What I’m not reading — Mar 2021

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

I’ve been good this year. Somehow, I’m managing to read and get my work done, which has not happened so harmoniously in many years. However, while I’m chewing through a hard sci-fi and a sweet romance, my TBR is still giving me puppy-dog eyes. Apparently, one can’t just read today. One must read faster. Oh well~ 😪

Here are the little culprits currently gathering dust in the corner of my mind palace…

Occupational Hazard: An Anthology of Sexy Workplace Stories by Rebecca Chase

A lady in sexy corporate-wear on the cover of Occupational Hazard by Rebecca Chase

As much as I love a good long-read with complex storylines, I’m very keen on what I call “snack reads”—short stories you can enjoy with satisfaction within little pockets of time. That’s what drew me to Rebecca Chase’s 2020 release, Occupational Hazard, an anthology of six sexy workplace stories. Real-life smutty office moments may not be my thing, but steamy workplace stories certainly are.

Open to Love by Lyndell Williams

A woman in a hijab smiles while a bearded man smoulders on the cover of Open to Love by Lyndell Williams

Having just finished watching Vida, I’m in so in the mood for romantic drama and sexual tension, and expect Lyndell Williams’s Open to Love to deliver in droves. I mean, just check out that cover and read this blurb: “Faheem uses all his charms to make sure Hafsah becomes his, but flirting can be a dangerous thing when committing to no sex outside of marriage. The two play with some serious fire that might burn them both.” 🔥🔥🔥

Neon Hearts by Stefanie Simpson

A woman illuminated in pink and blue on the cover of Neon Hearts by Stefanie Simpson

This amazing book is coming out in a few days and I can’t waaaaaaait! Unfortunately, I shall have to wait, but that’ll just give me more time to get excited. Stef Simpson is an amazing writer with a tight writing style that carries so much feeling. She was kind enough to chat with me earlier this month about NEON HEARTS and her other work. You can check it out her interview here.

The Train Guy by Michelle Prak

Cover of The Train Guy by Michelle Prak: A woman pretends to look at her phone while really watching a man reading his book on a train

I’m not sure what to expect from this book, but I love that Michelle Prak’s The Train Guy involves longing from afar and time spent on a train (yeah, I like trains). Oh, and it’s an Australian romance, which means it’ll probably have that special Aussie cheekiness about it too.

A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

A woman's face shown through the silhouette of a bird amidst leaves and flowers on the cover of A Lover's Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo 100% won me over with its cover and serious, almost solemn, blurb. It struck me as an introspective love story and in my post-dentist high, I picked up the paperback immediately. Don’t shop for books while on drugs, kids. Or, maybe do…? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

The Queen’s Alliance (Kingdoms of the Ocean #1) by Jessica Gleave

A red-headed mermaid on the cover of The Queen's Alliance by Jessica Gleave

I should be good and press on with Jessica Gleave’s Sky Realms series, especially after finding such a gem of a fantasy romance in Helios and Zelena. But when I found out this author has a merfolk series too, my curiosity was piqued. Neveah will just have to wait. The Queen’s Alliance is the next Gleave book on my list.

Moon — the last edits are in!

Earlier this week, I turned in the final edit of O, swear not by the moon (let’s call it “Moon” for short bc I’m soooooo tired of typing out the full title).

It feels BLOODY GREAT to be on the other side of that WIP. Don’t get me wrong, I had a whale of a time writing it 🐳 but I’ve never created a a piece of fiction that lengthy to a deadline so tight before… Which, in all fairness, wasn’t that tight (and at 12.5k words, my piece is hardly lengthy), but with Christmas and start-of-the-year particulars hitting me at the same time, I consider completing this project a personal achievement.

“Moon” is also the first story that pushed me hard on both the science fiction and romance fronts. In all my published work to date, I’ve taken the sci-fi elements fairly casually. Yes, even though It Starts With A Kiss has that “engineers in space” thing, the science is still incidental to the characters’ respective journeys.

With “Moon”, I wanted to explore how technology empowers human connection, similar to how it enables our relationships today. We often blame the Internet and social media for weakening our in-person relationships, but I’d like to know… how robust were these relationships to begin with if they could be threatened by a tool that offers us more opportunity to connect?

We now have the ability to bypass chance. We’re no longer “stuck with” the pool of people who happened to be around us when we were born. We have the means to intentionally seek out and nurture relationships with others who might understand and know how to appreciate us. That, I feel, deserves acknowledgement.

There are other things “Moon” gave me an outlet to explore, but because they’re a bit spoilery, I won’t discuss them right now. I’d prefer for you to explore them with me through the story.

It comes out 26th April in Fedowar Press’s Star Crossed anthology of romantic science fiction.

Does failure start with a big F?

In case you missed it, Facebook banned the sharing of news in Australia last week. The new ruling was rolled out very clumsily, with the public suddenly unable to access swathes of essential information services. Look, I won’t re-hash the story. That linked article gives a pretty clear rundown of what happened.

I feel like I should be righteously indignant about this, but I’m not. I’m concerned and I’m curious. We, the users of giant “free” social media platforms, are subject to decisions made by opaque corporations and governments scrambling to keep up with changing technology. In this unexplored social, technological and legislative territory, these decisions amount to large-scale experiments with us as the lab rats.

And the two questions we may not ask ourselves enough remain:

  1. Are we okay with this?
  2. And, what’s the alternative if we aren’t?

What would communication look like if you were to give up social media? What would you miss out on if the rest of your social network stayed on there? Could your small business, hobby, desire for connection flourish without it?

As usual, I have more questions than answers. I know no one’s forcing us to stay on these big platforms, but I also realise that everyone’s situation is different. Some people depend on social media because other avenues are inaccessible to them. So to get all high and mighty about the choices people make is very often an exercise in projection.

There are flaws on both sides of the fence. Neither Facebook nor Australia’s news media have a clean track record, and the optimist in me wants to believe this is part of the shake-up needed for everyone to figure out a smart way forward. And still, I worry about those of us who would become “collateral damage” in the process. I worry that we’re the frog in the water and whoever’s turning up the temperature won’t know when to stop.

Is that paranoid and overly dramatic? I hope so. I hope that’s all it turns out to be.

Hobbies that feed my fiction

Throughout my life, I’ve been prone to minor obsessions (and many not so minor), some of which have been finding their way into my writing. I think the best part about being a bit of a hobby junkie is how much one can learn without it feeling like work.

It is work, of course. As they say, we never get to skip eating the shit sandwich, we can only choose the flavour it comes in. But if that sandwich happens to be a flavour we enjoy, then it seems appropriate to count our blessings.

So, here are a few of mine 💜💜💜💜

Birdwatching 🐦

Did you know that birdwatching is such a serious pursuit, they have a different name for the truly committed enthusiast? I’m definitely more on the casual end of the spectrum, though I do own a pair of binoculars bought specifically for this hobby. In our home, it’s not about snapping photos or filling out a catalogue. We just try to say hello to as many birds as possible when we’re out on a walk. Bonus points if we can identify the species, imitate the bird call, or whip out a fun fact on the spot.

We’ve had odd encounters with our local birds. They can be real friendly once they get to know you, and some just aren’t afraid at all as long as you seem non-threatening. We found an owl in our driveway a couple summers ago, staring at us like we were the weirdos out of place. Once, I sat for ages next to a cormorant who pretty much snubbed me the whole time (tbf he was probably asleep). And then there was that well-orchestrated bird heist

Anyway, even as just a casual hobbyist, this interest popped up in an early writing exercise. Birdwatchers, an erotic short story, ensued.

Book cover for Birdwatchers by JL Peridot

Martial arts 🥋

Up until a couple years ago, I studied a shōtōkan-based martial art with my partner and some friends. I originally got into it as mental-health management and body awareness practice, but ended up going as far as a brown-belt grading. Really, it was a “just for fun” grading, as I’d recently graded and was rocking a sprained ankle from something unrelated. A proper brown-belt grading would have flattened me.

I had a love-hate relationship with this sport, but learned so much from doing it. The experience of sparring was especially useful to the work I do now. It’s not the same as a real-life fight situation, and I only ever did it at a beginner level, but it gave me a taste of those on-your-feet things your brain thinks and registers when you’re in the moment.

Most importantly, it showed me the things you don’t take notice of. This dramatically changed my approach to writing action scenes, culminating in the fights that appear in Chasing Sisyphus.

Book cover for Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot

Partying 👯‍♀️

I spent my twenties as “one of the bad kids”, frantically making up for a youth squandered amidst strait-laced negativity and toxic conformity. I partied with a variety of goodies, sometimes every night, and today thank my lucky stars that a) it never hindered my ability to work and function, and b) I’m not biologically or psychologically predisposed to addiction.

Ironically, that lifestyle ended up being good for me at the time. It helped me unwind in ways I never knew how to before and helped me think about things with a different perspective. It let me develop some artistic confidence and practice self-awareness under unusual circumstances—both early-days skills I could take back with me to Sobriety City. It’s for this reason that I feel certain illicit substances shouldn’t be outlawed, but studied and regulated with care and pragmatism, and with a body of education developed around them.

I wouldn’t recommend this hobby for everyone—even a short stint of deep research will come with risks—but well, it was certainly a time in my life, and the experiences from it factor a lot into my writing today.

Arduino programming 🤖

For a brief period, I was very into microcontrollers. Arduino, to be specific. I’ve always regretted skipping the hardware units at school, thinking stuff like logic gates and resistance calculations would never come up in my work. Getting into this hobby filled a huge gap in my computer science education, which I’d never missed in my web development career, but definitely ended up yearning for in life.

The obsessive phase for this hobby was short, but I learned just enough of the concepts, principles and vocabulary to develop Celeste’s character for It Starts with a Kiss. Even though it’s a soft sci-fi romance that’s light on the tech, I’m glad I got to write an MC who talks nerdy like it’s normal, not too unlike many of the beloved nerds in my life.


How about you? What hobbies scratch your itch right now? How do you feel when you see one of your interests appear in the books you read? If you write as well, what hobbies have played into your work? Leave a comment. Let’s chat ☺️

Status Update — Jan 2021

It was SO warm last week. With temps in the high 30s—even cracking 40 a couple of times—my homebody self has been uncharacteristically eager to go out just to enjoy 15 minutes of air-conditioning in the car. We had a little reprieve over the weekend, and despite predictions of the days climbing back up to 40, we seem to be back in the gorgeous Celsius bracket of first summer 🥵 According to the Noongar calendar, this is Birak.

Warm days generally adds an extra struggle factor to writing. This is the kind of weather to spend being restless, agitated, out and about instead of sweating away at a desk. But I do love it. And I’m trying to work better with the seasons. For example, we just started keeping our water filter jug in the fridge.

I know. Genius, right? 💁🏻‍♀️

This month, I’ve committed to getting just one WIP past the post. Surely focusing on just one thing means it’ll get done, because that’s exactly how life works 😅😅😅 It’s a sci-fi romance short story that’s been bouncing around in the ol’ coconut since November. And in case you’re curious, I’ll leave off with a wee snippet from Instagram:

A subroutine pours a drink for Roxy. Tanith studies the arc trajectories of particles as they slosh and swirl against the glass. So realistic. The latest patch to the Garden has all but eliminated the uncanny valley that reminds her she belongs to a different world.

Red wine spills into a glass

My 2020 in lists

Work I released this year

  1. About Her (short story)
  2. Playing Trades (short story)
  3. Microfiction via Dot Club

New things I learned about

  1. Basic shoulder anatomy
  2. Sustainable activism
  3. World War II history
  4. A little about the American electoral system
  5. Pilates

What I wish I did less of

  1. Multi-tasking
  2. Doom-scrolling
  3. Overworking

What I wish I did more of

  1. Finishing projects
  2. Research & writing for The Basilica Conspiracy
  3. Writing for Project H
  4. House chores 🏚😅🧹
  5. Art and non-writing crafts

Books/Stories that grabbed me

  1. Simmer Down by Sarah Smith
  2. Chasing Elliot by Stefanie Simpson
  3. Hell Yeah! Or No by Derek Sivers
  4. Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald
  5. An Eligible Boy (short story) by Ian McDonald

Movies that grabbed me

  1. Uncut Gems (2019)
  2. Sexy Beast (2001)
  3. The Lighthouse (2019)
  4. Drive (2011)
  5. The Gentlemen (2020)

What I’m grateful for

  1. Family 💜
  2. Ebooks and streaming telly
  3. Supportive friends on the same wavelength
  4. A clever State premier who cares about people’s health and wellbeing
  5. The weather we have here

My hopes for next year

  1. More learnings & career progression
  2. Writing better & releasing more stories
  3. Developing healthier eating habits 🐷🐷🐷
  4. Making It Starts With A Kiss available again after Kyanite closes
  5. Being more organised and disciplined about my work and mental health

The pain you choose

There are only 26 days left until the new year. I don’t know about you, but this winds me up a bit, especially when I think about all the things I meant to do since January, but haven’t done yet 😬

Self-pressure is not the greatest thing, but I saw this quote yesterday:

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

— Jim Rohn

It makes me question which kind of pain I’ve embraced this year, and which kind I’m now facing as we count down our sleeps to the end of the month.

I have many regrets about this year. Like the unfinished WIPs I need both hands to count. I regret the times I stressed over how many there are—to the point where I couldn’t muster the energy to just start working on one. I regret taking on so much work and letting everything get unmanageable. I regret neglecting self-care and mental health matters. I regret worrying so much about stuff that just wasn’t that important in the end.

I know I have workaholic tendencies. But doing more work isn’t the same as being disciplined about work. So, lesson learned, hey?

I’d like to be able to say, “Next year, I choose the pain of discipline,” but it’s never that easy. This isn’t the sort of choice you make once and live happily ever after. It’s a choice you have to make, over and over again, every time you hit that fork in the road between The Thing You Gotta Do and Some Other Thing.

Well, here’s to making better choices in 2021. It’s hard to feel too bummed when you still have the power to change.

She knew the start of a dick-swinging when she saw one — excerpt from Chasing Sisyphus

It’s been a while since the last excerpt share. This one’s from my first novella, Chasing Sisyphus, published by Siren-BookStrand and released in 2017.

She found Declan crouched over a puddle on the floor. She grabbed a handful of paper towels and stooped down beside him, mopping up the spill.

“I got it.” He hissed, and snatched them from her.

“Sorry, I thought you’d want some help.”

“You brought a cop into my home. How does that help? Are you trying to get me shipped out?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t have brought him here if I had a choice.”

“What do you mean ‘choice’? What kind of shit are you caught up in, Ade?”

“I could ask you the same thing!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“The car? Last night?”

“Are you drunk? What car?”

She heard Rhys clear his throat behind them and shut her mouth. They turned to see the detective’s broad body towering over them from the doorway.

“The car you ran into the Legion River last night,” he answered. “At least, I think that’s what she means. But don’t stop talking on my account.”

Declan postured up, gripping a shard of mug in one hand. Rhys reached for the holster in his jacket.

Adria leapt between them. She knew the start of a dick-swinging when she saw one. She held both them at arm’s length, hand to chest, looking back and forth between them, keeping shard and gun in the corners of her vision.

“What say we skip the coffee and talk? Just talk, OK? That’s all we came for, Dec. Honest.”

Book cover for Chasing Sisyphus by JL Peridot

Chasing Sisyphus is the first book in The Basilica Conspiracy series. If you fancy checking it out while I’m still working on the other books, you can find ebook purchase links on my website.

Project 365

Follow my Project 365 on Instagram.

Back in September, when I was super stressed and anxious about a lot of things, I remembered an old social media photo challenge. It’s called “Project 365”, where you post a photo a day for a year. People still do it today, though it doesn’t seem to pop up as often as it used to.

When last I tried it, I found some much-needed perspective on the life I was living at the time. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, and it takes something big (like 365 photos) to finally bring the landscape into focus. I saw the traps I kept falling into. I discovered what was making me unhappy, and from there, I could make changes.

A 3x3 Instagram grid of miscellaneous photos
Follow my Project 365 on Instagram.

I’m on Day 68 now and it’s been great so far. I feel connected to my surroundings and a sense of ownership over my choices and activities, though if you’d asked me before if I felt disconnected, I probably would have said no. Maybe it’s a case of not realising what we’re missing until we find it.

Just under 300 days to go. I wonder what else will come up along the way.

If you’ve ever done a 365, I’d love to hear about it. How did you find it? What did you get out of it? How did you feel by the end? Leave a comment or send me an email if you feel like sharing!