogue with a period if it is NOT followed by a dialogue tag (if it is a stand alone piece of dialogue without a dialogue tag or it is followed by the character completing an action) eg:

“This class is boring.” Penny leaned back on her chair and rolled her eyes.

  • For dialogue broken up by a dialogue tag, the above rules apply for the dialogue preceding the tag; for the dialogue following the tag you should use a period after the tag and begin the next bit of dialogue with a capital letter on the same line (only make a new line if a new character is speaking). eg:

“I saw him over there,” Tom said, pointing. “He was standing by that tree.”

  • There is an exception to this, but if you’re feeling confused, don’t worry about this one for now. If you are breaking up dialogue in the middle of a sentence (and this is not something you want to do often as it is better used for effect), you will use a comma following the dialogue tag and begin the dialogue following the tag with a lowercase letter. eg:

“I think,” said Kylie, “we should go to the disco.”

Does all that make sense?

Effective Choice of Dialogue Tags

The Problem: Remember back in school when your teachers taught you all the different ways you could say said? Remember how they encouraged you to use a variety of different dialogue tags and avoid the boring word ‘said’ to make your writing more descriptive? The problem is effective writers use said more than any other dialogue tag and avoid those other flowery dialogue tags as much as possible; the complete opposite of what we were taught in school.

What to do: Forget what you learned in school. From now on ‘said’ is your best friend when it comes to dialogue tags. The reason for this is ‘said’ is unobtrusive, which helps make your dialogue flow more naturally. Your second most used dialogue tag will be ‘asked’. That’s not to say you can’t use other tags here and there for effect, but make sure they are realistic (eg: a person can stutter dialogue, but how exactly does one smirk dialogue? It can be said with a smirk, but it can’t be smirked.) If you are unsure, say the dialogue out loud the way you’ve written it.

The same goes for using lots of adverbs, eg: she said, happily. or he said, lamely. Try to find ways to describe the way your characters are talking through use of actions, facial expressions, body language and even the dialogue itself. It’s a good way to include character quirks/traits. eg: Jessica might react in different way to John.

So instead of:

“I can’t believe we’re going to Disneyland!” Jessica said, excitedly.

You could have:

“I can’t believe we’re going to Disneyland!” Jessica jumped up and down, a grin like a Cheshire cat stretched across her face.

John’s character would interpret excitement in a different way:

“I can’t believe we’re going to Disneyland!” John said, fist bumping Pete.


Avoidance of Talking Heads

The Problem: There is a lot of back and forth dialogue happening between characters, with no visual description in the scene to ground readers.

What to do: This is a good opportunity to show your characters’ personalities or disperse descriptions of the scene naturally. By interspersing little descriptions of what your characters are doing as the dialogue takes place, you avoid big blocks of back and forth dialogue which can cause readers to get lost or envision talking heads with no scenery to ground them.

So rather than:

“I feel like we never see each other any more,” said Fiona.

“What do you mean?” asked Gary. “We see each other every day. We live together.”

“I mean really see each other.”

You could write:

“I feel like we never see each other any more,” said Fiona. A tear ran down her cheek and dropped onto the shirt she had been ironing. 

“What do you mean?” asked Gary, his eyes never leaving the TV. “We see each other every day. We live together.”

Fiona ran the iron over the shirt, not realising she had been ironing the same sleeve for the last five minutes. “I mean really see each other.”

In the second version we can see more of the characters’ personalities and mood. It also grounds the readers to where they are: at home.

 And never forget the golden rule for dialogue:

Always start a new line when a new character starts speaking. (If the same character is still speaking, even if there are a few sentences of action in between, you don’t need a new line.)

Any questions? Leave them in the comments!

A writing blog


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,644 other followers