What happens after you sign a 3 book contract


I’ve just signed a contract with Pelican / Watershed for a 3 book YA series called Spirit Walker. *Pinches arm* I keep checking just to make sure that the contract is real and not one of those so-real-you-can-smell-the-coffee dreams. Each time I look, there it is, all signed and beautiful. It is truly the stuff that I hardly dared dream of way back when I first had the crazy thought that I should try writing books.

So have you ever wondered what an author does after signing something like that? Exotic things involving corks and fine crystal? Nope. Painting the town red, hiding from the hordes of screaming fans? Uh, not quite. I went to my little girls room (that’s her up there on the beach) and finished cleaning up dirty dishes and clothes. There you have it. Exciting stuff, hey? Hehe.

But the fact is, now the truly exciting bit starts. You see, a contract is a beautiful thing because it comes with a deadline. The beauty of a deadline is that it gives me permission to get lost in my head. It gives me permission to  hide away in my room and hunt words. It gives me permission to say no to some things because I seldom have the guts to do that all by myself.

How about you? What is your big dream and what’s stopping you from going for it?





The Stuff Inside

Hello friends,

My eldest turns 17 today! Isn’t that incredible? She can now start learning to drive… now there’s a thought.

In other news, I’m blogging today on International Christian Fiction Authors. I’d be thrilled to my tippy toes if you’d head over and have a look-see.

What have you all been getting up to while I’ve been neck deep in book #3?

Going back, to move forward


So this novel I’m working on is being as stubborn as a donkey neck-deep in peanut butter. I distinctly remember with my other two, being so full of ideas and words at times, that I’d choose writing over a nap. With this one? The naps win. Every time.

Part of the problem is that it’s my first dabble in a fantasy / supernatural genre. World-building is not for sissies, trust me. That aside… it still refused to gell.

Many naps A nap or so later, I’ve realised that I’ve been handling the transitions between the two realms incorrectly. Shifted my thinking and VOILA! It now feels right.

So I’m heading back… rewriting the offending sections. I know that by the time I reach the end of what I’ve written, the words will still be pumping and I can’t wait.

A little bit like life, isn’t it? Sometimes when you feel stuck, the best thing you can do is look back. Maybe it’s a simple apology or putting something right that will oil your wheels and get you going again.

What do you do when you feel stuck? (In life or writing)

Why ?

Everybody, meet my big brother. And yes, this made me tear up.

Wolfworx photography

One of the many things I do – photography related that is- is horse shows / equine shows, call them what you will.


The are wonderfully crazy events which bring large groups of people and horses together to do all kinds of competitive disciplines …

These shows can be anything for 1 to 5 days (commonly), whilst  some of the bigger shows are longer.


From a photographers perspective, they are long, tiring, at times stressful, at times frustrating, and only marginally profitable.

Often people will talk to me, telling me how much they admire my perseverance , or sometimes to ask me why do I do it, or sometimes asking the craziest things that I cannot repeat here :-/

Here is my best reason to stand out in the boiling sun / freezing wind all day , I will call it The Nicola Effect. This is but one example of…

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Where should we go today?

Blogging on HCC Living Letters today…

Lifehack & Peanuts


IMK56266Happy Mommy’s Day to all the mommy’s who may be reading this!

It’s been a week since I became a Lifehack contributor. In that time, I’ve had 3 articles published and I’ve been assigned another that I’m working on. This is good and bad! Writing for them is like eating peanuts… it is very hard to stop.

The thing is, they suggest all these delicious article topics. As you read through them, you think… I could write that. And that. And that… and so on. Accepting an article is a matter of clicking on it and you’re good to go. I have to remind myself that Spirit Walker (my 3rd novel) is my priority. I’m just short of half way through and aiming to finish by end June.

On the other hand, having such a wide built-in readership that Lifehack offers, is a real privilege. So for now, I’m going to juggle them both and see how we go.

If you don’t know what LifeHack is, you can check it out here.

PS – Aren’t these images awesome? They are used with kind permission from WolfWorx.

Lifehack: My first post! Woohoo!

HelloGirlWaiting friends,

How are you all today? It’s voting day here in SA, the weather is fine and my first post is up on Lifehack. You can find it here: 10 Reasons Waiting is Good For You.

If you’re a regular visitor to Doodles, you’ll know that this is a recurring theme in my life – one that I fought for many years, but now have embraced as a good friend. You know the type… they visit sporadically, ask the hard questions, yet leave you better than you were before. Comfortable? No. Good? Yes!

Feel free to share it if you think its a worthwhile read.

Much love, till next time!





Being a Prolific Writer


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The word ‘prolific‘ is one I’d love to be labelled with… Oh look, she’s turned out another bestseller book! What a prolific writer she is…

I’ve aimed at ridiculous wordcounts per day, I’ve pantsed and plotted and settled into a happy combination of both. I’ve changed my sleeping habits, tried NaNoWriMo, read a ton of blogs from writers I love and respect and so on and so on.

The sad, dismal truth fact I’m currently facing, is that if you give me an hour in a day, or a few uninterrupted hours in a day, my output will probably be about the same.

Are you kidding me?
Are you kidding me?

Sadly no kidding here. Maybe that will change, I live in hope.

In the meantime, I’m borrowing a lesson from my middle child’s induction ceremony into High School from the beginning of this year. They start the event with a single torch burning on stage. All the new Grade 8’s lead in in the dark. As you can see from the gallery above, the prefects start by lighting their candles and passing on the flame. The transition from a deeply dark hall to one lit by many individual lights was moving to say the least. The message was clear – your individual contribution counts.

How does that make me a more prolific writer? It doesn’t. But what it does do, is make me value each word that willingly joins the ranks of the little army of words that make up my story. I only need 65 000 of them to show up at the the right time, and I’m done. (Young adult, in case you’re wondering at the low count.) Do I cringe at 500 word days? Nope. Do I cringe at the 23 words I manage to string together before I’m called to go see Barbie perform a death-defying dive from the top of the tap into my 6yo’s bubble bath – AGAIN? Not any more.

All that matters is that I’m adding words. I will not waste energy on beating myself up for not being prolific. Maybe, just maybe… prolificacy (yes, I did just make that up) will creep up on me as I quietly grow my wordcount. Till then, I’ll soldier on, adding each precious word as it shows up.

If you have found any magic formula for upping your daily count, I’d love to hear about it. It probably won’t work on me, but go ahead and share anyway!

I’m grateful to…


In the big scheme of things, getting one book accepted by a publisher does not mean that I’ve arrived as an author. I’m fully aware of that. But it is a milestone worth celebrating and as part of that, I’d love to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me along the way. One of those key people, is a lovely writer that I met online. She beta-read the first chapter of Finding Mia way back when I was still floundering through the early stages and hauled out two big no-no’s that I wasn’t even aware of in my writing – adverbs and passive voice. (How did I not see them before?) I am super grateful to her for the time she took and am delighted that she agreed to be with us on Doodles today. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen… Meet my friend, Jennifer Owenby!

Jennifer Owenby

When you write fiction, is there a strong message in your gut that you want your reader to come away with? Or does this vary with each story?

Each story is different, but I tend to bring attention to difficult real life issues, the one’s that stay behind closed doors and no one talks about. “Tears in the Sun” is about mental illness, I have one traditionally published story concerning a woman running and hiding from an abusive husband and my story in progress deals with physical abuse in high school.

I love hearing about life defining moments, especially to do with understanding that you are a writer. Did you always know, or did it dawn on you? Tell us about one of your life defining moments.

I’ve “written” since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. When I was 6 my family moved from St. Louis Missouri to the country in Arkansas. We had no neighbour’s only cows in the back yard. I was lonely. The days that we would have thunderstorms I’d pull my little rocking chair up to the window, listen to the rain and make up stories.  To this day, I write when it rains. That’s why I love living in Oregon. So, I don’t think there was a defining moment, I think moments defined me and nurtured what was already there.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

My inspiration comes from life and people that have crossed my path.

Are you comfortable weaving portions of your own life & experience into your work, or are there some things that you keep to yourself?Tears in the Sun

Yes, I am. I read somewhere that in every piece of fiction there are nuggets of truth. I’ve had many questions concerning “Tears in the Sun”, and regardless of where that nugget is, people suffer from mental illness everyday and loved ones have to make horribly difficult and painful decisions.

If you look back over your writing career, is there anything that you would change or do differently if you could go back?

Yes, I would have worked with an editor/teacher sooner. I wrote my first full length novel and gave it to and editor. I thought it was great, my writing group had helped me and I just knew it would have record sales. She gave it back to me and said “You’re not ready. I can tell you didn’t outline…” that feedback hurt, but what she did was offer me another route where she could teach me in intense bursts before I tackled a novel again. I took her short story class and wrote “Tears In the Sun”. By the time I completed the class the story was written and fully edited by an editor at Writer’s Digest. “Tears in the Sun” was also the last story I worked on with my editor. She passed away a little over year ago. So the story is special to me on several levels.

Give us the one piece of advice that you would want every newbie writer to know…

Ah shucks, I can’t give just one.

As a writer I see each scene in my head. I’m there, living and breathing every moment of it. In fact, I’m so deep in it I can’t see what needs to be fixed. So, here are a few things I highly recommend whether you are self publishing or traditional publishing:

  • Writing can be learned so study the craft. It’s not all about talent. Get your hands on books, articles and attend any conference you can.
  • Don’t publish any work unless you’ve worked with an editor. Don’t short sell yourself by not putting your best work out there. There’s many forms of editing not just grammer, it’s also voice, character arc, plot points, turning points and more.
  • And, here’s the hardest part, when an editor gives you changes and feedback, LISTEN. So many people disregard an editor’s advice even when the editor has been in the industry for years. Even Stephen King has an editor.  The beautiful thing about writing, you never stop learning. Be true to yourself and even though the feedback might hurt, embrace it and grow!

 There are two distinctly different sides to you as a writer. Tell us more about your resume service?

Dianne, you’re the best. Thanks for allowing me to share about this as well.

I, as most writers do, need income. Our dream is to write stories full time and strike it big like J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. We all see our stories showing on the movie screen. But, then hard reality sits in.

I have a background in writing, I’ve been traditionally published and “Tears in the Sun” was my first go around at self publishing, but I needed income. I also have a background in staffing and recruiting. My second love is helping people find jobs. So, I combined the two. Resumes are a form of writing and creativity. I talk and work with people for a few hours, and then I create and form them on paper. It’s not easy. In fact the ongoing education and certifications are extensive. I have found that it’s truly helping me write tighter with fewer words in my fiction as well. It’s a great character development tool as well.  As a professional resume writer, I combine both passions.

Thank you Jen, for letting us into your head and heart, and for the nuggets of valuable info.

Jennifer Owenby can also be found on Twitter and WordPress.



Cover Reveal … Finding Mia

I clearly remember meeting my Hayley for the first time. Labor took 4,5 hours (short compared to most), a few pushes and some tugging. Then they handed me this squishy bundle of wrinkled skin – pale, blueish and not too charmed at facing the big world. I was smitten. To me, there’d never been anything more beautiful than this shivery miniature person in my arms and I couldn’t wait to show her off to anyone who cared to spare a moment. The other two arrived slightly differently, but the feeling was the same. An overwhelming love unlike anything I’d felt before. Fast forward 16 years and look how they’ve grown… From the left Carmen (my niece – well done Barbs!) and my Bronwyn (6), Hayley (nearly 16) and Nikita (13).

My girls

Many writers use the whole pregnancy/baby/birth analogy to describe the process of getting a book out. I don’t think of my books as my babies, but I do love them and opening the Final Cover Art email from my publisher was nothing short of terrifying. What if it misrepresented my story? Or the designer picked all the colors I detest? Don’t forget, I’m a writer. I live in a world of worst case scenarios.

I took a deep breath, double-clicked and found this:



Wow, what a moment. I love it! From the slip-slops (they put in the slip-slops!) to the way the beach sand trails off into the distance, the color of the water offset against the sky and most of all the little girl in her too-big shades – just like my girls used to.

I am smitten and I can’t wait to show it off. Thank you for having a moment with me!


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