Thursday, October 19, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep

With National Novel Writing Month just a few weeks away, I've been in preparation mode.

Now, if you've done this great - and challenging - way of writing a novel, you'll know it's a very stressful way of getting your ideas onto a computer screen very quickly, pulling them together and writing as much as you can in a short amount of time; then logging it onto the NaNoWriMo site every day or so.

I've been doing it for only two years, and have written two lovely novels from it. However, just the first draft of those novels gets finished a the end of that month and then I spend most of the rest of the year rewriting and redrafting it just to get in and start on another novel; while I'm working on getting the first one published. 

It's fun, stressful and amazing all at the same time... and it gets a writer writing their best - or worse - stuff! However this year, I'm going to be doing it here at home. You see, last year, I attended a group; and even though there were only two of there, we had a lot of interruptions, there was only a 2 hour time limit and I wasn't all that prepared for it.
At home, I can concentrate in the comfort of my house, in a nice comfortable chair and the privacy of my home office. If I don't want to be interrupted by the phone, I'll just stick the cordless in the other room... and ignore it for the hours I'll be working on my NaNoWriMo time.

It'll be a lot easier for me to work on my books here... plus I'll be able to bring food into here; whereas the at the library, we had to smuggle food in there and were scolded by the librarians for doing so (yep, that old-fashioned value still sticks today).

But I'm more prepared this time around. I've been thinking of what I'm going to write, taken down some notes, have done some research and now I'm more than ready to get my writing brain into NaNoWriMo next month! 

How about you? Are you doing this great exercise in book-writing? Are you up for the challenge? Well, until my next post, happy reading - and writing!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Writers Groups

Yesterday, I was supposed to be at a market. However, due to weather problems here in Brisbane, it has been postponed for 3 weeks.

So, here I was sitting at the computer fluffing around on the internet, when I was invited out to the Logan Writers Group morning meeting at the Beenleigh Historical Village.

I had no idea where it was (so I Google Earthed it).

I really didn't want to go anywhere (I was really settled in).

I packed up my writing stuff and left the house anyway.

There's nothing better than being spontaneous about something in your life. And yesterday was a good day to get in and just get out of the house for the first time in a week.

The traffic wasn't too bad on the roads and I'm glad I did get away from the house and noise of the unit complex; as when I got off the highway - at the right exit, surprisingly - and around to the place, I found it very easy to get to the historical village.

And since it's been a long time since I was there last - around 3 years - I found there's been a big museum built, concrete pathways laid and better toilets as well as an industrial kitchen. The cafe also serves breakfast! Now, that's a great thing to have in a place like this! This means this place opens at around 8am... and when you're a tourist and you have friends staying who like to get going early, there's nothing like a good place to go to bright and early - which is a museum as well - and it serves breakfast!
Well, I arrived, found the cafe easily and also found the only other member of the Logan Writers and joined her to sit and write. But first, I grabbed something to eat and a nice hot latte. Yep, writing certainly takes it out of you!

I sat there for 3 hours planning my NaNoWriMo for next month. I planned who my characters were going to be, what the plot was going to be, and how it may end. I'm still not sure how things may wrap up, but I figured out the name of the second character and how the first one gets to talk to them in the first place. This is good, because when I arrived there yesterday, all I had was an idea, a character name and the brief half a chapter written up... so I did get a lot done.

But we did get a lot talked about with our writing, about editing, publishing and other things not about writing as well. This was a good day out! Then, after the battery on our laptop and tablet went flat, she went home; but I stuck around the the Historical Village and walked around. I took some great photos of the place (for another story idea I had and an art project) and then I walked into the post office and found two typewriters they used in the Chronicles of Narnia films! Now, that was a great find; as I love typewriters! Well, until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Favourite Reads

It's October. It's that time of the year where it's Spring here in Australia and Fall/Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere; and it's the perfect temperatures everywhere to settle in and read a book without either sweating in the heat or freezing the snow.

It's also the time I get out some of my favourite books to read again... yeah, I love to reread books sometimes. Now, I haven't read that many books this year; but I did get through a few in a month or two over June or so when I had Laryngitis... and that was good. I'm reading other books over the last month; and have just begun 'Lisey's Story' by Stephen King - a great book I've had on my shelves for over a year; and yet I haven't read it yet.

I thought to add to this post a list of my favourite books as well, so you guys can see what I love to read otherwise. Some of these are books I've read years ago, while others have been recently added on.

'84 Charing Crossing Road' by Helene Hanff
'The Stand' by Stephen King
'Jigs & Reels' by Joanne Harris
'Time and Again' by Jack Finney
'The Wave' by Moreton Rue
'A Patch of Blue' by Elizabeth Kata
'Somewhere In Time' by Richard Matheson
'From A Buick 8' by Stephen King
'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - The Trilogy In Four Parts' by Douglas Adams
'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham
'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson
'The Spare Room' by Helen Garner
'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde
'I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings' by Maya Angelou
'The Monkey's Mask' by Dorothy Porter
'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury
'Love Is A Mixed Tape' by Rob Sheffield
'He Died With A Felafel In His Hand' by John Birminham
'Other Colours' by Orhan Pamuk
'Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemmingway
'Red Dog' by Louis de Berneires 
'The Bee-Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer

I've read about 9 of these books more than once; simply because the author has that wonderful way of pulling me in as a reader. This is something I've been working on doing as a writer myself over the years I've been writing books, stories and poetry - and believe me, when the hook and the story reads effortlessly, that's when you know it's been worked on the most. 

So, which books have you read the most from your collection? Or do you read a book once and that's it, you move onto the next ones in your Mt TBR pile? Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Chilling Out In the Heat

Today is the first day of only a few where I'm not doing much - well, okay a little housework, but not as much as I'd normally do. 

I'm not editing anything because 'The Tour Guide' is off being read by my First Reader. And I'm looking into getting the cover done over the next month or so.

And I'm also waiting for my business cards to show in the mail from Vistaprint as well - in time for the markets next month.

So, I'm going to finish up the archiving of my files in the green box and the purple boxes and put them away this weekend. And I've picked a good weekend for this as it's a real stinker of a weekend here in Brisbane.

I'm hoping to get this room all finished up before Christmas - as I believe that no matter what, slow and steady wins the race. If I rush in cleaning out books or cleaning out the business side of my life, I'll toss out something I really do need. 

I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

There's also the NaNoWriMo coming up as well, which I'm hoping to take part in again this year. From the past two years, I wrote some great works and got in and did some interesting books from that month of writing. I wrote 'Angel Love' and 'The Tour Guide' during the last two years... I wonder what I'll get done this year? 

Well, that's all I'm up to at the moment. Until my next post, happy reading.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Home Office Clean-Up

I haven't done much reading lately. But this is mainly because I've been decluttering the home office; and haven't had the time to get in and read any of my books which I normally love to read at this time of year.

There's three archive boxes blocking up the room, along with synthetic bags sitting around with bank statements and bills in them... and I've also got rubbish bags waiting to be used for rubbish - and so far, I've tossed out three bags into the bin outside.

However, I have found some written work I've been looking for and put that away to transfer it all onto the computer - this will take time as there's plenty of other work to get onto the computer and to file away as well.

Otherwise, I'm trying to find a book I read in 2010 titled 'The Traveller' by John Twelve Hawks. I found a letter I wrote to my niece - but never posted - and what I wrote about the book in it was pretty good; and I started looking for it last night to see if I could add it to my Mt TBR without success. I'm hoping to get in and find it over the weekend... I know I didn't throw it out and it's not a Bookcrossing book either.

Well, what are you getting up this weekend? You know I'm looking for that book to add to my pile of reading, and I'm also going to look at editing something for publishing. Then, I'm going to send off some of my work to one of my First Readers to see how it goes over. I really want to get something published this year. Well, until my next post, happy reading.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Inspiration

Writers are asked where they get their inspiration every day. But we can't answer that question the same way each time we're asked; it's not possible.

Some of the most famous people get their inspiration for their best-known works from the most mundane things in life. 

Haruki Murakami keeps to a strict routine of health and fitness when he's writing a novel. He says the repetition of it keeps him inspired. 

Daniel Handler says that noticing everyday things and was his way of being inspired. He saw everyday events and took them in a different way or perspective.

Richard Siken started painting after he published his book of poetry - 'Crush' - and felt he didn't have anything else to say. So, after he started painting, he began writing about painting - first about himself painting, then about other paintings. He also reads books he loves; then to push himself to write, he'll read something he hates as well. The latter makes him get in and work on new work.

Ann Patchett's way is to consider everything; then weeds out what she can't use - there's no good or bad inspiration. She says: 'Most of us are full up with bad stories, self-indulgent stories, works of unendurable melodrama. We must get them all out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath.'

So many other writers take a different take on how they become inspired. I got the above authors ways from here

But there's always the ones we already know of; like Agatha Christie, who got her best ideas while washing up. Stephen King always takes an afternoon walk - even now - every day (with a book in hand). 

How I get my inspiration is to work on other things besides my writing. I've taken up painting, and when I'm working on that - which works a different part of my brain altogether - I can figure out what needs working on while I'm painting. Other ways I become inspired is to get outside and work hard in my garden... this is most especially in Winter when my garden is dormant and my plants need repotting or upgrading to bigger containers. Otherwise, I get in and knit or do needlepoint - which doesn't sound like I'm doing much, but it's all do with with my hands, while watching my favourite tv show on dvd: 'Supernatural'. And man, do I get some great ideas from there? Of course I do! Well, until my next post, happy reading - and writing.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Spring Reading

I haven't done much reading this year - and that's something I really want to change over the next few months.

So, I've begun reading 'One-In-A-Million Boy' by Monika Wood. It's an ARC copy book my late-Grandmother's cousin gave me (as her daughter is in the publishing industry and gets them through her work) and once she reads them, well, she accumulates them in her garage. Now, she knows I love these books, she gives them to me to read and collect. I'm enjoying this one so far as it's based in one of my favourite parts of the world: Maine, USA. I've only seen pictures of the place, but I think it's a pretty place to base a book or a movie.

Then, I'd like to read 'The Shining' and 'Doctor Sleep' - in that order; as Sai King has been working hard on a lot of work since his accident. Nothin' like almost dying to get the creative juices running again, right? Well, I know how it feels - being a person who lives with Epilepsy and has almost died a few times from this condition myself! 

So, there's some of the books I'm hoping to get my nose into during the warmer Spring months. I'm not making any promises on how fast I'll be reading them, but they'll be read at the pace my brain wants me to read them. 

I'm also still editing 'The Tour Guide' and working on other written works like 'Angel Love' too. So, there's still a bit of work on my plate with books - written and from my own collection. 

So, do tell, what are you planning on reading over the next few months as the seasons either become warmer or cooler? I'd love to know. Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Busy Reading And Editing

Life has been busy lately. 

I've gotten 'ALERT! Epilepsy' tattooed to my right arm and removed my bracelet - that was on Tuesday - and that's itchy and healing now. 

I've been organising my house for another donation run at the charity store - I did one two days ago.

And I've been editing and fixing up 'The Tour Guide' this week too! So great that this book has finally taken off of its own accord and really become a great little gem... well, you know, I think so anyway. I've yet to leave it alone and let it slow cook on its own and then go back and see what kind of mess I've made of it.

But the best thing I've done this week is score some great classic novels! Ruth Park is a favourite New Zealand writer who really opened my eyes to fantasy and time travel with the book 'Playing Beatie Bow'. So, when I spotted 'Serpent's Delight', 'Dear Heart and Gentle People' and 'One-A-Pecker, Two-A-Pecker', I knew I had to have them! They'd be wonderful to add to not only 'Playing Beatie Bow' but to my hardcover edition of 'Harp In The South'... so I took them and two other books by two other authors. 

The first one is 'A Town Like Alice' by Nevil Shute, which I've seen the movie of and adore! Then, there's 'The House of God' by Samuel Shem. Now, I've never owned a copy of the former, and never heard of the latter, but I'm glad I picked up both of these to add to the ever-growing collection. 

What have you added to your collection lately which you can't wait to get your nose between the pages of? For me, I just can't choose - there's too many choices of great books! Until my next post, happy reading! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Out of the Comfort Zone!

I know! I know! I haven't been here... how lazy am I? Nah. I'm not lazy, I've been working on 'The Tour Guide'. It's nice little book, with a nice little story, and a nice little ending in it.

But really, when you're writing a story like this, you have to put in some adventure, some out-of-the-comfort-zone shit which will keep your reader turning them pages and glued to your story.

Okay... 'The Tour Guide' is a time-traveling story which is based in our present time. 

It's based in my home town of Brisbane.

All of this is comfort zone stuff. It's a place and time I know... this is great. This gets people pulled in and comfortable with who I am, where I'm from, what I love about my city and where I was born.

Now - BAM! - I get in and throw a curve ball and get you all wondering what in the hell I was smoking when I wrote that paragraph!

GOTCHA!

This is right where I can either keep you in this story or lose you in the next three sentences.

Yep, it's as easy as that!

With the comfort zone, a writer can't throw a really out-there uncomfortable thing at the readers and expect them to just swallow that huge massive blue pill (or red pill - I've forgotten which was which) and jump down the rabbit hole after that jittery white rabbit who's always late for whatever he's going for. 

Nope... ya gotta ease them readers into your stuff... otherwise they'll ease on down the road and throw your book as far as they can to get away from your work. 

Yes, you'll lose them; and you'll never get them back.

In my Flash Fiction, I find that sometimes getting people into an ordinary situation first is best... then throwing that curveball right at the end is what will keep them coming back for more. 

Then, you'll have more of a chance that your audience will adapt to other writing you've had a go at. 

The comfort zone is always a difficult thing to adapt your audience to. If you don't know how they'll react to your work when you've been writing comedy the whole time and then suddenly write a horror piece, you're better off trying out something which sounds like the movie 'House' (a horror comedy) and see how they take it. IF they enjoy the horror more than the comedy, that's when you jump and do more horror.

For me, I'm always trying out new writing styles. I've been able to pull off horror, comedy, sci-fi, paranormal, and now romance. I had to learn the last one from a few romance writers; I'm not really that great at writing romance... it's just not the first thing I write when it comes to fiction. It's really outside my comfort zone.

So, there ya go. The comfort zone in writing. I'm a writer and I have gone outside my comfort zone many times... and then I've been told by people I never go outside my comfort zone as a person - but really they don't know if I do or not. Until my next post, happy reading. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'A Hundred Small Lessons' by Ashley Hay

Elsie fell down. This sweet, lovely lady fell down and couldn't get back up, so spent a day or so on the floor of her living room watching the sun pass over the carpet; watching the colours of the day change and how the light changed throughout the house for a while - something she hadn't noticed before - until the police kicked down her door and the paramedics zoomed her off to hospital.

But she never came back home.

This was the sad part - and a sad reality for a lot of elderly people. They are taken to hospital; and from there, they are shuffled off to a home by their family; a family who think they're doing the right thing. 
While she's in the home, Elsie's two children, Don and Elaine empty out her house. Don is a sentimental man who often stops to peruse and remember the good times over photographs, wonder over others and packs things carefully. Elaine just goes through the place like a bull in a china shop and throws out things she doesn't think is important (whether it is or not doesn't interest her - just getting rid of the 'junk' is the main thing).

However, when Don takes the boxes of things to Elsie's new home, he discovers he's picked up the wrong one and finds that everything he's given her are things she hates. The blue mug that was on the counter near the sink was Elsie's favourite... and all the photos in the box in the ceiling (did he check there? No, he didn't) were the ones she loved the most. And why did he bring this vase? It's hideous. It was then, he realised he should have had her right there.

But the house has been sold to a lovely couple who are young: Lucy Kiss and her husband Ben, with their sweet little boy, Tom. While Ben is in his hometown of Brisbane, Lucy has found this humid city of large, purple-flowering trees is strange and unusual to her. She doesn't like it that it rains so much, she doesn't know her way around as much as she does in Sydney, and the old house they bought still has the old-fashioned fittings of the 1960's. 

Lucy is finding things from the life of Elsie, things she thinks the older woman would want back at some point; but she never gets around to contacting the previous owner. She starts drinking out the blue mug she found behind the front door (why was it there?). The photos in the ceiling were beautiful, but who were they of? And does she really like Brisbane really?


I've read Australian books before - even Brisbane-based books - and for a good part of the time, I've loved them. However, as the small chapters moved on, I found it harder and harder to read them. This is a very melancholy book to read - which isn't really my thing, but it's nice to get into one of them once in a while - but I found this book very depressing. It started off sounding lovely, sweet and pretty. It had all the right turns of phrase, and made me want to read more. Then, something in it change, and I found it was becoming harder and harder to read, and I simply lost interest in it. This is why this is an Unfinished Read. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff

Helene Hanff wrote a letter to, Marks & Co., a bookstore in London on Charing Cross Road in 1949 in the hopes to find a book she's been looking for; and in return received a wonderful copy of it in return. What she didn't realise was that this was the beginning of a wonderful, long-distance relationship with the people across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Over the next 20 years, Helene and Frank Doel write letters to each other about books, authors and they get to know each other through Christmas parcels and Easter goodies as well. Often, Helene is sending off money to keep her credit up to buy books of Frank at his lovely little bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road, in the middle of London. And in turn, Frank and his wife are writing back (sometimes in separate letters) to Helene who is living in a tiny townhouse - the only luxurious items in it are the books she purchases from across the miles. 

For quite a few years, Helene promises to fly to London to visit their fare city; and Frank and his wife offer to put her up while she's there. A few times, Helene comes close to flying there, but unfortunately, she's had to dip into her 'London Funds' to pay for something which she can't do without in her life, and sadly, she has to start over again in saving for the UK. 
Then, one day in 1969, Helene receives the sad news of Frank's sudden passing. Even though she's been in hospital and her doctors have only let her home, she is determine to get herself onto a plane to see London, to meet Frank's family and to see the lovely store where all her wonderful volumes of books came from - even though it's now closed down. But does she make it there? Is she healthy enough to make the trip there and back? 

This is a true story about Helene Hanff's relationship with the owner of Marks & Co Bookstore in London. Ms. Hanff published the correspondence between her and Frank Doel - and some of the staff of the store - as memorial to Frank after he passed away. 

Helene Hanff passed away in De Witt Nursing Home in Manhattan aged 80 on 9th, April, 1997 - only days before her 81st birthday.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Reading-less World

I've been noticing all around me over the past few years - and even within my habits as well - and it's not looking good.

Our world is becoming a reading-less world. 

As Human Beings, we are sitting on our butts more and looking at the blue glowing screens in our hands, on our desktops and we're being hypnotised by the internet to put down that lovely book which is sitting next to us and to jump on Twitter, SnapChat and other snap-happy sites and get our shot of quick happiness.

This is a bad thing to happen; and it's only going to become worse if we don't admit that we're all addicted to this.

I wrote a flash fiction on my other blog titled: 'Dear Participant' which is linked through to Terrible Minds blog of Chuck Wendig's and it struck a real nerve with a lot of my readers. Chuck told us to pick an uncertain evil and write about it - an evil that doesn't look like or feel like it's going to be anything harmful, but it it is. I picked the internet... and how! In the end of the piece I wrote, I have the internet telling us that we have sold our souls to - not the Devil - but to the internet, and we are its puppets.

And you know something? That piece of writing really spooked a lot of people - myself included. I'm not saying I'm not addicted: I am. But there are some days in the week where I have a tech-free day; usually it's on the weekend and I'll get my butt outside and into the garden to mow the lawn, clean up the weeds and then back into the house and wash the floors or declutter something. After I've done some good cleaning up of something (I like to have done something constructive and that I can see has been done around my place), I sit down in my Reading Chair and write in my journal, and read some of a book I'm currently reading. It's just nice to do that... I don't care how long I sit and read for, so long I get through my pages. 

This is something I don't always get to, but as much as I struggle with my new habit of reading as much as I can, I do publicly swear that I will get myself back into the habit of reading more books again. 

You have to go back on the sidebar and see that I used to read up to 30 books a year when I began this blog... and now? I've read 2. This is piddly... really piddly... and I am disgusted with myself. However, I'm making a promise to myself to get my nose into more of my books and to get in and read more - day and night - and keep away from this dreaded computer before bed!

So, have you noticed a drop in your reading stakes over the last few years? If so, how are you going to remedy it? You have read how I'm working on my addiction to the internet... now, it's your turn to make a promise to yourself and everyone here. Leave your comment below and let's get ourselves and everyone reading more again! Until my next post, happy reading!