Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Gifts from Hell

With Christmas coming up, gifts are never far from my mind.  I was telling my husband this story recently, and thought I'd share it with you.

When I was 13-14 years old, I was at a sleepover at my best friend's house.  As girls of that age do, I was rolling around on her bedroom floor, laughing my head off at something, when I spotted an album hidden behind her dresser.  When I made a grab for it, she was very embarrassed.  I, however, thought it was even more hysterically funny.

The album was a Leo Sayer one.  Not cool, not even in the mid-80's (the New Romantics era - if this doesn't make any sense to you, Google it.  If nothing else, it'll give you a laugh).  She refused to say where the album had come from but I can guess why it was hidden.  She was the epitome of cool (at least, to me), so I'm not surprised she had a burning desire to hide it from the world.

As it happens, our birthdays were nine days apart.  Mine came first.  When it came around, six months later, I had forgotten all about the Leo Sayer album.  Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped the album as my birthday gift!

After laughing hysterically (yet again), I carefully put it away.  When her birthday came around nine days later, I re-wrapped it and gave it back to her.

So began a gift-swap that lasted a few years.  I don't know who ended up with it it in the end - pretty sure it wasn't me. 

I wonder if she still has it?

Do you have any gifts-from-hell stories you care to share?  I'd love to hear them!

~ Amanda

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

"Between Before and After" - Teaser One

Thanks to those who voted on my Facebook page, here's a teaser from "Between Before and After" for you.  If you missed the synopsis for this, my next book, you can catch it here.

As always, I'd love to hear your feedback (either here or over on my Facebook page).  Keep in mind that this is an unedited teaser as the manuscript is still in Editing Mode - it may change yet. 

Enjoy (if that's even the right word!). 

~ Amanda



TEASER (unedited version, subject to change)

Max sat on the edge of the small wooden dinghy that was dry-docked in the boat house and stared out across the water. The bay was still, the water not even lapping the shoreline anymore. It was crystal-clear, the mountains on the opposite shore reflected in it. In stark contrast to the peace and tranquillity around him, his mind whirled so much he could barely think straight. The air was thick with the sound of chirping cicadas and it felt like he was hanging onto the last threads of sanity with only one hand, fighting off the incessant cicadas with the other.

He could feel them watching him up at the house. He knew they meant well, but it was nobody’s business how many beers he had or how fast he drank them. A sense of entitlement bolstered him. He took a mouthful from the bottle of beer in his hand, as if proving a point. Shuddering in the afternoon heat, goose bumps rose on his skin. He was hoping the peace and tranquillity of the water’s edge would somehow make things better.

He tried to recall Danny’s face. He tried to remember the sound of his laughter. He fought to remember the simple things but it all seemed hazy and unclear now. The only thing he could recall in crystal clarity was the blood. So much blood. Not red and clear, like in the movies, but dark and sticky.

Breathing heavily, he hunched forward, resting his elbows on his knees. The edge of the wooden dinghy he was sitting on became hard and uncomfortable as he picked at the label on his beer bottle.


Max almost jumped. He rolled his eyes and shook his head as Gavin peered around the boat house doors that he had pegged open to catch the most of the view.

“Man – you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Sorry.” Gavin shrugged apologetically and walked into the darkened boat house, thick with the stench of damp, settling himself beside Max.

They sat in silence for several uncomfortable minutes.

“I keep forgetting how quiet it is out here.” Gavin mumbled after a while.

“Yeah, if you can get past those bloody cicadas.” Max mumbled, his eyes scanning the horizon as he took another long swallow from his bottle.

“Noisy little buggers.”

They sat awhile longer, the afternoon heat gathering around them, stifling them.

“You think we might take the boat out later? Think it’s still watertight?” Gavin asked suddenly, turning around to scan the boat suspiciously.

Max shrugged, glancing behind him.

“Yeah, maybe. Who knows.”

The silence settled over them once again.

“Here’s the thing - we’re worried about you, dude. Lacey sent me out here to check up on you – she told me to be discreet but I don’t really do discreet, shocker, I know.” Gavin said simply. “So how are you – really? Because you look like crap.”

Max gazed out over the water, sighing. He didn’t even bother to lie and tell him that he was fine. There didn’t seem to be much point.

“Did you ever, y’know, wonder what Danny was thinking about, the second before he pulled the trigger?”

The silence hung between them like a shroud and time stopped for a moment. Even the cicadas seemed to hush.

“Honestly? Yeah. I used to think about it a lot.” Gavin said finally, his voice barely audible.

Max nodded solemnly, glancing around at him. “And?” he prompted, when no further details were forthcoming.

Gavin shrugged. “And, I don’t know - I don’t have a clue.” He paused for a moment, breathing out heavily. “Honestly, I’m not sure I even want to know anymore.”

Max nodded. He understood the sentiment, but somewhere deep inside him, he had really wanted Gavin to say something else. Something reassuring. Something that he could live with.

“I just wish he’d told someone.” Gavin continued quietly. “That might’ve made a difference. Maybe we could’ve helped.”

They sat looking out over the bay as the late afternoon sunlight caught the water, making it sparkle like diamonds bobbing in the deep.

“He didn’t want help.” Max said quietly.

He could feel Gavin’s eyes on him, digging deep inside his brain, trying to dredge up the images from that day.

They’re right there, he said to himself. Right in front of you. Help yourself.

His hands trembling now, he took another long swallow of beer, trying not to choke on it as the memory of that day lodged in his throat.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Sharing is Caring

Writing a book is like open-heart surgery (minus the anesthetic...and the blood).  You literally open your heart and pour it out onto the pages, hoping that some of what you have written will strike a chord with someone else.  Someone you don't know (or possibly, someone you do, which is both better and worse), will pick this piece of yourself up and step into the world among the pages, a world you have created, and come out the other side having felt something.  Preferably something good, but something at least.

It's not easy and it's not quick, either.  It takes time and it takes guts - and a whole lot of effort.  For as long as it takes to write the book, your mind is somewhere else.  Even when you're supposed to be concentrating on [insert anything other than the book here], the characters and their story are always there, lurking, demanding attention.  You learn to multi-task.  You might think you're taking a break from it by going to the cinema, going for a walk, watching TV, spending time with your family, doing housework or [insert any other activity here], but deep down you realise you're kidding yourself.  Your story won't allow that.  Not at all.

So, when you take that giant leap and throw this lovingly hand-crafted giant piece of yourself out into the world, you hold your breath.  You hope.  You dream.  You pray.  Not for accolades or for awards, not for fame or for fortune, but just for the simplest thing: that someone will LIKE it.  Even better - that someone will like it enough to want to share it with their friends.  The more someones who do this, the better.  The net will widen.  The book will find "an audience". 

Did you read "Absolution"?  Did you enjoy it?  If so, please share it with your friends!  Let them know where they can buy it (Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo), ask them to pop on over to my Facebook page and say hi!  Help me widen that net, just a little bit.  A review at the site you purchased the book from would also be fantastic (or on my Goodreads page).  That really helps - and at the moment, I need every recommendation and review I can get.

Please?  I'd really appreciate it.  Truly. 

(And while I'm at it - thank you so much to all of those who have left reviews or let me know how much you enjoyed the book.  You make my day every single time!).