On tour!

I’m going on tour!  Well, my book is.

During May, Over the Edge will be featured on various different book blogs and websites.  So the picture above might be a bit misleading really, but you get the idea 🙂

There’ll be reviews and interviews, and some of the questions I’ve been asked have really made me stop and think. Like, who would I want to play Angus in a movie version of the book?  I had no idea because Angus is, well, Angus.  It was kind of fun thinking that one through, though, and I eventually came up with an answer  🙂

I was also asked about Zoe’s bucket list, and do I have a list of my own and if so, what’s on it.  Unlike Zoe, I’m not a list maker.  I wing it when I go to the supermarket (and that’s probably why I always come home without the thing I went for).  There are things I’d like to do, but those things change all the time.  My bucket list this year is probably very different to what it would have been last year, and next years might be different again.  Although, there are a few things, apart from writing a book, that have always been on my mind to do.  Travel across Europe on the Orient Express (without being murdered) is one of them.  And though I didn’t list it in my answer, I’d love to dig on an archaeological site.  Yeah, move over Indianna Jones.

Taking part in the tour has been a lot of fun and the first stop is Beyond The Squee Book Reviews on 4th May.  So, if you’d like to know how I came up with my characters and their names, or my favourite part of the story, or the scene that was the most difficult to write, come and join me on tour 🙂   I’ll be posting more details soon.

 

Over the edge small button

 

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Someone asked me recently how much of myself was in Over the Edge.  The truth is, not a lot.  Zoe is not based on me, or anyone I know, but I will admit that a couple of her more embarrassing moments might also be mine.

Like the banana incident (hence the photo above).  Shall I share it with you?

It was a few years ago now, back before we had kids.  My husband and I were travelling from Queensland to Sydney and stopped off in Coffs Harbour.  For those who don’t know, Coffs Harbour is a well-known tourist destination on the north coast of New South Wales, home to beautiful beaches, banana plantations, and the iconic Aussie tourist attraction The Big Banana – an enormous piece of fibreglass fruit.

So, we stopped at the Big Banana, like you do when you travel through Coffs.  It was a warm day and we took our time as we strolled around the plantation and bought chocolate covered bananas at the kiosk.  Yum.  I was still eating mine as we headed back to the car, savouring it, licking the melting chocolate from my fingers.

On the way out of town we stopped for petrol.  I got out to fill the tank, not realising that the service station provided driveway service.  The young guy who came to help gave me a big smile.  He made small talk, asked if we were passing through and had we been to see the Big Banana.  He nodded when I said yes.  His smile grew and he asked me if I’d tried one of the famous chocolate covered bananas.

“Yes,” I smiled back.

“Did you enjoy it?” he asked, grinning now.  When I told him it was delicious, he chuckled.

The petrol flowed, the small talk continued and so did the chuckles.  Once the tank was filled and paid for I climbed back in the car and commented to my husband on what a friendly, smiley guy the attendant was.

It was at this point that my beloved looked at me properly for the first time since we’d got into the car.  I thought he might agree with my assessment of the service station attendant.  Maybe he’d smile and suggest a walk on the beach before the long drive home.  Or perhaps he’d ask where I’d like to stop for lunch.  You can imagine my surprise when his jaw dropped and his eyes bulged and he said…

“Sue?  What is on your face?”

My own jaw dropped as I stared in the rearvision mirror. The chocolatey smudge on my chin I could maybe understand.  The smear on my cheek – okay I could accept that.  But my nose?  Under my eye?  My earlobe?  And…my eyebrow?  Seriously.  My chocolate covered banana had given me a chocolate coated eyebrow.

How?  How?

Bloody melting chocolate.  Bloody iconic banana.

When I looked up at the attendant filling another tank, he was still bloody laughing.

I’ve not been back to visit that oversized piece of fibreglass fruit since.

So, there you go.  One of my most embarrassing moments.  But also a funny moment, as my husband will tell you.  Although I can see the humour now too – it’s only taken ten years or so.  And because truth is sometimes stranger, and funnier, than fiction, that embarrassing moment, or a vague version of it, has made its way into my book.  And so has the incident with the beanie toys and the pooper scooper, but that’s another story 🙂

But on to other things…

This picture below is Whale Beach.  It’s a lovely part of Sydney and features quite a bit in Over the Edge.  I posted the picture a while ago on my Facebook page, and last weekend a friend said how much she liked it, so I thought I’d share it here, too.  Whale Beach is where Zoe thinks she’ll find some serenity, but gets just the opposite 🙂

Oh, and before I go…

In case you missed it, Over the Edge has a book trailer now.  If you’d like, you can view it here.  🙂

I’ll get to that in a minute, but first…

 

About ten years ago I did a creative writing course by correspondence.  It was great fun and at the end I received a diploma and the Round Tuit you see in the photo above.  I’d forgotten all about my Round Tuit, until I read an article this week on procrastination.

When it comes to writing, I procrastinate a lot.  Of course, there are times when inspiration hits and the words pour forth and I can’t wait to get to my laptop and write it all down.

But then there are the other times.  Times when I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to say it.  Times when I know I have a deadline but the words won’t come.  That is when the internet beckons, and sometimes I wonder how Over the Edge was ever finished.

Some writers might decide the house needs cleaning before they can sit down and write that tricky ephiphany scene.  Or they’ll decide the car really needs a wash before the hero finds a way to declare his undying love.  But my house stays messy.  The car is a shambles, because I “research”.  Yeah, that’s what I call it.  Not procrastination.  Research.

Like the day I sat down to write a scene with Angus in his top-floor office of a Sydney skyscraper.  There I was, kids at school, house to myself, no distractions, ready to write…and I decided the first thing I should do is work out which floor Angus’ office was actually on.  I spent a good twenty minutes Googling the heights of Sydney office towers, working out a small, single detail that could’ve been added later on, after the scene was done.  It was the same when Zoe wanted to buy a new satchel bag.  I spent half the morning looking up designer bags without writing a single word.

And so often one thing leads to another.  My research on hiking boots went from websites about rugged outdoor gear to image galleries of glamorous stilettos.  Of course.   And my investigation into pre-nuptial agreements led me to forums about wedding disasters.   Grooms throwing up over brides, collapsing cakes and carjackers stealing the wedding limousine.  Then there was the jealous best-man who burnt down the reception hall, and the mother-in-law who had an allergic reaction to the main course.  It was like being sucked into a black hole of marital mishaps and I couldn’t climb out. Before I knew it the afternoon had disappeared, the kids were home from school and I’d written two sentences.  Two.

But all research is valuable, isn’t it?  I mean, I mightn’t need to know about surf-style dog leads or inflatable Santa sleighs for this story, but I might for the next one.  Right?  Right 🙂

And now, a new visual clue for Over the Edge 🙂

 

Something like this…

Does this photo look vaguely familiar?

ShoesOver_the_Edge Cover 2

 

 

 

 

I’ve never been an artistic person.  With me, a stick figure is about as good as it gets.  I’m a disaster at Draw Something.  And don’t get me started on Pictionary.  I’ve not played that boardgame since my team suffered a harrowing defeat about ten years ago.  Although, in my defense, how can anyone be expected to draw Bogner Regis?  I ask you, seriously, how?

So when the art department at The Writer’s Coffee Shop asked me if I wanted to discuss any thoughts about the cover for Over the Edge, I didn’t know where to start.   I hadn’t thought a lot about what the book would look like.  I’d been too busy writing the words to go inside the cover. But once I did start thinking, the first thing that came to mind was…shoes.

The very talented Jada D’Lee contacted me and I explained that shoes play a subtle but important part in Zoe and Angus’ story.  I tried to describe in an email the image that was so clear now in my mind.  “A man’s hiking boot, and a woman’s evening shoe.  Sort of angled in different directions, but together.  As a drawing.  Cartoonesque.”

I knew my written description was probably on par with my sketch of bloody Bogner Regis (I’m still bitter, yes),  so I went to the cupboard, pulled out my husband’s bushwalking boots and my “good shoes” and arranged them on the dining room table.  Then I took a photo, which you see above, and sent it off to Jada with a note…”maybe something like this?”  I was kind of shocked when she emailed back and said, “Hey, I think we can use this!”  And I love what she did with it.  The colour, the shading and shadow.  Setting the shoes in a frame.  The different fonts.  It definitely surpassed the vision in my head.  And the shoes on my dining table.

I wonder what Jada would’ve done for Bogner Regis??

And now, another visual clue for Over the Edge 🙂

Let the music play. Not.

La, la, lalalalaaaa…

 

Someone asked me the other day what music I listen to while I write.  He seemed a little surprised when I said I don’t.

It’s not that I don’t like music.  I do.  But I can’t listen to it while I write.  It’s too distracting and my chair becomes a stage and my laptop the audience as I sing along, dancing in my seat, belting out Katy Perry or Pink, maybe Adele, in a, no doubt, Grammy-winning performance.  Which reminds me, I should probably put masking tape over the little web cam thingy, just in case.

Classical music doesn’t work for me, either.  I sway and hum and drum my fingers on the desk instead of the keyboard.

The gentle strains of Cat Stevens are beautiful.  I love Clannad with their haunting Celtic melodies.  I mightn’t sing and dance with them quite like I would with Katy, but there’s still humming to be done.  And swaying.  Always swaying.  Once I almost swayed the desk lamp onto the floor.

So the music stays off.  Which is probably for the best.  Or Zoe and Angus would still be waiting for me to finish their story.

And that brings me to the next picture teaser for Over the Edge.  This one is courtesy of my sister-in-law, who didn’t miss a beat when I rang her a couple of weeks ago and said…

“Um, you know that decorative pewter starfish in your bathroom?  Do you think you could take a photo of it on your living room floor for me?  With a dog leash?  Please?”

And here it is 🙂

 

You’re Kidding Me, Right?

What’s in a name?

Of course, I knew writing a novel would be a challenge.  I knew, from previous attempts, there’d be times when the words refused to come.  Or my characters mightn’t behave as I wanted them to.  But one of the biggest, and definitely most unexpected, challenges, was trying to find names for fictitious organisations or landmarks.

Everything’s taken, I tell you.  Everything.  I discovered this during one particular late-night writing session.

It was during an early draft of Over the Edge.  Zoe was thinking of joining an environmental group.  I’d called them The Green Alliance.  They weren’t a big part of the story.  Just a single line.  But when I did a quick check on the name, Google revealed it was already taken.  The Green Alliance is an environmental think tank in the UK.

Okay, so my first choice wasn’t going to work.  That was fine.  I wasn’t preturbed and I quickly came up with another name.  Tree Warriors.  But it turns out Tree Warriors is a stump removal company in Victoria.  And apparently Nature First is a supplier of semi-mature trees in Gloucester while Green Future offers surveillance on fibre optic cable routes in Africa.  So I took a deep breath, got myself a cup of tea and kept searching.

Project Planet, Planet Project, The Green Lobby, Eco First, Earth Watch…all gone.  I didn’t have this much trouble naming my children.

One Planet, Earth First, One Earth, Eco Warriors…the list went on.  And on.

Night slipped into the early hours of a new day and, finally, with a slightly hysterical laugh, I decided to call my environmental group Penguins for Peace. Because that couldn’t be already taken, right?

Wrong.

Penguins for Peace is part of a larger environmental group called Peace by Peace.

I nearly choked on my tea.  And that was when I decided to send Zoe to sushi classes instead.

Maybe I should have sent her on a photography course, because then I could make a smooth segue to this latest picture teaser below 🙂   But in the absence of such a segue, I’ll just say…. here’s the latest visual clue from Over the Edge  🙂  Hope you like it.

Thunderbolts and Lightning

What do a tacky television talent show and a raging thunderstorm have in common with Pegasus, the mythical winged horse?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18779019

The 1st of March will be a big day at our place 🙂

Last year I was surprised and excited to be one of five authors invited to take part in the AudioGo Fandom Meets Original Fic contest. The genre was Young Adult Romance. The theme was “lost and found” and, according to the contest conditions, that phrase had to appear in the story at least once. There was a picture prompt too; a park bench, empty except for a book left behind and forgotten. That park bench also had to find a place in the story. Literally, metaphorically, symbolically – it didn’t matter how, as long as it had a part somewhere. Oh, and the story had to fit into 5000 words.

There were so many directions this could take.  So many things can be lost and found, after all. Objects. Love. Dignity. Opportunities. People. And I think that was the most challenging part; trying to decide which way to go.

I toyed with an historical scenario for a while, all long skirts and stable boys and missing jewels. But that idea was pushed aside by thoughts of a mystery object found late one night on an almost empty train. I liked the mystery object. Its story was the sort that would chill spines. But it didn’t really lend itself to a young adult romance. Not within 5000 words, anyway.

So I kept sifting through ideas. A missed audition. A lost phone. The love letter delivered to the wrong address. Then from nowhere, Tom and Georgia strolled into view. The busker and the art student. And I kind of fell in love.

The Thunderstorm was the winning entry and now it will be published as an eBook on 1st March, both as a story on its own, and as part of the Lost and Found Anthology. My family has the champagne and streamers ready 🙂

UPDATE – January 2015
The Thunderstorm has now been re-worked to become my new novella, STARCROSSED. It’s been expanded, from 5000 words to almost 20,000, and is being published by WDA Publishing. It has some new characters and a new premise, as well as the new name. If you’d like to know more, please check out the STARCROSSED page on this website, or you can find STARCROSSED on Amazon 🙂

 

Is This Thing On?

Testing, testing…1, 2, 3…

If you’re reading this, it means my blog is working.

It also means my husband has set it up for me because it turns out that the WordPress manual and I don’t see eye-to-eye.  But that’s nothing new.   I’m not one to embrace technology.  No, technology and I have more of a nodding acquaintance.  We’re like the co-workers from different floors who see each other occasionally in the lunchroom.  Or the lift.  Sometimes we might pass in the foyer.  But over the past year technology and I have been thrown together more and more.  Our desks are in the same department now.  We share a water cooler.  And this week it seems we’ve been paired up at the team building event to participate in an awkward “getting to know you” exercise.  We’ll be dancing together at the Christmas party next.  Who knows where this could lead???  Taking photos of each other as we photocopy our bums in the print room?

There is one piece of technology that I have embraced wholeheartedly, and it’s the special effects feature on my camera phone.   I’ve been having a ridiculous amount of fun with it, and thought I’d post some picture teasers from my books.  Little clues and hints as to what happens in Over the Edge and The Thunderstorm

Which brings me to the reason for this website.  The books.  Since childhood my goal was to be a published author, so this past year of book deals, writing and editing, creating websites and blogs, has been exciting and thrilling and terrifying, all at once.  Kind of like that first loop on a rollercoaster.  I hope you’ll join me for the next loop 🙂

So, here’s the first picture teaser.  A visual snippet from Over the Edge.  I’d love to know what you think.