Thursday, 31 March 2011

So, uh...what I read in primary school

I saw over on Bronwyn's blog that she's participating in the Road Trip Wednesday, and today's (well, yesterday's for me :P) theme is Back in the Day, i.e. What books were you obsessed with as a kid? She mentioned Goosebumps, and I left her this comment:

This is going to make me sound (and look) very old, and maybe that's because I AM old...but I still remember the days when "Goosebumps" were the new thing and I was like, "Eh, can't go past Point books!" :D R.L. Stine used to write Point books too, you see. ;) I still own heaps of those books and love them. There were Point thrillers, Point horrors, etc.

And I'm totally serious! I have a large part of one bookcase in my study dedicated to Point books and similar types of books. I see a website for Point books, but none of my old favourites are listed there that I can tell. I'm talking about authors like R. L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney, Diane Hoh (who went on to do the Nightmare Hall books), Richie Tankersley Cusick, etc. Some of my favourites included Funhouse, The Fever, The Lifeguard, Trick or Treat, and this one about a ski trip whose title I can't remember.

I'm not sure what it was about these books that got me exactly, but I think it must have been the fact that in almost every book there was at least one sexy guy I could develop a crush on, and of course a lot of action to keep me hooked. I haven't read any of these in a while, but the truth is I can still go back and re-read them and enjoy them. Of course, nowadays I'd go, "Wow, that dialogue sucks, I could make it so much more real than that!" and yet I still love the reads.

So yeah, I guess I just felt compelled to write about these books after seeing Bronwyn's mention of the not-quite-so-old-skool series Goosebumps. Hehe.

P.S. I also read The Babysitter's Club, but let's not go there...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

When I Actually Write A Book, You Will Be Acknowledged Blogfest

Before I get onto the actual Blogfest, I want to mention that I have another query, this time for SQUEAKY, featured on Evil Editor right now. Check it out.

Now...onto the business at hand!

Oh my GOSH. The last blogfest of the month is here! It's been a completely crazy month, and I'm sort of relieved it's over. But it's been heaps of fun participating in all these cool blogfests and meeting new people along the way. And maybe it'll make A-Z seem like peanuts! :D

By March 30 (which is in 12) days, write an acknowledgement blurb for 12 people, with 12 reasons. But not just ANY twelve people:
  • 3 people you know IRL.
  • 3 people you know online.
  • 1 person who has died.
  • 1 person you never met.
  • 1 person you met once.
  • 1 couple (so, 2 people).
  • 1 author.
The Blue Lipstick Samurai

So, here is my acknowledgement (for all the writing I've done so far):

I wish to acknowledge...
  • My mother, Leigh, who is totally awesome and has always encouraged me in all of my creative endeavours
  • My father, Lester, whose quirky creativity has inspired me in my life, and whose individuality makes him the most interesting person in my life
  • My former colleague Julia who helped me come up with more and more ridiculous ideas for Squeaky, and was in fact present when Squeaky first came to life
  • My dear friend Kelly, who enthusiastically read my rock star romance and, like a good and biased friend would, told me all the things I wanted to hear
  • My critiquing partners Jenn and Winter for their enthusiasm and their help with making my works better
  • My mother's mother, who I never met, but who has my name - Patricia - and helped to make my mother the amazing person she is, and therefore had an indirect influence on me too
  • That Dutch guy I met while backpacking - man he was sexy! He gave me great quotes to use in my travel memoirs, and made me laugh at the time too
  • Bill and Joni, my dear friends who always give me a place to stay when I'm in L.A., and are highly encouraging of all my creative endeavours
  • And finally, author Ian Livingstone (and is co-author Carl Sargent, and their little Zagor series) for inspiring me to start my first ever fantasy novel, which grew into a huge monster and is still not finished.

Okay, all done. :D

Now I am going to run around screaming in excitement that March is over. Heh.

P.S. Prompt #13 is up on Chrysalis, and we have two new members!! I plan on doing a shoutout post for all our participants here sometime soon. :) Maybe for C in the A-Z!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Goals update, and A-Z Blogging Challenge

I want to revisit the Goals I set for this year, as seen on my Goals 2011 page. There are different categories but I'm focusing on the ones I will achieve this year.

  1. Finish current edit of SUNDOWN and order proof copy - this was achieved early on in the year
  2. Finish latest edit of SUNDOWN (then look for a beta-reader!) - ongoing, as I recently went on about at length. And I should change that to beta-reader(s)
  3. Win NaNoEdMo 2011 - my original aim was to edit FIRE, then that goal changed to editing DAPHNE, and then I thought, Oh whatever, just edit! So for the entire month to date I have been editing SUNDOWN, and I finally achieved 50 hours of editing a day ago. So that's another goal struck off the list
  4. Write 52 short stories, one per week, for the Chrysalis Experiment - weeks 1-12 are done, now I'm waiting on week 13 to begin!
  5. Write at least once a week in the blog - ha. I've been over-achieving here, what with all those blogfests!
  6. Win NaNoWriMo 2011 - obviously I can't do this yet ;)
  7. Finish off first draft of STORM - I did some of this early in the year but haven't revisited it since becoming obsessed by SUNDOWN revisions
  8. Complete a preliminary read-through/edit of NAUSICAA - I've done work on chapter 1, but nothing since early March
  9. Read more than 21 books (goal is 25) in 2011 - currently I have read 10, and am on my 11th
  10. Participate in A'vron's Book Club : Classics, reading 1 classic novel per month for 2011 - so far we've done 2 months, and I've participated in both.

In other words, I'm well on track with my goals!

In other news, I reformatted all my labels. What does this say about me? It says I'm a total weirdo! But I think those who have been reading for a while already got this sense. Hehe. Anyway, it's easier to figure out which labels are for my novels, because they're the ones in caps. The exception being ABNA, which of course is not my novel. I also combined the formerly separate labels for movies and TV into one label (TV and Movies), and discovered you can't put an ampersand in your labels. D'oh! I also got rid of the highly redundant "writing" tag. Um, yeah, most of it's about writing so... ;)

The A-Z is coming up, and I haven't planned a thing. But why would I, a natural pantser, plan out such things? I haven't planned out the majority of my blogfests either. I guess I prefer to go where the mood takes me on any given day! Should make for a fun month!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Lost & Found Blogfest

Yep, another blogfest coming your way! This week the Lost and Found Blogfest, hosted by Myne Whitman, is happening.

The requirements of this blogfest are as follows:

"From March 25 - 31, post a blog telling me about anything you've ever lost and found, an object, a person, an idea, anything! The same week, visit two other blogs in the list, read their entries, and leave comments." - Myne Whitman

So, here I go with talking about something I lost, then found!

Okay, this isn't really my story, but I was there when it happened. In 1998 my dad and I were travelling in the U.S.A., and when you're travelling with my dad you know there's going to be adventure. You also know you're not going to be able to enjoy the sorts of comforts most people will attempt to enjoy while travelling. For instance, sleeping in an actual bed at night, instead of in a car seat or outdoors. Well, by the time we got to Wyoming, we were still having fun, but things were about to get pretty crappy.

  1. Dad lost his wallet somewhere.
  2. My bank card stopped working, and I soon figured out it had expired in the future (i.e. Australia), and was not going to work. I would have a new one waiting for me back in L.A., but we were a long way from L.A. at that stage.
  3. My mum's credit card, which she'd given me for emergencies, didn't work either - we couldn't get any money out of it, or use it for any transactions.

In short, we had to survive (and get ourselves back to L.A. somehow) on the little money we already had on us. And considering the cash Dad had had was in his lost wallet, that meant we were relying on my cash.

We dropped our Driveaway Car off and headed down the coast. How, you ask? We had no money! Well, that's another thing about my dad - you tend to end up hitchhiking if you're travelling with him. Just this year when he was heading for my brother's wedding in Canada, he opted to forgo using his plane ticket, preferring to hitchhike for the adventure of the thing. So yes, some things will never change, Dad being one of those things.

Anyway, back to 1998. We finally made it to San Francisco, where my second cousin was getting married the next day. We'd been invited to the wedding. By the time our last ride dropped us off, outside San Fran, we barely had enough money to get ourselves into the city centre. And that night, with no money and only a hunk of moldy cheese for company, we found ourselves a cosy homeless shelter to sleep in. That thin foam mat and scratchy blanket really brought my seventeen-year-old self a lot of comfort, I must say. But hey, at least we weren't sleeping in an alleyway.

The next morning we spent our last few coins on a bus ticket, and wound up somehow getting another bus for free (this part is cloudy for me). Then we hitchhiked again, this time with a very kind African American man who drove a black jaguar. While he took us up to the wedding (it was very nice of him to go out of his way like he did) he told us about his son who played baseball or something, and we got a feel for how proud he was of him. He dropped us off pretending to be a chauffeur by opening our doors for us. The sister of the bride later commented on how impressed she was by that black jaguar (never mind that she's wealthy and could own 50 of those if she wanted).

I was seventeen and embarrassed at having no nice clothes to wear. I also felt dirty, having not had a shower that morning. So yeah, ensue angst. But in hindsight the whole story was pretty hilarious. That night we stayed in a 5 star hotel thanks to our generous relatives.

But what is it we lost and then found, you ask? Well, months later by the time my dad got home to Australia (he travelled longer than I did, as I wound up having an emotional breakdown and flew home early), what did he find waiting for him?! His wallet! With everything still in it, including the cash, mind you. So I thought that was pretty fancy, and I was very impressed with the people/person of Wyoming, U.S.A., who did such a kind thing!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Nature of Magic Blogfest

Yes, at last I am posting, and here is what this blogfest is all about:

"Write or share something you've already written that, to you, shows the nature of magic. It can be an excerpt from your WIP, something you've written especially, poetry, whatever strikes your fancy. It just needs to show the nature of magic as it exists for you or for those you write about." - Tessa Conte

Here's my entry, taken from my epic fantasy novel that may or may not someday be finished. For now it is an epic mess, but it holds sentimental value since I started writing it when I was about 14. Hehe. It's undergone some serious changes since it began, but is something illustrating the nature of one particular type of magic present in my novel. Please note that it's barely edited.

"Callihroe, what happened?" she asked the stricken woman.

Callihroe's face lifted. "I betrayed my own people. I ignored the laws that have stood for centuries past. I ripped myself from my own race. I have no home."

It was a little unsettling how calmly she spoke. She almost sounded as if she did not care what she was saying.

"You also saved our lives, Callihroe. And no doubt a lot of other lives that would have been taken, too. But…tell me, how did you do it?" Thaixha asked curiously.

The snow woman shuddered. "I used the Bowfynntine." Briseis looked up sharply and walked over to stand before her as she murmured, "I am as good as dead now."

"You know the Bowfynntine?" Briseis demanded. "You know how to work it?" It was a foolish question, of course—she'd just witnessed Callihroe's knowledge with her own eyes. Still, the snow woman nodded.

"How?" Briseis asked urgently.
Callihroe shook her head tiredly. "I am as good as dead," she whispered.

Briseis sighed. "How?"
Thaixha pulled her away. "Briseis, stop it. She is upset," the Foranden said. Briseis looked away in frustration.

"What is the Bowfynntine?" Kilian spoke up from behind them. His sword was still gripped firmly in his right hand.

Callihroe turned slowly to face him. "A forbidden magic that was used in the old world. It is forbidden because of how it works. Because of the materials that are used to make it work."

"What materials would these be?" Krandak asked.

Callihroe hesitated, then stood up and waited for her head to stop spinning. She walked to one of the stone walls and placed her hands on the cool surface. Then she turned around again so that she was facing everyone.

"Souls. Souls that have been trapped within this stone for as long as my people have been dying. You see, when we die, there are a few ways we can go—and this is one of them. Those sent here are sentenced to an afterlife within these walls. I can feel the plight of the spirits here. And now, I feel their anger. They would kill if they could." She shook her head. "I can never outrun this. Someday, when my time comes, I will wind up here. And then they will have their way."

Saturday, 26 March 2011

WIP update time

Well, it's been a while, so I thought I'd talk about how I've been going with my revisions. I tend to focus a lot on word count, so let's start there.

There was a lovely moment when I was pretty much into the 103k numbers (considering I've been coming down from 147k, this is a serious achievement). My current goal is to get to 95k or less. But right now I'm back up to about 105k. Well, technically it's 105,754 in Scrivener, but in Word it'll be closer to a flat 105k. I've had depressing moments as the word count again began to climb, but it's all for the greater good.

I've added a scene, and I've rewritten a whole bunch of other scenes. I'm happier and happier with the manuscript, though I'm only about a third of the way through with this round of edits. I keep getting stuck on earlier chapters, namely when I think I'm done with a chapter only to decide last minute that I want to do just one more read through, just one!! before moving onto the next chapter. Sometimes I even go back a few chapters and start from there. Still, I'm slowly but surely making progress.

There have been other things getting in the way of my editing, such as:

  • Blogfests
  • Work
  • Social/family commitments
  • Procrastination

Okay, so that last one isn't really a valid "can't do anything about it!" excuse, but it's a part of my life that I never try to deny. I procrastinate, and I am fine with the fact. I would go insane if I didn't procrastinate sometimes. But I'm not so Zen about everything else, namely the climbing word count.

On the upside, I met some new folks over at Write-Brained who are in the same boat, so we've all been there to commiserate with each other. Some of those folks are suffering from my problem. Others have the opposite problem - that of too few words. I've never had a problem with too few words. Whether I'm writing an essay or a story, I will always end up with too many words. And this realisation has led me in recent times to begin stripping my writing of all needless excess. The result has been that sometimes I've stripped too much out, so that there isn't enough information in what's left. This of course leads to reader befuddlement. So, I haven't got the balance right yet, but for now I'm still focusing on that stripping out, and I'll get to the adding back in later, when I'm confident I can do so without bloviating overly (yep, still like to use that word occasionally :D).

SO, my current plan:

  1. Finish stripping extraneous crap
  2. Implement edits as per advice from ElitistCritiques comrades
  3. Print out the manuscript and do a paper edit
  4. Find some beta readers who want to read about rock stars and romance, and send them whatever the heck's left of my story
  5. Wait with sickeningly swishing stomach for return of crits from said betas.

And that about sums it up.

Lovely Blogger Award - woo!

I've envied (yes, I have envied) other bloggers for winning this award, and I've daydreamed of winning it myself. There were opportunities, as I told Brooke R. Busse (the very lovely chicky who finally made my dreams come true :D), where bloggers had said, "Hey, if you want it, take it!" but it just didn't feel right to me to take it on those occasions. I felt the compulsion to wait till I'd been singled out and specifically chosen. :) Now that I have been, I humbly (oh so humbly!) accept.

Of course, I don't get it entirely for free. There are some things I have to do:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. - Done! But I also want to add, thanks Brooke! :D
  2. Pay it forward to some other blogs you have newly discovered. (will do below)
  3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen. (will do once I've posted this blog entry)
Now, it was kind of tricky figuring out which bloggers to pass the award onto. Lately I've met a LOT of lovely people, and it wasn't easy narrowing it down. But without further ado, these people are very lovely indeed who haven't yet won this award, OR haven't posted a previous award on their blog yet. These people are all lovely and in some cases not very well known bloggers and I am happy to be drawing attention to them today!

  1. Akoss @ Fantasy Pen
  2. Sheery @ Sheery's Place
  3. Chris K @ the Kelworth Files
  4. Shayda Bakhshi
  5. Charlotte Jane Ivory
  6. Joanne @ Whole Latte Life
  7. Cheyanne with an A
  8. Jenni Merritt
  9. Sari Webb
  10. Margo Kelly
  11. Jess @ Falling Leaflets
  12. Michael @ Writer with a slinky

In other news, I want to mention that I got spotlighted in Chris K's blog. Thank you Chris for the attention - I am a bit of an attention ho after all, and basked in this for quite a while. :D I want to reiterate that I was also interviewed (by Sari Webb) over here. Yep, more attention ho action for me!!

I also want to mention that one of those things I won arrived in the mail the other day. It's a book called Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and is by Sofie Kelly. I won this from Lynn Viehl at Paperback Writer, so thanks Lynn for the lovely book! Oh, and she also sent me a very pretty bookmark! Currently I'm reading Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino (which is pretty amazing so far, by the way!), but as soon as I'm done with that I'm going to immerse myself in kitty magic (I do so love myself a feline friend).

And because this appears to be shaping up as something of a photo entry, here are some photos of my (newly acquired) bass guitar, and my (not newly acquired) guitar guitar:

Just one final note, about the Lost & Found blogfest. I will do this, but since we have so long to post our entries, I'm in no particular rush. This is a nice, carefree way to end the March madness! And I would like to thank all the people who hosted blogfests this month, for giving me so many fun things to do! I've had a great month!

And, if you're a Crusader and still haven't done the latest Challenge, check it out here!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Paint it Purple Blogfest

Woot! Yep, time for another Blogfest, hosted by Erin Kane Spock. This one will be fuuuun. Hehehehehehe. This is what's required:

The premise:
1) Post a short segment (a paragraph or two, really no more than 100 words) of your work-in-progess.

2) Paint it purple with enough metaphors, similes, and poetry to gag the most die hard beatnik. This version is sure to be much longer than you original work (hence the word limit for the first selection). Feel free to run wild, spitting in the face of good taste, genre norms, and Occam's razor. - Erin Kane Spock

So, without further ado, here's my less-than-100-word excerpt:

Jared turned the car off and twisted to face me. "Are you all right?"

I might've laughed, if I'd been able. "Not particularly."

"I'm sorry."

Anguish threatened to choke me, but I still managed to speak. Even if I couldn't look at him. "Don't be. It's not your fault. I'll be fine." A hesitation, and then, "I hope you are too. I…apologise. So, so much. I'm the biggest idiot. And disrespectful."


"Thank you for the ride," I blurted, and opened the door without looking back.

And here's my sickeningly extravagant rewrite!

Jared sighed, hung his head and turned the key in the ignition, stilling the car's motor. He was like a silent mysterious mountain beside me, looming. With a mysteriously blank expression on his face, he twisted to face me. His movements seemed to me as those of a man moving underwater. After a brief hesitation he murmured, "Are you...all right?"

I looked anywhere but at him. I feared what would happen if I met that stunning gaze. I might lose my wits entirely and throw myself on him. Again. And that would just be the icing on the cake. It would make things even worse than they were already. As for his question, well, I might've laughed, if I'd been able. As it was, all I could bring myself to say was, "Not particularly."

His gaze bored into me, making it hard for me to breathe. My anguish was a stormy black cloud overhead, threatening to rain on me. I didn't like rain--it ruined my hair. "I'm sorry," he said. There was no feeling in his voice, and I wanted to rage at him to feel
something. Maybe even to confess his undying love. Yeah, that wouldn't have been too bad.

That same stormy anguish that hung over my head now threatened to choke me. But still I managed to release some words. Even if they weren't the words I dearly longed to say. The words I wished he would hear without me having to speak them. Why the hell wasn't he a mind reader?! Even as I spoke, I couldn't look at him.

"Don't be. It's not your fault. I'll be fine." I hesitated, and the silence between us was louder than those stormy thunderclouds...errr, thundery stormclouds that hung over our heads. My clouded, confused head. I added, "I hope you are too. I cannot apologise enough. Please accept my apology, and know that I never meant to ruin things. I'm so sorry. So, so sorry. I'm the biggest idiot. And disrespectful."

I sighed a shuddery sigh and sagged forward, having drained myself of all energy.

He was still staring at me, his gaze like shackles holding me prisoner, even though I refused, for my own preservation, to meet it. I thought I sensed his longing as well. But then, maybe that was just wishful thinking. The wishful thinking of the biggest fool I'd ever known. Myself.

"Louise…" he barely whispered. I could almost imagine his hand reaching out to me--but it wasn't. He sat still in his seat. As still as that mysterious mountain.

I clenched my jaw and hardened my heart. I shouted in my head, shouted at the storm to leave me be.
Go away, storm! Leave me be!

Then I cried with a flourish of my hands, "Thank you for the ride!" and turned dramatically toward the car door, opening it without a backward glance.

P.S. I got interviewed HERE, thanks to Sari Webb! :D Well, thanks to the contest I won on her blog, really. But it was fun. :)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

200 followers contest - WINNERS

Hi all. I had a little competition running until yesterday, and I have just found the winners via (thanks to whoever first introduced me to this site, it's cool! :D). To remind yourself what the prizes were, click HERE.

Anway, the winners were:

So, guys, it's time to email me with the following info:

  • Nina, I need your email address to send you the gift card.
  • Chris, send me your mailing address if applicable, or else the thing you want critiqued.
  • Michael, send me what you want critiqued :)

Thanks to everyone who participated in my first contest EVAR. I'm not sure when the next one will happen. It may be a while. Hehe.

I also want to mention that I received one of the prizes I won lately in the mail, a book from Lynn Viehl (as well as a lovely bookmark!). But I will be writing properly about that later. :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Music Spotlight - Love Outside Andromeda

One morning last week as I drove to work, I (as usual) had my iPod plugged into my car stereo, and I was listening to a song by Love Outside Andromeda, an Australian alternative/indie rock band. I found myself thinking, while listening to the song, How could she have ever recorded this without bawling the whole way through? Because it is such a beautiful, emotive song, and every time I hear it I want to cry.

The song was called "Past Tense (But A Prayer Nonetheless)", and there's a video of a live version here on YouTube, which really doesn't do justice to the studio version.

I often find myself thinking this about LOA's work, but never before have I written about it! Here I am doing so now, and I thought maybe I'd make this the start of a bit of a series (but with no actual schedule, because I have more than enough schedules in my life and I'd need to put this one in my Outlook calendar too, if I was going to remember it). Maybe this will end up being the only entry I ever do in this so-called series, or maybe not. Only time will tell. For now, a little bit of info about LOA, or Love Outside Andromeda, a great and little-known Aussie band.

The band is led by Sianna Lee, who has recently launched her solo career with a debut album. I've only heard one song from that, but I have both of LOA's albums and they are amongst my favourites for sure. You can see all LOA's releases here.

I think Sianna Lee is a great songwriter, and maybe she doesn't have the most phenomenal voice in the world but there's something real about her vocals that I really love. The band's debut album, self-titled Love Outside Andromeda, is full of great songs that would have made excellent singles. The opening track "Tongue Like A Tether" is a real rocker, but the album also features quiet beauties like "If You Really Want So Little From Me" and the magnificent "Boxcutter, Baby". It's a fabulous album for lovers of alternative rock, and I highly recommend it. The band's follow-up effort, Longing Was A Safe Place To Hide, was maybe a little less commercially viable, though I think "Measuring Tape" should have been a smash hit. The song I was listening to in my car that morning was from this second album.

You can buy their work from their website (where you can see how ridiculously expensive CDs, like books, are in Australia), or else on iTunes. I'd recommend Amazon, but I just checked it out and the only copies I see on there are even more expensive imports.

And finally, because I am, here is LOA's page on that site. :D

P.S. The reaction I had to this song, and that I have to other songs in a similar way, made me think about those writers who cry while writing particularly harrowing scenes. So far I haven't ever been one of those writers, but I can totally imagine how it would be that way for some.

P.P.S. Just editing to add that right now, LOA are at #29 on my charts, with 448 listens.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Crusader Challenge TWO!

Okay, so I'm finally getting around to posting my entry for the 2nd Crusader challenge (click on the picture above for more info!). The instructions were:

"Write a flash fiction story (in any format) in 100 words or less, excluding the title. Begin the story with the words, “The goldfish bowl teetered” These four words will be included in the word count." - Rachael Harrie

And here is my entry, which Word tells me is exactly 100 words!

The goldfish bowl teetered in Ashley’s mind, and she drew a sharp breath and waited.

“What’s with you?” Don frowned, leaning close to peer into her face.

“My life’s about to shatter,” she whispered. “The goldfish bowl is gonna fall, and the goldfish will flop around on the floor. I don’t know if I’ll get to it in time.”

Donald’s eyes widened. “What goldfish bowl?”

“The goldfish bowl of my life.”

After a brief hesitation, Donald got to his feet, backing slowly away. “Hey...on second thoughts, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea...”

And he walked out, ending the date.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Show Me The Voice Blogfest (now with revised version)

So, it's time for another Blogfest! I almost feel like it's been weeks since my last one. Haha. I guess that little two-day break was kind of nice.'s Blogfest is the Show Me Your Voice Blogfest, hosted by Brenda Drake and judged by agent Natalie Fischer! Awesome, no?

I really struggled with which opening to use, and then in the end I decided to use one for my first ever NaNo novel, which novel is a laughable (in a good way, I think. :D) mess and which I never really expected to be editing, but have just done a bit of editing on today for this blogfest! Wow! Hehe.

Anyway...this story is set in "the future", in Australia, but an Australia where not much has changed. Just place names, and state lines, and things like that. And the mysterious "whales". I've got a host of completely wacky characters in this. I think this novel is the epitome of a Pantser's dream. I sat down without even knowing my character's name, or what the hell she was going to be getting up to (didn't even know she was a she until I had written my first sentence). It was probably the most liberating experience of my life, writing this novel. Because I honestly rarely had any clue what was coming next, even as I wrote each sentence. BUT, as you can imagine, this is a good way of making a total mess of a novel. Still, it is finished and I think it's kind of funny in parts. I think the beginning is a bit ordinary, but maybe it can get better.

Revised version:

One ordinary Tuesday in 2016, Anjilian Craig walked down her garden path for the very last time. Looking back later, she gave herself a fair bit of credit, figuring she must have known somehow that her life was about to change. Surely she’d sensed that something unexpected was about to happen.

Leaving home that morning, Anjilian already knew she was an odd girl. But she felt herself getting odder by the minute. Some oddities were permanent—her magenta-coloured mouth, for instance, which she’d had tattooed a couple of years back. Other things were more transient, like her carrot-coloured hair—she was a natural brunette. But the oddities of her mind were the most notable of all. And perhaps they explain why, instead of leaving the train at Boris Street Station and heading for the flower shop where she worked, Anjilian kept her seat and rode on. Right to the end of the line.

As if that weren’t unexpected enough, next there was the airport, and the purchase of a plane ticket. As the transaction went through, Anjilian’s index finger began to vibrate—her padphone buzzing with an incoming call. It was her boss at the flower shop.
I’ll call you later, she sent to the woman with psychic mindwaves, then shut her phone off.

An hour and a half later, she boarded the plane, wondering what the hell she was doing there. But then she decided unpredictability was half of life’s fun.

On the plane, she sat with a weirdo and a fat man.

And without further ado, here it is, my first 250 (less, actually) words.

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2016, Anjilian Craig left her home at 8:30 in the morning, never to return. At the time she had no clue that walking down the garden path would be a thing of the past. But looking back later, she gave herself more credit, figuring she must somehow have sensed things about to change—that her life would never be the same. She'd felt restless for weeks, and it had been inevitable that something would happen.

When she left home that morning, Anjilian was an odd girl. She'd been odd for a fair few days by then, but she felt herself getting odder by the hour. Some oddities were permanent—her tattooed mouth, for example; it was a rich magenta colour. Other things she could easily have changed, like her dyed carrot-coloured hair—she was a natural brunette. But the oddities of her mind were the most fundamental to her character. And perhaps they explain why, instead of getting off the train at Boris Street Station and heading for the flower shop where she worked, Anjilian instead kept her seat and rode the rest of the line.

That particular railway line ends at the airport, and there Anjilian bought herself a plane ticket. She was heading for another state, and even as the transaction went through, she got the distinct feeling the move would be permanent.

Our story only really begins on the plane, where Anjilian sat with the weirdo and the fat man.

P.S. Followers, don't forget to enter my 200 followers contest! There are some cool prizes if I do say so. :D

Friday, 18 March 2011

200 followers, contests, and critiquing buddies

WOW. I bet it's as hard for you to believe this isn't a Blogfest as it is for me. ;) If you check out my Blogfests page and scroll down a little, you'll see how insane March has been for me so far. And it's not even over yet!! I signed up for yet another Blogfest today, and I already had another couple happening in the rest of March. I figured I may as well go completely nuts for the entire month - instead of just going most of the way. :)

Okay, moving on. I have over 200 followers!! This is pretty cool, and I know it's the done thing to do contests and the like. But I'm not a contest-y sort of person, as in organising them. Still, I'd feel guilty if I didn't, because everyone else does, so I figured I could at least figure out a few prizes to give away to my followers.

  • 1st: $20 Amazon giftcard
  • 2nd: Your choice of a 1st page AND query critique (any genre)


    one of the following books:

    John Marsden'sTomorrow, When the War Began - book 1 in a totally awesome Young Adult series, which was recently made into a motion picture (which I haven't seen). This series was BIG in Australia. Biiiiiig. Adults and kids loved it. And anyone in between.
    Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn (book 1). Isobelle is an Australian fantasy author. My favourite book (and series) of hers, the Legendsong, wasn't available, and I haven't actually read the Obernewtyn series but I get the impression it's pretty cool! She started writing it at age 14 or so, I believe.

  • 3rd: Your choice of a query or 1st page critique (any genre, and no I don't have a creative writing degree...but I am a trigger-happy grammar Nazi! Yay!)

NB: The books are only available if Book Depository ships to your country. Check the list here.

To enter the contest, simply leave a comment here. Also, if you want to blog about the contest, you get an extra entry. And now I feel like a blog ho for trying to get more attention. But you know, I'm just trying to fit in. Hehe.

Just kidding. I seriously want to thank everyone who's followed my blog so far. I haven't said it before, even when I passed the 100 mark, or even the 50 mark, but I really do love hearing from you guys and also checking out your blogs (where it's possible, i.e. you have your blog linked from your profile). This is a great community we've got, and I love that a writer can find so much support and inspiration from her brethren scattered far and wide around the globe!

Oh, and the contest will end by March 23, my time (that being Australian WST).

Anyway, moving on. I want to mention the YAtopia Agent Pitch Contest, for which you can submit your YA or children's two-sentence pitch and go into the draw to win an impossibly awesome prize. Click on the link to find out more! Very awesome opportunity indeed!

To end this entry, I want to say that I love my critiquing buddies. Jenn right now is helping me hash out some refinements to my SUNDOWN plot, and she has introduced some excellent possibilities. She is always ready to offer her extremely "out there" (usually hilarious) interpretations of where a plot could go, and already she's helped me a lot (and made me laugh a hell of a lot...I mean, last night I was standing in the middle of a frenzied punk rock concert just laughing, because I was thinking of the idea Jenn came up with for one of my minor characters). So I guess this is a shoutout to my critiquing buddies who are awesome, and also to CPs in general because they are totally groovy in general!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

(2nd) Drunk At First Sight Blogfest

OMG!!! Yet another Blogfest. It's kind of exciting that I have a few days' break after this one. But I signed up, and I couldn't resist going ahead with it. Click on the picture. Go on, I dare ya!

The requirements of this delightful one are:

2) Write a new scene or short story, or dust off an old one, about a love/relationship/situation that also includes one or more of the following elements:

---St. Paddy's Day as important event or setting
---Use of Ireland or anything Irish as a setting or prop
---An alcohol related event (party, hangover, cocktails, AA meeting, etc.)

3) Just prior to March 17th (St. Pat's Day), post said story to your blog.

4) On St. Paddy's Day, cruise around the interwebs, drink in hand, and check out everybody's amazing fiction.

I've chosen to share a pre-written scene (which I have only barely edited, and is mostly a rough draft) from one of the SUNDOWN novels. It fits the third option, an alcohol-related event. It's from my rock star princess's point of view (not the MC from book 1 whose heartache you saw in a recent blogfest), and I just love the scenes between her and Danny. Though this one isn't nearly my favourite.

I opened the bathroom door, thinking that maybe now I could call Jared and get away with most of my pride in tact, but before I could take another step, I saw him in the doorway, Danny, his arms full of paper bags from which tantalising smells were rising. He smiled at me in delight, but the smile slowly faded as he took in my appearance.

“You look terrible,” he said softly.

I wanted to slap him, but it would’ve hurt my head too much. I just glared. “Gee, thanks.”

“I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant…you look like you’re sick.”

I am fucking sick, you moron! I would have dearly loved to yell, but my tender state disallowed it.

“Here,” he said, shuffling into the kitchen and dumping the bags of whatever food he’d bought in there. He hastened back to me and put his hands on my arms—his warm, dry, strong hands. The work those hands had done last night… I shivered, and it hurt my head. My stomach, too. I would have glared if that wouldn’t have caused me more pain.

“Why don’t you lie down?” he said gently. “I don’t think you got enough sleep.”

“I’m in danger of vomiting everywhere,” I warned him grumpily.

He just smiled and leaned in to kiss my cheek, infuriating me but not sufficiently that I could summon the strength to throw his hands off. “Come on,” he murmured, and I absolutely hated that I loved the sound of that voice—rich, deep, rumbling. He knew how to growl with that voice, too.

I blocked out memories that were far more tantalising than even the scents coming from the kitchen and closed my eyes as he led me towards the bed. In spite of the fact that I couldn’t see where I was going and that he had two left feet that made even walking down the street a challenge for him, he managed to get me back to the bed without bumping me into anything. He also kept his own feet, a miracle in itself.

“Lie down here. Is your head all right?”

“It kills,” I told him in a self-pitying whimper, and he crooned sympathy and stroked my face, making me shiver again. I didn’t want to shiver, damn it! Shivering hurt!

“Lie down. Just lie down and sleep.”

I sank onto the bed, and somehow it felt nearly as comfortable as the bed back in my executive suite. I wondered how that could be, when last night and even this morning it had felt so lumpy and…inferior.

“Sleep, love,” his voice murmured, and it was already sounding much further away than expected. Love? “You just sleep now. Relax. You can relax.”

And it seemed he wasn’t lying. I could and did relax, and in moments I was gone.

And now I must dash, for I am seeing Unwritten Law tonight! Woo!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hone Your Skills Blogfest!

blogfest?! Why yes, since you asked. Today it's time for the Hone Your Skills Blogfest, hosted by RosieC and Charity Bradford (click the picture above to find out more)!

The blogfests requires the following of participants:

  1. On March 16, post a short story around 750 words, no more than 1000, in any genre you like.
  2. Read and give a critique for the person before and after you in the Linky List (and as many others as you can/want to). When you critique: a) find at least two things that really work, and b) at least two suggestions for how it can be tightened or improved.
  3. (Optional) When you post on March 16, list one or two (online) journals where you plan to submit your piece after making revisions. - RosieC

For my story's genre, I'm really not sure - maybe you can be the judge! I don't think I will ever seek publication for this. I just consider it another writing exercise. And I do love to practice accepting horribly brutal critique with good grace. :D So have at it!

Oh, and the word count is 761, according to Word (p.s. It was originally posted here on my FictionPress account).
Newsreaders' Blues

Asynja Dharmo tried not to grind her teeth, but her efforts were in vain for the most part. She had been trying for the entire morning since her alarm went off in her ear to keep her cool, yet it seemed the early mornings, the lack of pay raise, the snooty attitudes of her co-workers and her lack of a photocopy girl to bring her coffee in the studio were all adding up against her. She had had it up to here.

"Synje, you're on in ten," Mark called from his spot beside Carlotta – oh, he thought he was so damn important. He was trying to get in her good graces after last week's debacle. Asynja thought snidely – and happily – that he wasn't making much progress at all. I hope he rots in the back of her paddy wagon, she thought as she purposefully ignored his comment. As if I didn't know I was on in ten, you fucking moron.

The last few minutes always went by slowly, and also as usual they brought Asynja's stress levels through the roof. At least she had her welcoming smile firmly plastered on – and from their seats on the couches in their living rooms, viewers wouldn't notice the sheen of sweat that coated her forehead. They wouldn't notice what she was not telling them either – they were all as stupid as the next person, if the nightly opinion polls could be believed.

"Seven minutes," Abigail called from her little corner of the room, causing Asynja to begin fiddling with her pen again. She slammed it a little too firmly down onto the desk's surface and tried not to look directly at the cameras – yet. Doing that before the time came to start speaking always freaked her out. She focused instead on what she'd buy for dinner tonight – not only what kind of wine would go with it. Eating alone could be a bummer but when it was really great food and a quality drop, Asynja found herself easily comforted.

Tonight's list of items to be reported included a vicious rape, a cowardly attack, a grotesque act of terrorism, a valiant shower of counter terrorism, and a small kitten rescued from a drainpipe. The cowardly attack came first, then the grotesque act of terrorism – which would of course be followed by the valiant shower of counter terrorism. The kitten story, of course, came second-to-last. She had to watch how she switched from sombre-faced to cheerfully amused – sometimes, she'd been told, she left it a little too late, so that she was looking almost happy while delivering the tail end of the latest tale of death and destruction. It was really a tough job she had – tough but satisfactorily challenging. She wouldn't have it any other way, except for a large raise and better air-conditioning – oh, and more vacation time.

"Three minutes and counting!" Mark yelled, and Asynja was startled back to reality realising that he had moved positions. Either he had moved or Carlotta had moved him. Either way he was glancing importantly at his watch and glancing this way and that, acting as if he actually knew what was going on, or what should be going on, and was the grand overseer of the entire production.

Production might seem an odd word to use for the evening news program, but since beginning her first stint as an amateur newsreader Asynja had learned that production it was indeed. The make-up on her face wasn't the only part of the show that aimed at concealing and distorting reality. But that wasn't her concern – her only concern was to do her job and do it well, better, to secure that raise. Bloody Mark Davenport had stolen her last one, and she'd sooner stab him in the back than let him do it again.

"Thirty seconds," Anabella cried, and several people looked at her in surprise – since when had she earned the right to call times? Asynja supposed even Anabella was wondering that now that everybody had begun giving her the evil eye. It didn't matter anyway. There were more important things to think about right now.

"Eight seconds," Brodie yelled, and then began counting down on his fingers for Asynja's and other crewmembers' benefit. If one could call it a benefit: it was more distracting than anything.

Asynja cleared her throat as she always did and at the precise moment, looked right at the cameras, saying, "And I'm Asynja Dharmo. Welcome to Channel Eight News Tonight." She donned her serious look and leaned closer to the camera.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Delusional Gloom Blogfest - Ides of March

I've waited a fair while for this, and yet when the day finally arrived I had no idea what I was going to post! Finally I wrote something, which addresses the 5th option we were given:

Plot a murder of someone sorely asking for it, step by step

(Click on the image above for details of the blogfest in general)

My entry is inspired by my Chrysalis story, entitled, “I Pronounce You...Dead”, which you can read HERE. Incidentally, we at Chrysalis have a little in-joke about annoying/evil characters called Susan - we kept writing about them for a while there! :D

But without further ado, here is the entry!

Dear Susan Marie Walker,

How it begins:

I will date you, because I have not yet discovered who you really are.

How it progresses:

The whole ‘dating’ thing will teach me. It will teach me many important lessons, the foremost in my mind being that you are a monster of most heinous evil. And I will form a plan, lay out the steps with special care—these steps will take me ever t’ward your glorious demise.

Sorry, got a bit carried away with the dramatic speech. Still, the point remains—you’re going to die, and this is why.

-You’re the most arrogant person I’ve ever encountered

-You’re uglier on the inside than I knew it was possible to be

-You are cruel beyond measure to those less fortunate than yourself, and to those more fortunate, you’re even worse

-Your parents made you this way, I have no doubt, but you refuse to better yourself—you already think you’re perfect as is

-You make me so bored I want to cry

-Your favourite song is ‘The Macarena’

And finally... How it ends:

-I will go to that stupid “magic spell” party, the one all our friends are attending

-I will stand in the kitchen and dial triple zero

-I will tell the person who answers what address I’m at, and I will say, “I’m about to murder Susan Marie Walker, okay, bye!”

-I will hang up and walk out into the party, where you will be up to your usual tricks—making somebody’s life miserable

-I will stride up to you and flash you my smile, the one I know you can’t resist

-I will make you think maybe there’s a chance for us to get back together; I will convince you there is no other girl in the room for me

-I will cast a spell on you—it’s a stupid ‘spell’ party after all

-You will simper and sigh and gladly agree to play along

-I will hand you this shot of Curaçao

-You will drink it

-Then you will die, and the world will rejoice

-The cops will rock up.

And it doesn’t really matter what comes after that, because the important work will be done.

Right, I’m off to the bottle-o. They better have that blue shit in stock.

Monday, 14 March 2011

My coffee lady is leaving me :(

Every day on my way to work, I stop at the same near work café and see Alex and Nadia. I give them money, they stamp my Coffee Lovers Card, and they make me a beautiful coffee (or hot chocolate, depending on the mood). In short, they (and their beverage) help me start out my day just right. But now Alex is leaving, and I'm sad!!

I always looked forward to having a chat in the mornings, and I loved the little presents of chocolate they gave their best customers (I am one of those) at Christmas, etc. She was a bit emotional about it, which was why she left it till the last day to tell me she was going. Haha. I know the café she's going to, so will be able to pop in and see her sometimes. But still, it won't be the same!! According to another colleague of mine, she's been there at least six years, maybe longer.

But at least Nadia will still be there - she is as awesome as Alex, for sure.

In other happier news (unless you're my MC, then maybe it's not so happy), I'm up to the chapter in revisions of SUNDOWN where she gets "accidentally assaulted". Well, I'm going to rewrite it so that the injury to her is entirely an accident, but is the direct result of her punching a total douchebag in the face after he says something awful to her. Whee? Yes, whee! And this moment will mark the beginning of everything unravelling for her. I've got past the chapters that were a pain in the butt to edit, and now I'm up to the stuff I am really excited about. I'm wondering if this tells me the stuff I wasn't so excited about needs to be rethought (i.e. discarded?). But certain scenes from those chapters are necessary to the plot. However, they could be summarised, perhaps.

I guess I'm just happy to leave those questions for later, and get onto the really juicy stuff. To reiterate: Wheee!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Broken Heart Blogfest

Yep, it's time for yet another Blogfest! This time it's the Broken Heart Blogfest (click on the image above for more info!), which is being hosted by Dawn Embers over at It's In The Book.

I am sharing an excerpt from the former prologue to SUNDOWN, a prologue that was discarded due to its being entirely composed of backstory. So yeah, it isn't part of the novel anymore, but it still holds a special place in my heart. This is the last part of the prologue, and weighs in at 674 words:

Ten days after the death, I turned twenty-one.

I stayed in my room, but my mother came in at intervals, speaking to my back (the only part of me she could see from the doorway). She told me my friends had arrived, and I should come out so they could celebrate with me.

Celebrate. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to; it was that I’d forgotten how. And really, what was there to celebrate?

I hadn’t had a shower in a week, or eaten anything. I did recall having been forced to drink water, but I always spat the food out again. It was my body that rebelled, not me.

When my mother told me my friends were there to celebrate, I didn’t answer. I had no answer to give. Instead I just stared at the wall, shrouded in the Fog.

Later, my mother told me another friend had stopped by and brought a very special present: a goldfish. I should start thinking about a name for him, she said. He had character, and only the most special name would do. Did I want to come and say hello? He was waiting for me in the living room.

I didn’t stir.

Eventually my mother brought the fish into my room, placing him on my study desk. She told me to turn over so I could see him. I stayed where I was. Only after she left did I decide to follow her suggestion.

I was amazed by the monumental effort it took to simply roll myself over. It made me wonder how long it had been since the last time. Surely I must be developing bedsores.

That thought seemed to start a chain reaction in my head, leading to another thought and then another, thoughts falling like dominoes. Thinking of bedsores made me realise my hair smelled. Then I realised that all of me smelled. I started counting backwards to the last day I’d showered. I lost count and got to thinking how it seemed there were no days anymore, just one long endless Fog in which nothing meant anything. I realised my world was grey, without definition. Sometimes I couldn’t tell one moment from the next. But I knew some things, at least: my hair needed a wash; my scalp itched; and there was a fish.

In the fishbowl across the way, a shining little creature floated. All other thought ceased as I laid eyes on him. He swam in languid, stupid circles, and I remembered that goldfish were meant to be stupid…but in that moment, I was sure that this one had all the answers. He was wiser than all the humans I’d ever met. He knew what life was about: swimming, staring, swimming some more. Gills in, gills out. Wait for the little flakes of food to hit the surface and float slowly downwards. Gills in, gills out. And swim. Just swim.

As I stared at the fish, a name floated out of the Fog: his name. Ferret. A very wise fish.

I watched him circle his bowl, little gills moving in and out, and began to marvel at the simplicity of it all. To live was to swim, to eat, to float through space and time. And always to breathe. Just to breathe.

I composed a song while in the Fog, lyrics floating to me much as Ferret’s name had. In the beginning it only ever played inside my head. It was months before I wrote anything down on paper. By that time the song had solidified inside, shining in the darkness like goldfish scales.

“Can’t get up today

My staring eyes

Will I fall apart?

Just breathe…”

There would be shimmering chords, soaring vocals. There would be heartache in every strain. But as I played and sang my heartache would pour out of me. The song would be my release, and in turn it would release me.

Out with the words, the feelings, and the tears.

But only when I was ready would another soul hear it.

And a little aside - the lyrics are from an actual song of mine.

Now I'm off to read the other entries so far!