Category Archives: Writing


Ampersand Prize

Back in September, I entered Grow in the Ampersand Prize, a call for manuscripts by unpublished writers from Hardie Grant Egmont. This is a great opportunity, because winning means publication, which is pretty much every writer’s dream.

They announced the shortlist on Tuesday, and I’m on it!

I’m not normally one for gifs, but I think this deserves one or two. 🙂

At first I was totally cool–who am I kidding? I did a dance around my office. And then the nerves hit and got the shakes. Luckily I had some emergency chocolate to take the edge off.

Check out the full shortlist announcement.

(Too busy to click the link? Here’s the blurb for Grow: When a teenager breaks into his childhood home searching for a connection to his absent dad, he doesn’t expect the new owner to become a father figure – or to fall in love with the man’s niece.)

I’m honoured to be shortlisted, and the other entries sound amazing. I want to read them all.

And it’s a great feeling to have someone say, “Hey, you’ve written a good book.”

It’s going to be a long wait until January, when the winner is announced.


Timeline of a Bruise

Once or twice, in the process of writing, I’ve found myself needing to know what a bruise would look like after a certain amount of time. I’ve managed to google and find some images, but since I recently found myself in possession of a massive bruise, I thought I’d take a photo every day so I can look back on it later.

Average Bruise Basics

When a bruise first happens, it’ll be red because  of all the blood under the skin.
After a day or two, it will turn blurple thanks to the haemoglobin in your blood being starved of oxygen.
After a few days, the haemoglobin breaks down and it’ll take on a greenish appearance.
After ten or so days, it’ll fade to yellow or brown as your body reabsorbs the blood.

That’s the theory, let’s see how it plays out in practise.

Day 0

No photo of when it happened. But man, did it ever-lovin’ hurt. I want to say I injured myself doing something impressively athletic, but in reality I slipped over in the bathroom. (How unimpressive is that? I’m lucky I didn’t break a hip. Or crack my head open on the bath.) And the bathroom had a concrete floor. My left knee took most of the impact (on the kneeling part, not the cap), though my right got a fair wallop too (that bruise isn’t nearly as impressive), and my left arm shot out to break my fall (no bruises to speak of).

Bruise Timeline

(Click for larger version)

Day 1

I thought if there was any serious damage, it would show up today. I can still walk, though my jeans rubbing against my knee hurts, but I think I’ve avoided anything major. The photo’s pretty fuzzy, but you can see Bruise is mostly red and spotty. The smaller bruise higher up on my knee (hereafter referred to as Bruise Jr) is darker. I made the mistake of kneeling on the bed to get something, and owie owie owie!!!

Day 2

Bruise has started to yellow but is still spotty. The centre is still quite red. Bruise Jr is purple-y, with yellow around the edge. It’s still quite sore, and as I tend to sleep in the recovery position, I keep reminding myself it’s there.

Day 3

Bruise Jr is in the top right of the photo (dark purple-y). Bruise is yellowing, but still has the red spot in the centre. I think I really did some damage there and it has gone past something a simple bruise can fix. And the centre itches! I’ve never had a bruise itch before. It’s like a scab healing.

Day 4

The light’s a bit better in this photo. And you can see my cup of hot chocolate in the background. The yellow is more impressive today (though still spotty) and one side has turned green. The centre is still red. Oh, the itching!!! Bruise Jr is a lovely yellow-purple mix.

Day 5

Bruise now has a lovely yellow corona around its red heart. The itching is killing me because it’s too sore to scratch. I accidentally kneed my husband in bed last night and almost made him go sleep on the couch. Bruise Jr is still yellow-purple.

Day 6

Ooo, the different light source gave my skin a completely different tone. More realistic. I am pasty. Bruise is very yellow now with a couple of purple tinges. The red centre is still unchanged, and I’m worried it’s going to cause some sort of uprising. It kind of feels like the skin on my knee isn’t attached to the stuff underneath like it should be, and when I twist my leg, it pulls in a nausea-inducing way. I think Bruise Jr is starting to fade, though it’s still yellow-purple.

Day 7

So, I thought my knee was fine and dandy, but spending an hour walking around the supermarket was a bad idea and I ended up hobbling. Bruise is huge and yellow now, and the centre is still red and itchy and swollen. Bruise Jr is still purple.

Day 8

Still a bit achy. And itchy. I googled bruises. Bad idea. I’ve convinced myself the red centre is deadly. Or my leg’s going to fall off or something.

Day 9

The yellow corona has started to fade. And I think the red centre has started to turn purple. Maybe my leg won’t fall off after all.

Day 10

Yeah, the yellow is definitely fading on both Bruise and Bruise Jr. And it’s less painful. The centre is still itchy but it’s definitely turning purple, which I take as a good sign.

Day 11

The yellow is almost back to normal now. The centre is still itchy and swollen, but I think it’s starting to heal. Sorry about the continually changing light source. Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of your own knee without getting any shadows?

Day 12

Still healing, still fading, still itching. The yellow corona has gone from Bruise. Bruise Jr still has a touch of yellow along with the purple.

Day 13

There’s still definitely a bump in the centre when compared to my other knee, but the red is happily turning purple (not that obvious in the photo, soz) and Bruise Jr is shrinking, though still a touch purple.

Day 14

Okay, I think I’m done. The bulk of Bruise is back to normal, only the centre, that I really damaged, is still healing. It isn’t that itchy any more, but it’s still a decent lump and tender to kneel on (oh, I won’t know myself when I can once again kneel with impunity). Bruise Jr is a bit purple and yellow still, but it looks worse in the photo than it does in real life.

But I think this gives us a good idea of what the life cycle of a bruise is like. In some ways it went through the process faster than the average I laid out at the start, in other ways it took longer. But either way, I have some interesting photos to refer to when one of my characters gets injured. 🙂


Ode to a pen


Pen that died during
the first draft of Submerged

I’ve been writing by hand a lot lately. I find it really good for first drafts, because there’s no going back. I can’t rewrite the same scene over and over (not without giving myself cramp, anyway). I can’t go back and change a character’s name or motivation or emotional state. Sometimes I add a note in the margin, so I know to change it when I type it up. I have no choice but to keep plowing on through that first draft. Because that’s the only way to get it done.

So, I wanted to write a bit of an ode to my ballpoint pen of choice. Oh, pen, how I love thee.

For years I just wrote with whatever I could get hold of. From one extreme (pens that left lumps of ink on the page and my fingertips) to the other (pens that made me write the same letter over and over again, hoping they would eventually leave ink on the page). But no more. I now buy one brand of pen. And they’re my writing pens. They’re not used for grocery lists or birthday cards or signing the kids’ homework books.

I am in love with the Uni Laknock ballpoint from the Mitsubishi Pencil Co. It has a comfy rubber grip and the ink flows smoothly. I like the 1.0mm nib in blue. I can crank out a good 30,000 words without going insane. They’re not super cheap (coming in at around the $4 mark) but so worth it.

I’ve never seen boxes of them, but apparently they do exist and OfficeMax has them, so I might have to check them out. Because I don’t think I’m quitting any time soon.