Book Giveaway!! – Kate Morton “The Secret Keeper”


In a bucolic English summer at the end of the 1960s, a young girl witnesses a shocking crime. Fifty years later, she sets out to find out the truth, uncovering layers of mystery and deception. Moving from London during the Blitz to the present day, this is classic Kate Morton: a compulsively-readable, entrancing mystery with a long held secret to be uncovered at its heart.

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.
2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Doesn’t it sound fascinating!!

The Secret Keeper is published by Allen & Unwin and is due for release in Australia and New Zealand in November, but is already available in the UK and US.

And click the link below to see Kate Morton’s take on finishing The Secret Keeper!


For a chance to win one of 4 copies of this brilliant book, be sure to comment on my blog over the coming weeks.  During the next month I’ll be sharing my experiences as I take part in my 5th Nanowrimo, (my 7th if you count Camp Nano!!), novelling alongside my son who is taking part in the Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program. I’ll be giving away 1 book each week to a random commenter from that week. So come say hello, and tell me all about your own writing and/or reading experiences.


Camp Nano! 4 days in

I love Camping. The fire, the fresh air, the lack of stuff separating me from the natural world. There’s a freedom to it, I think. Though I don’t think I could live that way permanently – through storms and rains and wind. No electricity – no laptop – no internet.

Camp Nano is the next best thing. It’s imagining that I’m away at camp – breathing the fresh air, smelling the bush smells, enjoying the freedom. While being safely ensconced in my home – by the warmth of the fire, with the convenience of the internet, and Word. I type fast – I’ve been gradually increasing my speed over the years of doing Nano, and I can churn out 2500 words in half an hour – if I’m on a roll. I haven’t so far this Camp Nano, but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end. If I had to write on paper I dread to think how long it would take me, though I’m thinking of challenging myself to the task next Camp Nano (next year). For now I want to focus on typing my story.

I’ve done well so far. I have a personal goal for August Nano of 60,000 words, 2000 per day, and I’ve reached it so far. Yay! What’s better is I exceeded it this morning: 4340 words. And more in me – I want to reach 5000 today, it’s only 660 words to go, I’m sure I could do it. But the housework is piling up – dishes from yesterday need to be washed, and wet clothes are waiting to be hung out to dry… the guilt is crippling!

Ha! No – no crippling housework guilt here. Bugger it – I’ll do it later. After I reach my 5000 words!

(I’ll post a comment below later to let you know how I go!)

Old Stories and New Writing…

The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

Oh yes indeed it is – especially when you sit down to write with no idea of what you will write about. That is what I am facing in one and a half days time – with Camp Nano starting and me having no ideas. Aside from my first ever Nano in 2008 I have always known what I was going to write about come Nov 1st (or June 1st, or in this case August 1st).  Last Camp – in June – Inspiration struck several days before hand. I was watching the sun set, admiring the red sky and thought of the line “Red Sky at Night, Sailor’s Delight!” Instantly I had a story – the whole story- there in my mind. It changed slightly as I wrote it, but I knew from the start where it was headed, the details of the main characters and the mystery behind the female main character’s past.

I sit here now – with 35 hours and 59 minutes to go (to be exact!), and have no clue. But I’m going to start anyway. I’m going to sit down on the 1st August (35 hours 58 minutes to go now) and I am going to write. And if all goes well – I will achieve this:

“The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising… and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.” – Neil Gaiman

This is what I felt while writing ‘Red Sky’. And I’ve felt it with other novels too, but never with the same intensity, never the whole way through, never from beginning to end.

So wish me luck! And I return the wishes to all out there participating in Camp Nano (and even if you are not – good luck with your writing also!)

And in case you are wondering about the title of this post – Old Stories and New Writing – I have a new page on my blog – with the first story I ever published. ‘Sacred Circle’ was written as an exercise in description in my Grade 12 Class, 13 years ago. It was published two years later.


So much news I’m not sure where to start!!

So I’ll start with the news I completed Camp Nano last Tuesday 19th June!!! Final word count 50,997. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, a pirate/fantasy story currently titled ‘Red Sky’. I look forward to coming back and editing it in a month or two. For anyone who wants to take part in Camp Nano, there is another one in August. Will I be there you ask? Well… I might. I had so much fun this month that I’m really quite looking forward to doing it again as long as I find a story to write!  🙂 My characters were such fun company, and I loved writing something a  little bit different (I’ve never written about Pirates before!). My cabin mates on the Camp Nano site were great company, (Keep going girls! You can do it!!).

My other exciting news is that I have won an honorary mention in the Five Stop Story competition, and as a reward my story has been published alongside many brilliant other stories on their website Check it out and if you like it, don’t forget to click on the  little blue heart at the bottom of the page! 🙂

My Progress

For those of you interested in following my progress – Camp Nano is going well. I had a brilliant night last night – getting almost 3000 words down in a couple of hours. Night time is definitely my writing time. My muse finds me, and the story just flows!!

The only thing holding me back at the moment is the very un-nano-ish thing I’ve started doing, which is to stop and google information – character names, sea shanties, place names, ship names, ship details, pirate crew specifics.It’s all very interesting of course, and does lead in some cases to further story ideas, and of course more detail. But in it’s own way it is a little like procrastination. It is something I must remember to stop – for during the month of Nano  the whole purpose is to write! Get those words down – Can’t think of a name for a character, write BOY1 until you find a name. Make up the details of the crew, invent the parts of the ship. None of it has to be realistic, not yet, and who knows what brilliant invention the imagination might spring forth if we just give it the chance!

It is my aim for the remainder of Nano… don’t stop writing, during a writing session. Don’t leave the word processing page, until the days limit has been achieved. Maybe jot down a note or two at the side (“must look up …”) but leave the googling till after the writing is over.

One Chapter at a time…

Writing a story a chapter a day is… interesting, to say the least.

In the past I have always just sat down to write, and worried about chapters later. I have also, where possible, just kept on writing, getting those words out while they were flowing. This time, I’m not. I’m limiting myself. Once I reach the word count for the day, I wrap up my chapter (well usually I’m starting to wrap it up before hand), and stop.

Why? Well, mostly because I wrote over 100,000 words just over 6 months ago, and this time I just want to take it easy – go with the flow. It’s a very different way for me to write, and I don’t like it, and I may well change in the coming weeks, and simply get the story written. However I choose to continue with Camp Nano however, I do not intend to write too much more than 50,000 words.

But I have come across a competition. It’s for a novella – 20,000 to 50,000 words with the theme of ‘origin’. It’s only for writers in Aus and NZ, so apologies to all you folk living in other parts of the world – but for those interested – here’s the link:

When I started CampNano I didn’t actually intend to enter this. I’d seen it, but had no idea what to write about. Still the idea must’ve been lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain because today I began writing about my characters origins. She thinks she knows them, you see, but it turns out she doesn’t. For the moment – neither do I (although I have some vague ideas), so it will be interesting to see what happens next. Stay tuned…

Camping is fun!

I have signed up for, and started Camp Nano.

Having never been virtual camping before I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But somehow, strangely enough, it does have a ‘camp-y’ sort of feel to it! I have a cabin which I ‘share’ with 5 others. They are all at least 10 years younger than me, (with the possible exception of one who has not shared her age) and come from all over the world – Germany, France, UK and US. Wow! The other’s mostly seem to be writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, though one has left her genre blank and the other’s simply says ‘other’. We have our own message board – and so far three of the others have been active in writing messages, and sharing virtual snacks (s’mores – I have heard so much about them recently, but still never had one! – for those of you who have no idea what they are – check this out: also see image below!). The other two cabin members have been quiet so far – not a peep out of them.  

I’m looking forward to sharing my month of writing with these people. Singing songs and telling stories around the camp fire, hopefully learning a thing or two about the places they come from (aside from s’mores . (I still can’t get past this idea of S’mores – chocolate, marshmallow – it sounds divinely rich and totally sickening at the same time!) Sharing our novel-writing journey.

And I suppose I should share a few words of my own writing journey while I’m at it! I’ve had two hectic days – organising my son’s 6th birthday party with friends, as well as a quieter family dinner, and preparing candles ready to sell at a market has not left much time for writing – still, I’ve squeezed it in – managing 1695 words yesterday, and 1771 words today. (For those who don’t know, the daily word count goal of Nano is 1667). So I am coasting at the moment. My aim is to write a chapter a day – something I have never really bothered with in the past, where I have just written and tried sorting the story into chapters later. So far, so good. My first two chapters have come to a natural ending, ready to move on to the next part of the story.

For now I’m exhausted. Looking forward to a sleep in and a much more relaxed day for writing tomorrow!