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! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

'The Bee Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer

Meet Finch. He's a corporate drone who works on blogs about a product called 'Second Nature' - a type of plant life for customers where you don't have to care for them, water them or do anything to them, just have them as decoration; and yes, they're plastic. Pretty, but not much use. The customer can add flowers, wilting leaves and other such things to the plant as seasons change and enjoy the plants to the full extent without the mess of an actual house plant - but it will never die. Finch also manages a collection of blogs about other imaginary lives supporting Second Nature.

However, life isn't exactly right. He's in a small corner of the office where he's kept to himself and found that he'd been mostly ignored - or so he thinks. And it doesn't really come as a surprise to him when he's fired.

He goes home, and his world stops. He stops. He just lets everything go; and stops paying his bills, stops caring for himself and eventually gets himself evicted - but he doesn't do anything about himself until late one night, just before his internet is cut off, offering him the perfect job... and all he has to do is say 'yes' - and so he replies with that word, then goes to sleep.
The very next day, his life changes completely. A driver shows up at his door and he's driven away the city, away from the house an away from everything he's known for so long to a mansion on top of a mountain where he meets Mr. Crane, the man who owned the company he was fired from. This man wanted him for something very specific; and knew he'd be the right man for the job... oh, and could he start immediately? By the way, the pay is incredible! All Finch has to do is live in Mr. Crane's garden as a hermit for seven years. There are some conditions - of course - but they're not all that major. Does Finch take the job? 

This is a great book from a writer I hadn't heard of until I won it in a competition. But once I through the first few pages, I just couldn't put it down. This book is an amazing and thought-provoking walk through the garden of somebody's thought processes as they observe the world in a totally different way. Set in the present day, with technology all around, it's interesting to see how Finch reacts to going from having everything, then nothing. I don't think I'll let go of this book from my collections any time soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Winter Reading

Winter has finally come to Brisbane for the next few weeks - or days - and we've all broken out the winter woolies and have snuggled down in our duvets late at night reading books before we turn out the light (if we ever do!).

As for me, I've been busily editing two books and they're both going so well, I've simply forgotten to come and tell you guys about it all. 
The first book is a book filled with the Flash Fiction from around 2014. But it's not just any flash fiction. I've added on what the story really does finish like at the end - or I've filled it out more in the middle - so it either makes more sense, or makes you want to read more about it. This also makes my reader want to get onto my blog for flash fiction and compare the two to see which one they like better - the blog one I tossed up onto the internet after working on it for around fifteen minutes, or the edited one I worked on for two hours to make it sound more finished with all the spelling mistakes and grammar fixed. 

Then, I've been working on my NaNoWriMo book from last year titled: 'The Tour Guide'. This was initially a working title and it took on something of a life of its own after I started out on it; which is strange because usually I'll begin a piece of writing in this month of writing, and I'll absolutely hate it. Then, it'll grow on me very suddenly and I'll be right into it. So, the working title of 'The Tour Guide' became the title of it in the end. 
Well, I found this book on my tablet and started reading it when I wanted to know what was on my 'Notebooks' on the apps. Once I remembered that I wrote this, I realised I simply had to finish this book completely and make sure I got it published. So, I've been editing this book as well.

I've also been reading late at night before bed, instead of being on the internet. I find I'm sleeping better than if I'm on the computer for an hour. So, I'm up to the last two chapter of 'The Bee-Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer and I've just begun '84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff. The latter book is one of my all-time favourites I just simply love to read. It's not a huge thick book, but it's a charmingly sweet classic with its first letter starting on my birthday, but I'm not born in 1949. I love books set in a time without computers, without all the complications of the modern world. It helps me slow down with everything around me speeding up so much.

Well, that's what I've been doing for the past week. Editing and reading... at long last on the last one! So, what are you reading this Winter - or Summer, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere? How many books have you gotten read this year? I haven't gotten that many books read, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about books all the time. Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Been... well... Busy

I've been busy.
I've been sick.
I've been doing a lot of things lately.

There's been so much going on that I haven't had time to turn the calendar over in the kitchen - and yet I've turned the one over in the office upstairs. How weird is that? 

Well, I'm working hard on the first Flash Fiction book - and am around five stories from finishing it off. I can't wait to get it all finished up and sent off! It's going to look great! I just hope it sells!

Then, I can sit back for a bit and see how it goes.

Otherwise, I'll begin editing the second one quietly and slowly and it'll begin again - the late nights, the afternoons zipping by and the gallons of coffee I'll consume - to get the next book finished up and done. But it may take longer as I have written other books which really need looking at. There's 'Fry Nelson: Bounty Hunter' and 'Angel Love'... and of course 'Another Quick Read'. 

Did I bite off more than I can chew? Or is this just how I like it? Most probably the latter... I'll never know until I jump in feet first and see how the water is (or is the floor made of lava today?).

Otherwise, I've been skipping out on the computer late at night; opting to settle down in the comfort of my bed and reading until I drop off to sleep at around midnight. It's lovely, and warm, and I feel so much better when I can just slot in the bookmark and turn off the light instead of spending another half hour getting ready for bed... I'm already there, relaxed after an hour of reading.

Yep, the computer can wait late at night... after two or three hours of 'Supernatural' or 'That 70's Show' or Buffy' - all on dvd - as there's nothing really worth watching on free-to-air television anymore. I love losing myself in those worlds where nothing is real and yet fiction is better than real life.

Just like a book, right?

Yep, I've been... well... busy. Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reading Again...

I've cracked open a book again, but I've been reading at the late, late hours of the night. You see, I've caught Laryngitis - just like most of Brisbane has - and it's caused me to stay up late with the most dreadful cough!

So, right now, I'm reading 'The Haunted Bookshop' by Christopher Morley. I'm also reading a little of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy in Four Parts' by Douglas Adams. Both wonderful books and both printed at opposite ends of the same century. How weirdly strange is that for me to be reading these two books at the same time?

I'm also writing flash fiction and editing my flash fiction book as well - when I have the energy. Time isn't a factor anymore, seeing I have a huge amount of it on my hands now; it's energy. I'm so tired from the antibiotics and the coughing, I just seem to drop off to sleep the minute I sit down in one of my lounge chairs.

Oh well, can't beat 'em all. Well, until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Apologies

I haven't written much lately; and I really should be - as a writer, I normally have plenty to say.

However, I'm going through some depression over the past few weeks and it's really bothering me; particularly over the past few days. 

I haven't read any books this year - which is really unusual of me. I have bought books, but haven't read anything at all. I've started books, but didn't get past the second chapter. 
I'm editing my first flash fiction book, and that's going really well. And I think it's that which is holding me back from reading anything. 

I'm also attending art school, which is taking up a fair bit of my time - and I'm loving to bits as well! But because depression can be a really horrible thing for our minds, I'm not keeping quiet about it; simply because it can be a real killer for creatives. 

So, I'm putting it out there for you all to know: I suffer from depression. At times it is from the weather - but I love the colder times of the year; so it's not that. Mainly, it's where I live right now, the fact that I can't get a bank loan and that I'm financially stuck without much money to buy a house of my own or enough money to rent one from anyone else which is really getting me down.

I'm just hoping this passes soon and I'm myself again... I mean, I missed out on my favourite television program last night - 'Supernatural' - which I never miss. Yep, I'm really that bad I forgot to watch it at 9:30pm. Well, I am hoping to work on my depression and getting rid of it soon. Until my next post, happy reading. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Second-Hand vs Brand New

To me, a book is a book, no matter where it comes from. It tells me a story and I love the written word - but I'm very much a traditionalist and enjoy the textile feel and smell - the very scent and odour - of a real book in my hands. 

However to a lot of people, it's not a book unless the spine hasn't been cracked. And I for one don't understand why I should spend so much money on a book when a second-hand book is just as good as a brand new one - just a little more used and little older. 

So, seeing I buy a lot of my reading material at second-hand book stores and at markets, it made me wonder if where you get books makes a difference.

More often than not, I've seen garage sales filled with reading material which people have collected and found none of their family wants. And this also has me wondering what will happen to my collection as I age (and believe me, I'm getting to a point where I have to stop worrying about it). 

But really, as I wandered around the Vinnies and the Salvation Army stores at Stones Corner today here in Brisbane, I wondered quietly to myself: who donated these books, where did they come from and are some of these from a deceased estate? I found it kind of sad that these books will end up in landfill if they're not sold at these charity stores. 

So, does it make a difference if your books come from a charity store, second-hand store or book exchange or if you buy them brand new or online? Or is it all the same, so long you can read it? Until my next post, happy reading.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Book's Meaning

I was at my parents' house yesterday, flipping through 'Time and Again' by Jack Finney, while they were watching 'Silent Witness' on television. 

They had just spent a week away house sitting a gorgeous house and two just-as gorgeous border collies; and barely watched any television. Mum read her books, did some of jig-saw puzzle and walked around an impressive garden. However, the swimming pool wasn't touched; as it's becoming a little chilly to swim now.

But only days into being back at home, they're right back into their old routine of watching hours upon hours of television in the afternoons. Okay, they read for a few hours in the morning, but I worry about how much time they spend watching television when they have so much more in life they could be doing. 

Mum keeps on telling me she'd love to write a book about her life 'one day'. But she never gets started on it. I have been writing one; and it's not the easiest thing to write. Not everyone will like it, not everyone will agree with what you've written, and not everyone will be shown in the best light... but it's about my life not theirs. If they want to read about their lives, they can write a book about their life. 

I've just read an article about how precious books have become to us now; and how they change the way we think from year to year. I've been collecting books since I was 4 years old, when they used to be an escape for me. I was born with Epilepsy and so reading helped me escape the problems, doctor's appointments and complications that came with that condition. 
Now I'm older, I read for the pure enjoyment of the experience of the escape. There's nothing to escape from. Normally, if I can't find what I want to escape into, I start writing about it - as I'm a writer as well. There's nothing like the sheer joy of creating worlds of your very own from nothing but a blank page; and then perfecting it - taking the time to perfect it - and hoping it takes off at some point and getting it published. 

Books are - in essence - tiny universes between the covers of an author's imagination. It's not often a writer will tell you exactly what's on their mind, however, if you'd like to know what a writer is truly like, look at their book collection (and a writer who doesn't have a book collection - a physical book collection - is one to be suspicious of). I have a room filled to the brim with books of all kinds. And being an artist as well, I integrate books into my paintings and artworks to show how much I can't live without books in my life. 

So, what kinds of meanings do books have for you? Do you collect them to read a huge series like 'The Wheel of Time'? Or do you have a favourite author or two who you've been following since you were in high school? Or is it something you've had to do because you're studying to be in the sciences or something more complex? Until my next post, happy reading. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Month Is Almost Gone!

I'm so sorry I haven't been posting in here. But not much has been going on. I've been reading a few Flash Fictions - and also writing them as well. I wrote one about Easter and the Easter Egg Hunt in the past week; and I'll see if I can get in and write a few more on my blog to keep it active enough.

Then, I started editing more stories for my Flash Fiction book for the end of the year. This is exciting... some of the stories are really coming together. I can't wait to get them all into one PDF file and looking great!
But I've done this self-publishing thing before, though and it's very time-consuming. So, I hope it works out this time.

Anyway, I've been getting my nose into a book or two. There's 'The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy in Four Parts' by Douglas Adams and 'Good Reading Magazine' - this month's issue - which as had me glued to its pages. 

I'm also learning to work with oils in my paintings; and so I'm working on new paintings for my Book-Art exhibition I'm hoping to get into the Logan Artists Association in the next year - if they have space for what I have. I still have a long way to go in the Book-Art theme... but it's all working out. 

Otherwise, my book-collecting life is going well. I found a second edition copy of 'Roots' by Alex Haley from 1977 in hardcover. And I also found an fictional autobiography by Clive James. I'm looking forward to reading both these books in the future. Well, until my next post, happy reading!