I’m going on an Adventure!

You know that delicious anticipation you feel on the eve of something thrilling?

Perhaps the night before Christmas when you were a child (or still even now!), the day before a big party, or the excitement of a new book?

I’m in that space now. I’m going on an Adventure!

Where? To beautiful Victoria, Australia. I’m a Queenslander, and next week my amazing husband has planned a road trip to take in some amazing places. Just google the Great Ocean Road, Gippsland, and the Snowy Mountains and you’ll get the idea.

We leave within only a few days, and the anticipation and thrill are steadily building.

Why am I sharing all this? A few reasons.

First, I think travel fuels my imagination, it fills my creative wells. Knowing I’m about to embark on a little adventure to places I’ve never been sparks excitement, knowing I’ll see thing I never have before. New environments, new locations, new scenery…

Several locations in Seregn are, at least in some way, inspired by places I travelled to in New Zealand way back in 2016 as I was planning and writing my first draft.

I took this photo at the gardens just outside the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It inspired the location of a scene in Seregn.

As I begin to really think about my next story, having new places in my head just expands the visual library I have to help springboard ideas and places and images in my imagination.

Second, it’s just plain exciting. Who wouldn’t be excited? It’ll be my first time doing as much driving as we will be doing (it’ll take two days to get to our first main destination), which makes it feel like a little bit of a challenge – a little quest, if you will. I’ll also have to be ok with being cold (eek!). The experience itself will be so precious, and while nowhere near as uncomfortable as the journey of my characters in Seregn, I think it can only help me understand it a bit more.

Third, it means I’ll have some exciting content. Don’t get me wrong, this point pales in comparison to the sheer joy of going on holidays with my husband, but it is also an awesome opportunity to get some amazing photos, videos, and content to share with you. I’ve even thought, with all the places we’re going, I may be able to use the videos I get to put together Seregn’s book trailer! But, we will wait and see.

Fourth, Seregn will be ready when I return. When we get back it’ll be the first couple of days of August, which is also when the copy edit of Seregn is due. What perfect timing right?! I can go away and just enjoy my holiday, without feeling the call of going over the next set of edits. But, I can also return home in the perfect time to receive them. I’m so keen to see what this stage will hold, and it’s so perfectly timed. When I return I’ll also be getting involved in the cover design process, and a few other bits and pieces as it all starts coming together. I’m so excited!

So, overall, I’m going on holidays (hooray!), I’m super excited (yay!), and stay tuned for more!

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Life update and a Seregn sneak peek!

Well, it’s been a little while!

The past couple of weeks have been busy – catching up with family, friends, trying to prevent the house falling into too much disarray, celebrating my husband’s birthday, six months of marriage, and (in the next few days) two years since we started dating.

I’ve also been fairly anxious – which is nothing new for me. Personally, I think it kinda likes to jump around, always lurking in the background, waiting for the next thing to jump on and latch it’s claws into. Dealing with it is certainly a process, one I’m still working out.

Meanwhile, Seregn is still with my copy editor, and will be for at least another week or two, though I should have it back by the end of the month.

In the midst of all this, I’ve been quite tired, had some late nights, and haven’t had the time, energy, or capacity to be creative. Yet Seregn still progresses!

This week I confirmed with my publishing coordinator that I was ready to progress to the next stage in the process of publishing my book – registering the title, arranging the book formatting, and beginning the cover design process.

How exciting!

To celebrate this next step, I thought it was about time to share a sneak peek of Seregn!

At the very beginning of Seregn, I include a poem – Matteo’s Lullaby. Matteo is one of the main characters in Seregn, and this lullaby is a piece of his homeland he carries with him, which has some pretty important symbolism for the story. It’s the one piece of poetry I include in the novel, which currently stands at about 163,000 words.

You can watch below!

What do you think?

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Thinking up story ideas

It’s been nice in a way, waiting patiently for the next round of Seregn edits this past week. I’ve had the space to be creative again, and start coming up with a new story.

But, how to do it?

There are so many ways to hunt down or pull out a story idea. So many different ways to write or plan a book. But how to get started?! Here are my tips!

Try short stories

One thing I want to experiment with is short stories. They’re an opportunity to get my head out of my main story and mindset, and allow myself to experiment with other genres and modes of storytelling. Short story writing is a way to hone your craft without working on a full length novel, and in doing so you may even discover cool settings or awesome characters for your book. There are plenty of different types of writing prompts online, so if you’re struggling to think of ideas jump on Google, search for writing prompts,, and pick something that pops up to springboard your creativity. This is great too if you know you want to write but might not *feel* that creative, and are struggling to figure out what to write.

Ask about your characters

Characters. I’ve had a few in my head for a while now. But when I say ‘characters’ what I really mean, is ‘vague ideas for characters’. Images of them in my head. So, I’ve started writing them down, getting them out on paper, describing them, and then asking ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’.

For example, ‘why is that character a lonely wanderer?’ and ‘what if it was because …’. If course you don’t have to go with the first idea that pops into your mind, but this kind of thinking can be helpful to open up creativity and delve deeper into why characters are the way they are.

More examples: Why does the character carry a scarlet knife? Are they a knight, a prince, an assassin, a famous chef… and why would each of those people have it? This ties into my next point.

Chilling in my armchair writing away!

Think about theme

While I’m pondering a future story, I’m thinking about what I want the story to mean. What are the key themes of the book? For Seregn, two of the big ones are ‘love is as strong as death’, and ‘there’s no greater love than laying down one’s life for one’s friends’. These statements helped me to frame my novel, to highlight these themes at critical moments.

When you get started you might not have a strong idea of theme – and that’s ok. Think about what matters to you, or what intrigues or interests you – compassion? Love? Why some people seek vengeance and others move on? What do you want your writing to be about? Once you know that, it can be used to help give your characters motivations.

Want to write about overcoming wrong – have a character who was wrongfully accused trying to get out of prison. Have a counterpoint character in the book that perhaps deserves accusation but walks free. Perhaps have another minor character be charged for something small but which has a big impact.

The last point comes into play here – is that assassin with the scarlet knife after something? Or are they after revenge? Will they succeed? What will that say to the reader?

Where is the story set?

As I consider my next story, the theme, the characters, I’m also thinking of the world I’ve built. I want this story to be set in the same world as Seregn, but taking place, at least mostly, in another geographic area, and another time in history. This means I’m partly bound by the maps I’ve already laid out, but also means there’s a lot of room for creativity. As I’m planning, I’m thinking about the cultures I’ve created, and how to enrich them and the history to make the world feel real and genuine.

This is a bit different for something like contemporary fiction, but deciding where the story is set (e.g. are two friends having a hushed conversation in a little cafe, or curled on the couch at their home?) is just as important. Settings speak volumes – a conversation in a cemetery is completely different to a conversation in your boss’ office. Even which country and state and city is the story set in (and why) can contribute to the feel of the story.

What’s the ending of the story?

For me, I need to know the end of the story before I write it.

I’m not talking about short stories (those I can deal with if I have to), but what I really mean is a full length novel. You see, I’m a planner, and I need to know where my story ends to know where it should begin, and what should happen on the way.

For this next book (or books) I’m still in the midst of working on what the conflict will be *exactly*, as I develop characters, their flaws, their strengths, the themes. But knowing where I might want these characters to end up can help me work backwards to find the character arc and the conflict – the things or people my characters need to overcome, or navigate, or learn, to grow and eventually emerge victorious. Conflict should really tie into all the other points too – what your character wants, what their goals are, what the theme is. it’s all interlinked.

So, what’s your process? What do you do to start coming upwith a new idea?

On of the most helpful resources I can recommend in this story building area is The Twelve Key Pillars of Novel Construction by C.S. Lakin.

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