Saturday, 26 August 2017

64. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Mixed news, dear readers. At the time of posting, I haven’t heard if my novella submission was successful. I’m working on the ‘no news is good news’ theory, but I’m not holding my breath. No luck with the short story competition this time around, but considering there were over eight hundred entries, I did all right. :)

I also received my feedback from the other competition I entered, but I’m yet to receive placement results. It was a staggered entry; therefore, they’re still marking entries before they make their final announcement. This is one competition I’d recommend to other aspiring writers. Ink and Insights offer a brilliant opportunity to obtain professional feedback on a portion of your manuscript. Four reviewers critique and provide commentary on your entry. They state what does and doesn’t work, and what they thought could be strengthened in your excerpt. It's a brilliant way to gain varying perspectives of your story so you can work on your weaknesses and progress with your strengths. The top three entries then have their work reviewed by agents, who could then offer the lucky recipients the opportunity to submit their complete manuscript, and then, possible publication. :)

I found it interesting how different opinions could be so varied on a scene, yet in others, all four judges agreed. The latter gave me some much-needed guidance in ways I could improve my story. As for the former, I could see both sides of the comments, and I can adjust it accordingly. The best part was reading all four judges believed I had an original concept on my hands and they were interested to know more. I admit I was surprised they loved a character who wasn’t an integral part of the story (to me), but obviously resonated with them. And they picked up a couple of things I missed too. :/

So, while I’ve received some fantastic feedback, and scored better than I’d hoped, I still don’t know how I went overall. Again, I do recommend giving this annual feedback competition your consideration. My comments were insightful, thoughtful, and will only make my story stronger. Who’d want to miss an opportunity like that?

Ink and Insights -

Book Reviews

Lucky me, I beta -read Ms Nolan’s latest novel in her Reaper series. Of course, that means I can’t share my thoughts yet, but I know her readers will love the latest predicament for her heroine. Meanwhile, you can read my reviews of her previous Reaper stories here.

I am allowed, however, to share Ms Jenny Schwartz’s latest release. :)

Desert Devil (Old School Book 5)

Donna Keats is a seer. But when she defies fate to save her estranged foster brother she becomes fate’s victim.

As one of only three couriers alive, Forrest “Rest” Castillo can travel anywhere on Earth in seconds. However, the price of his rare talent is to be forever alone. Anyone who gets close to him becomes a potential hostage for the powerful people that seek to own him.

Two years ago, Rest retreated to the isolated beauty of the Arizona desert to save those who have his loyalty and love, but it was the wrong strategy. It’s not his life that should be sacrificed for peace. Nor will it be Donna’s.

Rest’s enemies are about to learn that this former Army Ranger is not as alone as they believed, and that no conspiracy can be buried forever.

The time has come for Rest to walk the Path for justice, and Donna will match him step for step.

Rest’s stubborn attitude in leaving his loved ones behind to keep them safe has its merits, but it’s cost him more than he thought possible. For Rest, controlling and manipulating portals, and being able to enter and exit them at will, is a valuable commodity. And to control Rest and his ability, some people are willing to do anything, even kill. When Donna, the woman he’s loved since they were teens, tracks him down with an urgent warning, he knows he’s about to break two hearts all over again. When her horrifying vision comes true days later, and he barely survives, he knows she’s in more danger than before. Only this time, the safest place for her is right by his side.

Donna’s heart broke when Rest abandoned her two years ago without so much as a goodbye. She told herself she could let him go, but when her secret Seer talent reveals a vision of his imminent death, nothing will stop her from finding him no matter why he left her behind. Thanks to her warning, she may have saved the day, but doing so not only puts their lives in danger, but also the team Rest abandoned too. When someone threatens a member of the team to get to Rest, they realise they need to work together to find the truth, one that’s buried deeper than anyone expects.

I like that there was more to Donna than her ability to have visions, abilities which impressed the jaded and distrusting team Rest once called friends. She exceeded their expectations and proved that while she might not have magical military training, she is an asset to the group. And through rebuilding the friendships he left behind, Rest learned to value not only those relationships, but to understand you don’t abandon those who love you.

Ms Schwartz’s previous series and now this one often mentions a magical way of travelling where guides help magical creatures enter and exit through ‘Portals’. This is just one of the many clever ways she’s joined her stand-alone stories together. Yet again, she’s woven characters from previous stories to propel this tale. And I’m going to have a moment of cleverness that I guessed the characters for a future book. :) I also have a feeling that Rest and Donna are going to make an appearance in that book too, but I’ll have to wait to see if I’m right because she has two more books before she gets to that one. You see why she’s one of my author idols, right? :)


The copyediting job is complete, and I have a happy customer who’s one step closer to publishing her first novel. I’m very excited for her and I hope everyone enjoys her story. I enjoyed the process, and learned more about writing on the way. I also learned more about South Africa as both the writer and parts of the story embrace this culture and the language. I thought Aussies had some interesting sayings – we’re not alone there. J I was impressed though, that the writer explained through her characters what the South African terms meant. I also learned a few Scottish sayings as the story is set in the Scottish Highlands just to add to the intrigue. As I’m of Scottish decent, I enjoyed learning a thing or three. :)

While waiting for news of the competition and submission, I’ve been working on my rewrites, especially the story I sent to Ink and Insights, and on the story a dear writing friend was kind enough to structurally edit for me. Not so sure she felt kindly toward me when she was done – oh dear. But again, I have learned so much, which is exactly what the writing business is all about. I’ve also gained a wonderful critique partner / friend and we’ve been swapping chapters, and strengthening and providing guidance for each other’s stories.

Next month I have a writing conference to attend, so I’ll be meeting some more wonderful Western Australian writers and discovering more tips and tricks about writing. I can’t wait.

Until then, in the vein of I Love Lucy’s Ricky Ricardo, I have some ‘splaining (fixing) to do. :)


  1. D, you're such a supportive friend. Thank you for that wonderful review.

    It sounds like the feedback on your story from Ink & Insights is truly useful, whatever happens. Isn't it surprising to discover which of your characters click with people? We write them, but they go out into the world as their own people :)

    Nearly spring - watch out for the hayfever! I'm resisting the temptation to stockpile tissues ;)

    1. You're welcome, Jenny. :) Thank you for supporting my reading habit. :) LOL

      Yes, very useful. Now I have to incorporate it.

      I was surprised. The character they loved was one I was using to propel the story. I wasn't expecting her to click with anyone, but she did. Another lesson in there, it seems. :)

      Oh dear, I don't want to think about Spring and hayfever, although the latter may have already found us.

  2. Glad you enjoyed your sneak peek at the next Reaper book, and that you are getting good feedback on your writing. Really helps to have different insights into your work. Fingers crossed your overall results are good.

    1. I did, and I'm looking forward to sharing my review too. :)

      And ALL the feedback I receive in ALL forms has made a huge difference, and I'm truly grateful. :)