Monday, March 25, 2013

New Website New Blog

It's been a while since I've posted but I'm back blogging and have a new website and blog. Please head over to www.daniellebirch.com and look around. And please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reading

Just hearing the word “reading” makes my heart beat a little faster. The anticipation of a new book, the cover, the blurb, the first sentence, the opening scene, shocking revelations and discoveries, the ending, then wishing I hadn’t already read it so that I could discover it again.

One of the reasons I can’t wait for my upcoming holidays (aside from my love of all things Christmas) is the reading time. I’m hoping to get at least four books read over the two week break (I’m not being too ambitious here so anything above four books will be a bonus).

I’ve listed below the books that recently arrived on my doorstep (or electronically), some of which will jump the towering “to be read” queue and become Christmas/New Year reading—which includes some recently plugged friends’ books :)


























And waiting to receive:


Okay, so I’ve already read a couple (while I was supposed to be editing), and will try not to read any more before I go on holidays—I’ve put myself on strict book ban and am resolved to doing nothing but editing until December 22.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Sparks & a Plug (or two)

We were driving back from the coast yesterday when out of nowhere a little detail of a scene I’ve been working on in my novel came to me—just a flash of a piece of clothing in a scene and it went on from there and became fully formed in my head. It was something that hadn’t occurred to me but is actually very important to the scene (this has been happening a lot lately and is a part of the editing process that I really love). This detail has also led to a change in the next scene which will make that scene stronger as well. I hadn’t taken a notebook with me (shock horror!) and was madly scrambling around my partner’s car for a piece of paper and a pen that was luckily in the glove box. I don’t know about everyone else but sometimes I’ll have great ideas usually when I don’t have the means to write them down. Then I think surely I’ll remember them later because they’re so great, right. Right? No.

I had a great idea last week while I was driving home from work but do you think I could remember it by the time I got home? I still can’t remember it. I really need to take advantage of the voice recorder that will surely be in my mobile phone (just need to work out where it is in my fancy new phone).

Is there also anyone else out there who has ideas at night after they’ve turned out the lights, in those minutes (or longer) before they go to sleep? The lamp on my bedside table often gets flicked on and off several times as I reach for my notebook and jot down the basics of the idea (it’s best not to write in the dark—it makes for difficult deciphering the next day). I’ve fooled myself in the past that I’ll remember it in the morning and there’s no need to get up and write it down. Not anymore.

I have yesterday’s notes with me at work today and I’m going to work on the chapter in my lunch break and give it a good polishing.

Oh, and yesterday I also managed to squeeze in a little reading time :)

I’m going to give another plug to two books I recently purchased by blogger friends:

I’m reading Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne at the moment, and I really wish life didn’t get in the way and make me have to put it down. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I really hope everything works out for them in the end.

Next to read will be Barbed Wire Hearts by Cate Gardner. The premise sounds fabulous and with Cate’s books you know you’re in for a hell of a ride.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Publication Banquet

First, I have to share some more fantastic news!

I’ve sold another story!

The Baited Psychopath will appear in the anthology “Whacked! An Anthology of Murder” with Rainstorm Press on a date yet to be advised. This is my second acceptance for the month, after a bit of a dry run, so I am happy dancing in a mad fashion.

Now, I want to share with you an upcoming publication by my friend and fellow Belle (my critique group is called Hells Belles) E E Montgomery. The release date is 23 November 2011 and the story, Between Love and Honor is a truly stunning and heartbreaking read. You won’t be disappointed with this tale of two men who struggle with forbidden love. You can check it out at Dreamspinner Press.

I also want to share with you a new publication by my blogger friend, Aaron Polson. In the Memory House is available to purchase from – Amazon, Amazon UK or Smashwords.

And last, but not least, another blogger buddy, KV Taylor, has a book coming out in the next few days. Scripped will be available for purchase from Smashwords or you can buy a hard copy from Bellfire Press.

Check out these three supremely talented people whose stories will blow your mind. I have my copies pre-ordered/organised and am looking forward to some seriously great reading.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Monday Like All Others

Some days at work my sense of humour disappears completely by around 11.00 am. It usually returns in my lunch break and then it invariably leaves again around 3.00 pm. It thankfully makes a return on the journey home.

I’ve learned to try and combat it now by thinking about the novel I’m working on. Instead of stewing on things I can’t change (i.e., annoying clients, irrational clients, abusive clients, and so on, and so on) I’ve recognised the slide into hostile territory and now take a step back and instead picture a scene in my novel. I am there with Ivy and her sisters and take a step through the house, through the gardens, imagine I am up the falls where Ivy’s sister was attacked. I listen for the sound of the water crashing into the pool at the base of the mountain—a scene of such beauty where a horrific act has been committed; I hear the birds in the trees of the woefully neglected gardens where broken stone angels dwell; I listen to the chilling silence inside their tomblike family home. I love the atmosphere I've created and I love inhabiting their world, walking alongside them and discovering more and more about their personalities each time I do.

I received two rejections this morning. That really kick started my day into hell, but I’ve bounced back, and one of the pieces rejected, a poem (incidentally, this is the first poem I’ve ever written and was inspired by my recently published flash fiction story, Alone) that I've just resubmitted elsewhere, so I fingers crossed it will see publication in the not too distant future.

And now, despite the sirens going past outside—a regular occurrence—and the car alarm that has been screeching for about ten minutes now, I’m going back to Indigo, to the family home where Ivy continues searching to try and uncover a dark family secret.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Dreams

I love dreams. I love waking up in the morning and remembering what I dreamt about, although sometimes I can’t remember, so I’m not sure whether I just don’t dream on those occasions or for some reason my memory refuses to provide me with the data.

The ones I remember though are a mixture of delight and frustration. First of all, any dream I can use in a story is great. These dreams are the best because they provide ideas thought up while I was sleeping—nothing like being able to do two things at once—and I love recording the oddities (because these dreams are rarely normal) and keeping the notes for future stories.

Some dreams are the ones where I’m lost or trapped in situations with people where I just don’t want to be. These are the frustrating dreams that leave me annoyed when I wake and of course stick with me longer than the others. I don’t use them in stories because they’re often unhappy memories or maybe just some of my deepest fears that I don’t care to visit through stories.

Then there are the amusing dreams where I start out with one person in a location and when I move to the next location, which has nothing at all to do with the first location, I’m with a different person—although there is never any explanation for the change in people or locations. These are, as I said, amusing dreams. Sometimes I know the places, sometimes I don’t.

The other night I dreamt I was walking home after having coffee with a friend. I had no shoes on and was really annoyed because I had to walk a long way and the road was covered with broken glass and debris and I had to walk slowly in order not to step in anything. I knew the way, had travelled it many times before, however, all of a sudden I turned a corner and there was my childhood home, looming in front of me, although not the home I had first thought I was headed to. Somehow I had fast forwarded through the walk without any effort or memory of it at all. An amusing dream.

Then there are the freaky dreams where I revisit an old dream. I once dreamt about a white house on the side of a river where a family of ghosts from my past lived. They had cool rope swings hanging over the river and a pool behind the house filled with Coca Cola. The only problem was that the sun never came out and I was constantly running into things because of the lack of light and the inability to find torches, candles or light switches. I’ve revisited this place in my dreams twice more over the years and both times I’ve woken, extremely excited that I’d actually returned to a fictional place in my dream.

Finally, there is the best dream I’ve had to date in relation to writing, and one which I think I’ve spoken about recently in a different blog post...I woke up one morning with the fully formed opening scene to the novel I’m currently working on. I was happy with the opening scene I’d already written, but this scene, which I decided to add as a prologue, was a huge part of something that I hadn’t yet realised—something that hugely affected a different tragedy that had befallen the sisters. That morning I wrote the prologue with the dream still fresh in my head as the dawning horror of what Ivy and her sisters had done became real on paper.

As I said, I love dreams. And as I write this, I know there are people out there who have far freakier dreams than I do. So if you feel like sharing...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November & a Sale!

I was going to blog about what I did in October (editing, some reading, a road trip, a wedding (not mine—that is next year) birthday parties and some new ideas for short stories that I have noted down in my trusty notebook) and then yesterday I received some most excellent news—my short story The Broken Juggler will be published with The Red Penny Papers next year. I love this tale of weird and oddly tall sisters and I wrote it especially for The Red Penny Papers so I’m really excited that it’s been accepted.

Aside from happy dancing around the room (my happy dance is akin to a zombie doing the Hustle after drinking several litres of Red Bull, because I have absolutely no coordination) I’ll be spending November editing, and actually enjoying it—it’s taking a hell of a lot longer than I’d planned when I set my goals for the year, but I’ve accepted that and I’m working at a slow but steady pace.

Lastly, I’d like to point you to The Red Penny Papers to read the first instalment of The Sons of Chaos and the Desert Dead by Aaron Polson. It’s an intensely disturbing read and I’m sure that when you’ve finished you be waiting impatiently for the next instalment, just as I am.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October & a New Release!

September was quite a productive month in that I managed not only to get some decent editing done, I also submitted another short story, received two rejections (I still have two others short listed so fingers crossed there), read six books, wrote a rough draft for a new short story and also wrote a draft for the Black Book (the book I’ve spoken about in other posts that is sort of a round robin writing project with my writer’s group).

Today is my last day at work before I start two weeks annual leave which I am so looking forward to—except that I have to visit the dentist tomorrow. The first day of my holidays—what was I thinking? I know it will go fast (the annual leave, not the trip to the dentist—that will be torturously slow) and I know I won’t get half as much done as I’ve got planned, but I’ll try to cram in as much as I can.

I have some good news to share too—my flash fiction story Alone has been released with Twisted Dreams Magazine. I love this piece, not only because the character I created intrigues me so much I want to write a novel length story about her, but because she inspired the first poem I’ve ever written—Grotesque which is currently submitted and awaiting an answer. Freddie is one of the most complex characters I’ve created but she leads the most simplistic life that I just want to throw something really horrific in her path to shake her up. Just need more time to write...

Getting on to some of the books I read last month—Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall, filled with wonderful bizarreness and sorrow, KV Taylor’s Tales from Liberty Tree, two beautifully crafted stories, and Cassidy Hunter’s First Night, an “against all odds” story with some very dark twists and turns. I’m currently working my way through The Ottoman Motel by a local author, Christopher Currie, and I’m absolutely loving it.

My plan for October—in keeping with my main writing goal for the year—is to have Misfortune (Ivy’s story) ready to send off to an agent by the end of the year. I am behind in this goal—so many distractions for this person with a short attention span—but I’m working towards it regardless. I have my list of agents ready and I’ll update that closer to the time.

Happy October all and enjoy the first month of spring or autumn, whichever hemisphere you’re in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bob Dylan Tuesday or: How Music Inspires My Writing

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged and even longer since Bob Dylan Tuesday. I have no excuse other than life getting in the way and allowing myself to get off track. I have been editing though so all was not lost and I have been making notes for the short stories that keeping popping into my head every so often. One that came to me the other day was because of today’s song.

I have The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix in my playlist for the novel I’m currently editing (Misfortune). There is a scene out on the lake (Lake Superstition) where Ivy relives a traumatic moment from her past and this song is just so hauntingly perfect, especially the last lines:

Will the wind ever remember

The names it has blown in the past

And with his crutch, it’s old age, and it's wisdom

It whispers no, this will be the last

And the wind cries Mary

I play it over and over while I picture Ivy and Noah sitting in a skiff and she is shivering under the overcast sky as she tries to overcome her fear of the lake where her mother drowned when Ivy was only a child.

Then last week I was listening to it on my MP3 while I was driving to work and the threads of another short story came to me. A girl drowns in Lake Superstition (years after Ivy’s mother) and her ghost rises to try and guide her younger sister through the dangerous path that her life has taken. I’ll put it aside for now and continue with the editing but I know it will eat away at me and I’ll keep making small notes until eventually a first draft will form and I won’t be able to resist anymore and will start working on it. Ah, the undisciplined mind.

In the meantime, I’m editing. Oh, and planning a road trip.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September

If the last few days are anything to go on, September is going to be one hell of a crazy month—seeing as how it’s the 7th already and I’m only just now posting the blog I usually do on the 1st day of the month. I’ve been sick, I’ve been reading, I’ve been writing thank you notes, I’ve been to birthday parties, I’ve been planning our trip north next month and I’ve been editing.

But first, I’ll talk about August. Ahh, August, the final month of winter...how I will miss thee. Some new characters were given life, in particular a crone called Madame Dragonfly. She was inspired by some of the images I saw at the Surrealism Exhibit we went to see at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane and I’m itching to do something with her but have only the very loose threads of a story so far. All I know is that she is evil where she was once good and somehow she’s come to be the guardian of two small children.

I also submitted 2 shorties stories—making it a total of 6 stories out in submission land. I received 2 rejections and have been shortlisted for 2 so I think that’s not too shabby a result so far and have fingers crossed for good news for both.

I made a small amount of progress on the novel although not as much as I’d have liked, but September is for editing and I won’t be working on any short stories at all—I mean it! I’m still more excited about this story (Ivy’s story) than anything else I’ve ever worked on (including Tallulah Todd and Mia Millington, who are two of my favourite characters) and I’m enjoying the layering of the story and the new little things I keep discovering about Ivy and her sisters that thickens the plot and hopefully will make for a darker and more thrilling and enjoyable read.

So that’s it for now, much editing in this crazy busy first month of spring.

Happy September everyone.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Mail Is In

I love getting mail and even better, I love getting books in the mail. It brightens my day and gives me dreams of buying more bookshelves, or having an entire wall of floor to ceiling shelving that I've always dreamed of :)

This morning I was treated to Nowhere Hall by Cate Gardner and Tales from Liberty Tree by KV Taylor and I can’t wait to read them both. They are by writer friends who are both so talented that it will be a joy to get between the pages and enter the worlds they have created.

I also just bought Cassidy Hunter’s new ebook, First Night, and am looking forward to reading it too as my dear friend Ms Hunter never disappoints. Other to be read books have been moved a little further down the pile so that I can get stuck into these new delights.

I haven’t done as much editing as I’d have liked this past week though my characters have very much been on my mind and I've been enjoying thinking about them even though I haven't been working with them on paper much. I seem to have coming down with some sort of bug at the moment and we also had our engagement party last weekend which was a huge success and much fun was had catching up with family and friends. I created a slideshow of our lives from when we were born to when we met which came together really well and gave everyone a few laughs with some of our dodgy hairstyles and clothes from back in the 80’s.

September arrives tomorrow though and with it comes spring. I will miss winter terribly but I’m excited to be getting back into the editing and have much planned for the month writing wise—as well as slotting in some good reading time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Old Favourites

I suspect that one of the reasons my “to be read” pile will never decrease (aside from the fact that I keep buying books, despite regularly putting myself on a book ban) is that I also add books I’ve already read to the “to be read” pile.

Does anyone else do this?

I’ll be reading a new book and get to thinking about a book I’ve already read and loved and think, gee, I haven’t read that for a while, I really loved that book. Then I’ll go and dig it out and add it to the pile. So far this year I’ve done it with Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Shining and several Patricia Highsmith novels. Why? Because I love them, and I love revisiting a favourite story. It’s like catching up with old friends again—although some of the characters are a tad shady so I don’t know if I’d call them “friends”.

So, my “to be read” pile doesn’t necessarily hold “new” books. It holds “golden oldies” that sometimes take precedence over new books that although I can’t wait to read them too, I just experience a sudden desire to visit with old friends. At the moment I’m reading This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith. I think I read it for the first time about ten years ago after I’d devoured the Ripley novels and Strangers on a Train and then began to work my way through the rest of Highsmith’s novels—reading her books is akin to taking a wonderful and dark journey through some dangerous minds.

Tell me some of your old favourites that you love to revisit from time to time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Murder House: Shades of an Interior

I just realised I still hadn’t posted part 2 of The Murder House. The house is long gone now and the land has been subdivided and is currently for sale as part of a new estate. I still picture the Murder House every morning when I walk past though. I imagine the long grass around the house, dancing in the wind, an air of desertion about the place. I imagine who might have originally lived there and what happened to them. I think about who came after them and why they left. And I think about the last people to live there, because they made the place what it was before it was pulled down. And it had been badly neglected.

These photos were taken the first day after the demolition crew moved in and began pulling the house down. We hadn’t been able to get in before as the house was locked so by the time we had access some of the walls had already been removed, but the creepiness remained...

One of the things we did notice was that a false ceiling had been added at some stage. In the living area above us was the beautiful nine foot ceiling someone, for whatever reason (I’m thinking that maybe it was to stash ill-gotten gains) had installed. In some of the photos you can see the false ceiling and in the sixth photo if you look at the top right hand side of the photo you can see where some of the ceiling has been pulled away and above that is the original ceiling. I thought I had taken a photo of it but I can’t seem to find it.

The Murder House might be gone, but it remains in my memory and in photographs. Every time I think about the house, every time I walk past it, I get to wondering about the story I will set there. No doubt one of many to come.





















Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August

August is a busy month, both for writing and life in general. But first I will talk about July. Last month, for me, was an exciting month because I discovered some great plot threads in the novel I’m editing which have really inspired me to keep working to the end when I was finding myself falling into a bit of a slump—you might recognise the feeling of alternating between loving and despising the manuscript and wondering why the hell you’re even bothering—but now I’m charging towards the end (well, there’s still a little way to go) but I see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s a good thing.

So, short stories submitted last month: 2.

One of them has been shortlisted so fingers crossed.

This month I’ve already submitted the 2 stories I’d planned to send off so that makes my current submissions a grant total of 7. This could possibly be a record for me :)

This month I am now free to concentrate on editing and working through the complicated lives of Ivy and her sisters. I’m also trying to catch up on my reading and attempt to make just a little dent in my growing pile of “to be read” books.

My partner and I also have our engagement party and our one year anniversary coming up in the next few weeks and I’m very much looking forward to both. We’re going away for a few nights for our anniversary up into the mountains north of the city (to a spot very near where I have set some of my stories) so I’m sure I’ll find more inspiration for future stories in those mountains and winding roads.