Monday, 31 December 2012

Waving goodbye to '12 and hello to '13

Hi everyone! It's 11:37am on December 31st, and I'm hiding out in my air-conditioned living room wishing fervently for winter's return to Western Australia. Even typing on this laptop is a bit much 'cause it's radiating heat onto me. So I'll try and be quick about today's post! First off I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year! I hope you all have a great night tonight. I will raise a glass of red wine or two to all of you, my blogging friends, and also to my friend Ally who passed away back in September - it's her 28th birthday today. Happy birthday Ally.

In other news, I'm eager to turn my attention to 2013, which I hope will have a lot of awesome times for all of us. Personally I'm looking forward to the A-to-Z challenge, numerous blogfests, BuNoWriMo, NaNoEdMo, and of course NaNoWriMo. I'm looking forward to stuff I haven't even imagined could happen, too. I'm also thinking about the following:

  • I might change the URL of this blog - the farseas is relevant to one particular story of mine, but it's quite an obscure reference
  • I'll be changing the look of the blog, though I haven't got a specific plan yet. It won't be a total overhaul
  • I'll probably be releasing an actual CD of my music, with inlay and booklet and all, largely thanks to the very awesome collaboration I've been in with a guy called Billy from California
  • I want to self-publish a story, and I'm thinking of starting with a novella I wrote for BuNoWriMo one year (I think it was 2011).

All my 2013 goals are summarised in the following two pages, though the Goals 2013 page is the main one I'll be holding myself to:

I thought my GoodReads friends would like to know that one of the items on my task chart is writing a mini-review of one Grimm Fairytale story per week. The reason for this is that I want to get this damn book read once and for all. ;) It's been on my "currently reading" list at GoodReads for years now!

Right. I think I've said all I want and need to say for 2012. I will say again though, thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year. You guys are awesome!
 Bring on 2013!!

Friday, 28 December 2012

GOALS (a 2012 summary) and a Blog of the Year

With the end of the year so close, it's time for me to reflect on what I achieved/did not achieve in 2012. After 2011's goal blitz, I was feeling pumped this year, but I didn't quite live up to 2011's high standards. Don't get me wrong, though - I'm perfectly fine with it! I just didn't get a perfect score this year. ;) Anyway, let's break it down, referring to my 2012 Goals page and also my 52 weeks of tasks page:


  • NaNoEdMo - I was travelling for a bit of this month, but still, I failed!
  • Writing one book review each month - I missed November
  • Attending one yoga/body balance class per week
  • Doing a beach walks on Saturdays/Sundays - failed this particularly as the year came to an end.


  • Read 43+ books in 2012 - my goal was at least 43
  • Read The Catrina Chronicles stories up to date (though as of now I am behind again)
  • Wrote and recorded 52 songs for 2012's Chrysalis Experiment
  • Finished both 2011's NaNo novels, DANNA and VICTORIOUS
  • Hit 50k in BuNoWriMo 2012 with IVY NIGHT - though the draft is not finished
  • Won NaNoWriMo 2012, rewriting DAPHNE
  • Posted one Globetrotter post per month
  • Did a preliminary read-through/edit of FIRE (had no recollection of this till coming to write this post. ha)
  • Sorted the equivalent of 100 photos a week
  • Wrote the equivalent of 1k of new material each week, not counting BuNo and NaNo projects (worked on DANNA and SUNDOWN II for this)
  • Reviewed all 52 Chrysalis stories, except 2 that were DANNA excerpts

"Somewhere in between"s:
  • I did read 9 eBooks from my writer friends, but not always the books I had on the original list. I kept swapping really long books for short novella-length stories (with no e-reader, it's not easy reading eBooks!)
  • Complete edit of DAPHNE - I do count this as an achievement, but it was actually more of a total rewrite, and I didn't do what I originally wanted and put more of Daphne's mother's history into the plot
  • As of this post, I will have written the equivalent of at least one post a week this year. But I'm pretty sure I went more than 7 days between posts at least once this year.

Extra achievements:
  • Finished my rewrite of SUNDOWN, which was not on my goals list anywhere, but which I made use of in the 1k of new material per week goal on my "52 tasks" chart.

Aaaand that's a wrap, folks! But what about next year? Yeah, I've got plans, and I'll talk about 2013 goals in a few days... :)

In other news, the lovely Deniz Bevan received the Blog of the Year Award, and chose to pass it onto me and Laurel Garver. I feel very honoured to have received this award, so thank you Deniz! The official rules of this award are:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the Blog of the Year 2012 Award
  2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there's no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and present them with their award
  3. Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award and include these rules in your post (please don't alter the rules or the badges!)
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them
  5. You can now also join our Facebook group – click like on this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience
  6. As a winner of the award please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar... and start collecting stars...

The people I'm going to pass this onto are:
  • Hart Johnson at Confessions of a Watery Tart, whose posts are often entertaining but also tackle the tough issues many people are too scared to mention.
  • Jordan McCollum, who doesn't tend to get a huge amount of comments on her blog but who still gives a whole lot to the writer blogger community with her very helpful posts.
  • Michael Atkinson at Hypothetically Writing, whose little snippets of fiction shared throughout the year have brought delight to many. Michael's creative wit is, in my opinion, unparalleled, and he also makes a great bloggy friend!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Book reviews - a ZAGOR re-read

I forgot to post a review last month, and I was going to cheat and post two this month, but I've decided to accept defeat in my "one book review a month" goal. This year I've learned that failure sometimes happens, and yet the world doesn't end! (Ha. See? The world didn't end.) Anyway, without further ado I bring you December's book(s) review!

I've just re-read THE ZAGOR CHRONICLES, a series of four little books I first encountered as a young teen and became utterly obsessed with. They were my first longer foray into the world of fantasy after having read THE HOBBIT as a kid, and they really did become my entire world for a while.

Each book is pretty short (i.e. Scholastic-style easily digestible stories for pre-teens/teens), so I finished my re-read pretty quickly. But there was so much to take in, so it was a rather riveting read! Back in high school, you see, I knew this series inside and out, but by the age of 32 apparently I'd forgotten basically everything except the main characters' names. My young teenaged self would have been mortified!

Some things I forgot?

  • There are zombies!
  • Anvar had his own magical skillz
  • There was another bad dude who wasn't Zagor
  • The heroes visited a different world (how the heck did I forget this?!)
  • Stubble was really annoying sometimes
  • Shebbeneth took a good long while to appear!

And one thing I didn't forget:

  • I still love to pretend the series ended differently.

All in all, re-reading these books was a little like settling into a comfy old pair of PJ pants and a nice worn out t-shirt. (Not that I have any PJ pants left from high school days...) Despite the times I cringed at the writing style, I was generally able to let go of those moments and just enjoy the story. And I still think it's a great story!

Right, now that that's out of the way, I'll say I'm 98% certain I won't be posting tomorrow (Christmas), but I will definitely be posting before the end of the year, to report on my progress with 2012's goals. For now I'll say MERRY EVERYTHING to you, my blogging friends, and I hope you have a great holiday!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Choose your own Apocalypse - a blogfest

Today is December 21st, and guess what? The world is still here over in Australia. Are you shocked? I know I'm shocked. Speaking of the Mayan apocalypse, this article amused me, mostly for the comments at the bottom of it! But anyway, let's get back to the point of this post, which is this fun blogfest happening today. It's hosted by Shannon Lawrence at the Warrior Muse and Chuck at Apocalypse Now! The requirements are as follows:

The rules are simple:
1. Choose your apocalypse 
2. Sign up on the linky below 
3. Tell us how you prepared for your survival amongst everyone else's demise 
4. Describe your apocalypse and how it's going down 
5. Make sure the badge is displayed on your blog 
6. Visit your fellow survivors and see how their world ended
Other than that, make it whatever you'd like!

So, without further ado, here's how I think the world will end someday:

Musicus Horribilis

Some guy is in his garage, listening to his little radio while working on the engine of an old, rusty car. The following song starts playing:

The guy's upper lip starts to curl. He goes to change the channel when a passer-by with a really bad, really mysterious mind-fever overhears and says, "Hey, great song! Let's turn that up a bit and have a dance party!" Before the garage guy can think twice, the mind-fever has been passed onto him, and he cranks the music and adopts a "let's party to this awesome brilliant song!" attitude. He turns the volume dial waaaaayyyy up and thereby - mysteriously - transmits the mind-fever directly into the song. The song, now a carrier of the mind-fever, starts to spread the illness down the street and beyond, infecting any living thing it comes into contact with - even rodents and insects and other songs!

The mind-fever spreads far and wide, and really, really fast.

Eventually, a whole city full of mind-fevered beings are chanting, "Ohhh, I love that song! Let's turn it up even louder!" They play the song over deafening loudspeakers, a la Lud from Stephen King's DARK TOWER series. The song gets louder and louder until it drowns the entire city. Pretty soon not just the city but the country, and in fact the planet, has become zombified by the song's complete horribleness. But the song is not done yet! It moves beyond the planet to blast out across the entire galaxy, solar system, universe, and pretty soon it reaches the ears of far-distant alien beings. These aliens, who are (mysteriously) impervious to the mind-fever, are so outraged at the horrendous noise pollution that they drop all their other millions of projects and zoom immediately over to Earth, where they realise quickly the only option left to them is to blow up the planet - the origin of the mind-fever.

And that's how it happens - Armageddon arrives on Earth for realz!

I've heard it prophesied that it will be this song instead that ends the world:

But no matter what song is responsible in the end, I'm convinced this is how Armageddon will arrive on our doorsteps. And as for how I've prepared? I haven't, as I know there is no hope even for me. No pair of noise-cancelling headphones would ever be able to save me from this!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Travelling for Christmas (vs staying at home)

One of my favourite Christmases ever was the one we spent in Canada. My brother lives there with his new extended family, and in 2009 my mum and I went to spend Christmas with them all. Before I get into why this was so exciting for me, let me paint a picture for you of the Australian version of Christmas.

The Australian Christmas...

Cottesloe Beach, 2011.
We have had "cold" Christmases before - one year it didn't get much above 20 degrees Celsius, and we were all at the beach under bright blue skies, shivering. Most of the time, though, we're roasting alive and dying for winter's return (well, maybe that's just me... I do know some freaks 'round here who love a 40+ Celsius day ;)). I love our Christmas traditions - going to the beach in the morning, having bagels with cream cheese/smoked salmon and fruit skewers, and sipping champagne & orange. But there is something magical about the idea of a white Christmas, and in 2009 I was mega excited about experiencing one.

Bumps in the road to snowville...

Me in a bauble at Changi Airport, Singapore.

We were getting into the Christmas spirit even as early as the airport in our hometown. The plain took us to Singapore first, where the airport was magnificent decorated with a Christmas theme (I love Changi Airport). From there we went to L.A., where we have family and friends. I was very disappointed that on one L.A. day it was actually warm enough that I had to take my jumper off! I wasn't all that surprised, because L.A. is very like my hometown in numerous ways, including weather. Still, you know what I wanted?

I wanted snow!

Spokane airport's shiny dude.
Getting colder...and colder...

Arriving at Spokane airport, we got our first taste of the Northern type of Christmas cheer. But it wasn't until we headed north towards the Canadian border that we got our first hints of a proper white Christmas. I had seen snow before on various occasions, and had even lived in a place where it snowed during winter (Blue Mountains, NSW). But this was to be something different - a white Christmas!

L-R: mum, me and my brother.

We spent a great Christmas in Calgary, followed by a visit to Banff and then back to my brother's town. We also stayed with them for New Year's, when we had an "e party" (we had to dress up as something starting with E. I dressed as an emo:

Emo me - my hair was made out of a rubbish bag.

All in all, it was a great few weeks, and I hope to repeat the trip many times in future!! For the next few years though, while I try my best to limit my travelling, I will just have to make the most of the beach at Christmas. ;)

Friday, 14 December 2012

HOBBIT fest! + a page re-jig

Today is the Hobbit Blogfest, hosted by Tyrean Martin and M. Pax, and this is my entry! Yeah, I'm too tired to compose a more proper rousing intro than that today (a kitty woke me up at 3am just so I could help her do a pee, which she didn't need help with at all as it turns out). Anyway, for Hobbit Fest, participants must answer four questions. Below are the questions and my answers!

What is your favourite hobbit characteristic/or the one that you think closely resembles you . . .?
Second breakfast? :)

If you could choose between a scrumptious second breakfast and a perilous unexpected journey – which would you prefer?
Second breakfast! I know, inspired response isn't it? Blame kitty.

Have you ever left behind something on a journey (expected or unexpected) and wished you could have it over and over again? (a pocket handkerchief?)
Yes. I left behind a beautiful Canon Eos camera in the Istanbul flea markets - in a fleeing thief's hands! I'm sure there are other things I've left behind as well, but I can't remember any right now. Kitty's fault.

What is your favourite part or quote from the book that you hope will be in the movie?
"He did not go much further, but sat down on the cold floor and gave himself up to complete miserableness, for a long while. He thought of himself frying bacon and eggs in his own kitchen at home - for he could feel inside that it was high time for some meal or other; but that only made him miserabler." (p.64, 1990 publication)

Thanks ladies for hosting this fun blogfest! I am sure the other entries will be way more energized and entertaining than mine! :P

In other news, I re-jigged my "Words & Music" page so that there is way less content, basically just a list of all the books I've written/am writing/may write in future, as it stands currently. I like this a lot better as it's just got the basic info and is much easier to digest. I whittled some of the music section away too, but it's still fairly chunky. I may work at whittling it more in future.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Cheers, Cavanaugh! (and my blogiversary contest winners)

Wahooo, it's AlexFest time!! AlexFest is hosted by Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy, David Powers King and Stephen Tremp. It lasts from December 10-12, and is going to be SO much fun.

This 'fest requires that we answer 4 questions. My answers are below:

In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like?
I imagine him with some really cool shades and a slicked-back hairdo, since ya know, he's a bit of a rock star around the blogosphere. ;)

In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead.)
For some reason the first name that popped into my head was Joss Whedon. haha

In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of?
He reminds me of Alex J. Cavanaugh, this legendary blogger dude I heard about once...!

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:
The ninja melted shadow-like into Cavanaugh's Bar and Restaurant, seeking the fiend who had stolen the greatest of treasures from him. He flicked his eyes around the room and quickly spotted his quarry. Moving more languidly than any cat, he made his way over to Mr Jon Cosbolt's table and spoke these dramatic words:
"Hhhhhello. My name is Alex. You kill my guitar. Prepare to die!"
Mr Jon Cosbolt was almost ready to laugh at what he took for a joke when the ninja launched his attack, moving faster than lightning in a blur of deadly hands and feet.
The last word uttered by the heinous destroyer of stringed instruments, Mr. Jon Cosbolt, was an involuntary "IWSG!" and then it was all over. In the wake of his vengeance, the ninja slid away into the night, never to be seen in that part of town again.
And that's my contribution! ;) Happy 'fest day Alex!!

Back on December 2-3, I hosted my very first blogfest in honour of my 2-year blogiversary. I want to say a huge THANKS to everyone who participated! It was so much fun seeing you as babies/toddlers, and/or hearing stories from your younger days. But I'm here today to announce the winners of the giveaway I hosted also on December 2. To remind you, the prizes were:

  1. 1st prize - a book from my selection, or one of your own choice, from Book Depository (value = $10)
  2. 2nd prize - any eBook(s) written by our author friends who commented on the post (value = $5)
  3. 3rd prize - an ebook of your choice (value = $3).

So, without further ado, here are the winners, randomly picked by an internet number generator:

  1. 1st prize - Judie
  2. 2nd prize - C. Lee McKenzie
  3. 3rd prize - Jeff Hargett
Congrats to all the winners!! Please contact me via email (you can find my email in the "Find Me" part of my side bar) with your choices of book and details (including a postal address if you want a Christmas card!).

Thursday, 6 December 2012

BLINDSIDED blog tour :)

Yep, I finally took a pic (or 10) last night trying to find one that I felt was suitable for Kyra Lennon's BLINDSIDED blog tour. By suitable I mean suitably lame and silly, naturally! Before I show you my picture, I will tell you what the heck we're doing here. Or rather, I'll let Kyra herself tell you:

So, when I do a blog tour, I like to squidge in as many contests as I possibly can - and with it being Christmas and all, I figured, why not make the most of the season with some silliness? 
Yes, that's right, peeps- I want to see your Christmas dress-up photos! Whether you're dressed up as Rudolph, or simply wearing a tinsel scarf, I want to see YOU wearing something festive! The photo has to be either brand new, or from sometime over the last few years - childhood photos will not count! You can put in as much or as little effort as you wish - the only requirement is you have a bit of fun with it. 
Here's what you have to do to join in:
  • Follow my blog, I'll follow back ;)
  • Sign up using the Linky List below
  • Between November 26th and December 7th - post your festive photo along with a link back to this page on your blog.
  • Hop around to see the other particpants!
I would also be extremely grateful if you'd share the banner in your sidebars, but it's not an official requirement ;) - Kyra Lennon

I should also mention that there are prizes! And of course it's not December 7th yet, so there's still time for you to sign up and have a chance at winning those prizes. :) Check out this link for more info.

So, now that all that's out of the way, here is my picture:

I'm holding a Christmas ornament I made yeeeeaaars ago for a friend and never sent to her. Oops, sorry friend. I still love ya though. ;)

Monday, 3 December 2012

"And You Aaaaareeee....?" blog hop

I wrote this post's title like that because I sort of imagine it being said by someone with a severely arched brow. Don't you?

Oh dudes, there are so many fun and exciting things happening around the blogosphere today! If you want to read all about Lynda R. Young's story in the MAKE BELIEVE anthology, check out this post. Also if you are looking for my post for the BABY FACES blog fest, click on THIS link. This post though is for the hilarious "And You Are?" blog hop, hosted by the seriously awesome duo Emily R. King and Tammy Thierault. For this blog hop, participants have to answer ten questions. Below are my answers:

1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?
I have long since lost count, sorry! If I estimated I'd say maybe...ten? But I could be wrong.

2. Can you pitch a tent?
Nope. Tried, and failed. One memorable year at the Southbound music festival, my mates and I found it really easy to find our tent in a huge field full of campers, 'cause ours was the only one completely flat on the ground! We slept in it that way, and unsurprisingly all developed colds (it rained that night) over the next few days.

3. What was your worst vacation ever?
Most of my holidays have at least had some good aspect to them, but nowadays I really do get annoyed by holidays that aren't at all restful. I think I'm getting old! Some might ask if sleeping in a homeless shelter could qualify as a worst, but you know what? It gave me great story material, so no, it doesn't. I guess this is a crap answer to this question, but honestly I don't have a better one to give. ;)

4. What was the last thing you bought over $100?
Well, I assume you don't mean something boring like my annual licence/third party insurance fee? Nah, didn't think so... Well, the last fun thing I bought over $100 was the reissue of the Smashing Pumpkins' faaaaabulous double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Apparently it's going to ship out no sooner than tomorrow (Dec 4th), which means my copy might ship out tomorrow. Cue much SQUEE!

5. We're handing you the keys to what?
The kingdom, baby! I don't know what kingdom, but it's a kingdom and I like it!

6. What was the last meal you cooked that made even you sick?
Well, I don't know about sick as in spewing, but I will say that my freezer still contains the last lot of vege curry thing made in my slow cooker...three years ago? Something like that. I should proooobably clear that stuff out at some point...

7. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It is so big. She looks like a 
potato with legs.
[I cannot claim credit for that as it's my mother's, but she heard it from someone else I believe. Regardless of where it originated, I love it]

8. What was your first car?
First one I ever bought? A Suzuki Swift '94. I loved that little bubby, and very nearly shed a tear when I traded it in for a brand spankin' new Toyota Yaris. I say nearly, 'cause I was still a bit bitter over the tennis elbow that thing gave me, so it wasn't all bad getting rid of it.

9. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she's okay or laugh first?
I'd probably smile, shake my head and say, "There she goes again!" The particular best friend I'm thinking of is always climbing on walls and other stuff, while wearing stilettos no less, and having accidents (i.e. falling off said wall into a flower pot - and yes, she broke the pot).

10. What's the worst song ever?
Pearl Jam's cover version of "Last Kiss"... blllellleeeeggghghhh. But another one that gives "Last Kiss" a total run for its money is a song by Australian muso Bernard Fanning, called "Wish You Well". I rewrote the lyrics for it actually, and my version goes:

"I just wanna wish you ill
you're someone I'd like to kill"

No offence, Fandango (that's what we call him). And I know my rewritten lyrics don't really reflect my rather Buddhist attitude to life, but oh well, that's the dark, twisted power of a horrible song for ya.

In truth, I could go on and on and on for this question as there are so many shitty songs in the world. But I prefer to focus more on the great ones. ;)

Lynda R. Young in the "MAKE BELIEVE" Anthology

[If you're looking for the BABY FACES blogfest, go HERE & go here for the "And You Are...?" blog hop!]

Today I'm helping my bloggy writey friend Lynda R. Young celebrate the launch of the Make Believe anthology, in which her story "Birthright" is being published. There's more "official" info below, but first up I want to say CONGRATS to Lynda!

But enough from me - here is the more official info!:

Exciting news! Lynda R. Young’s short story titled Birthright has been published by J. Taylor Publishing in the Make Believe anthology launched TODAY! Virtual cake for everyone!! Make Believe is currently available in e-book format and includes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy stories inspired by the image on the cover. This will make for great holiday reading.

Birthright by Lynda R. Young

Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible.

She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she's never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her.

Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead. 

Blurbs from all the stories included in Make Believe can be found on the J. Taylor Publishing website HERE.

By it from Amazon UK, Amazon US, and add it on Goodreads!

About Lynda R. Young:
Lynda R. Young lives in Sydney, Australia, with her sweetheart of a husband who is her rock, and a cat who believes world domination starts in the home. She writes speculative short stories and is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative. You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Sunday, 2 December 2012

It's my...2 year blogiversary!! [+ Baby Faces]

It's been 2 years since I started this blog, and things sure have changed a lot since then. I've discovered an amazing community full of very giving, entertaining and enthusiastic writer blogger people, and I feel so very blessed to be part of this community. THANK YOU to everyone who has visited me here - I'm glad to know you!

Today I'm sharing details of a giveaway I'm hosting (see below), but first it's time for my Baby Faces post, in which I shall share with you some of my baby pics. Danette's post reminded me that I should probably include the requirements again, just as a last-minute reminder. So here they are:

What are the requirements? 
  1. Between December 2nd and 3rd, post a pic of yourself as a baby, and/or;
  2. Tell us a story about when you were a baby (no doubt you can't quite remember it yourself, but you've probably heard some stories from other members of your family).
You can choose to do one or the other or both, depending on your mood on the day(s). ;)

And now for my pictures! I think these were taken in a photo booth, and I know we were still living in the UK at the time. You can see my Dad's hands holding me up:

And my personal favourite...

I've always been a face puller, clearly even since babyhood. In recent years a friend told me she looks at these pics whenever she feels down, 'cause they make her laugh. ;) Okay, that's it for my baby faces post/story, but be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this hop (I can't wait to! I've seen that some of you have posted already, and I'll be there to check out your baby faces shortly!):


I am not a great contest hoster, as most of you know already, but today I want to give something back for sure, so I am giving away these prizes:

  1. 1st prize - any 1 book from my selections below, or a book of your own choice, from the Book Depository (value = $10)
  2. 2nd prize - any eBook(s) written by one of our author friends who comments on this post (value = $5)
  3. 3rd prize - an ebook of your choice (value = $3).

All winners can also opt to receive a Christmas card from me via snail mail, if they are interested. :)

My book choices for first prize are:

These books are all ones that I've read and absolutely loved.

So, leave a comment below if you want to be in it to potentially win it, and I will draw winner(s) in a week.

In closing, thanks once again to all the folks who read my blog and especially to those who leave the occasional (or much more than occasional!) comment. I love that I've met you guys and I wouldn't have it any other way. ;)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A pinch and a punch [with NaNo verdict]

Do you think anyone's ever actually PUNCHED someone 'cause it's the first of the month?

I just watched a ten-minute video on beginner's algebra, and now my brain is sore. WHY, you ask? Well, I enrolled in this free Coursera course on Astronomy (LOVE), and though it's only an introductory course, it still requires that we have high school level algebra skills. Yikes! I don't even have toddler algebra skills! But I'm going to give it a try anyway, 'cause I don't want to fail without at least trying. Wish me luck! ;)

Tomorrow is the start of my blogfest, and I will posting on that day! But for today I want to mention how I did in NaNo for 2012. My final word count, achieved on Day 29 (I did no writing at all on Day 30, except to change the capitalisation of one word), was 110,301. I'm pretty content with that, though I know there's a fair bit of waffling crap I need to take out and replace with other crap that matters. I am not even going to touch this thing for a good while. For now, I've achieved my NaNo goal and also my DAPHNE rewriting goal, so I'm satisfied. And now it's time to move onto all the other 2012 goals I have yet to achieve this year! I have a month, so the clock's tickin'!

Happy December, everyone!!

Remember, there's still a bit of time to sign up for my blogfest, if you want! And thank you to everyone who's advertised it on their blog or elsewhere! I really appreciate it! :)

Monday, 26 November 2012

NaNo '12 winner - now to finish the story!

I passed the 50k mark in NaNo back on day 15, and currently I'm at 88,329 words. I made a wild stab and guessed I might have 20k more to go in the story, but quite honestly I don't really know where I'll finish up at. What I'm pretty sure I do know is that my story will, as usual, be bloated and in need of some slash 'n burn. But at least I don't think it'll get anywhere near my most bloated efforts of the past, which have been known to hit in the region of 150k. Yikes!

Ideally I'd like this story to be 85-95k at most, but to be honest I don't even know what the "recommended" wordcounts are for NA novels. Anybody got any thoughts on that? I know that people have always told me, "It should be as long as it needs to be", but honestly, a 200k YA romance is probably going to raise a few eyebrows for the wrong reasons...right? ;)

Anyway, my new goal is to finish the story itself by November's end. This way I will achieve one of my other 2012 goals, which is to rewrite my DAPHNE novel completely. Overall I can say I'm pretty happy with how I've gone, though there have been moments during November when I've been rather appalled at the absolute crap I've been writing. It's okay, though - that stuff will be fixed in revisions!

How have you gone during November with whatever you've been working on?

P.S. I read my first Jolene Perry novel
(that link is to my review which contains spoilers, beware!)
over the weekend,
and now I want more. MOOOOORE! :)

P.P.S. "Baby Faces Blogfest" sign-ups below (for info on this blogfest, check here).

Friday, 23 November 2012

Today is my mummy's birthday!

Little mummy.
Today we are celebrating my mum's 58th birthday, though she is currently away from home at her DIDO (drive in-drive out) job. She will be here for the weekend and we're gathering on Sunday to celebrate. But enough about that - I want to just talk about my mother.

70s (I think) mummy.
She is one of the best mothers the planet has ever seen. In high school all my friends were envious that I had such a cool mum (no curfew, no rules at all really, and definitely never any smacking). People say that kids need corporal discipline to stay on the straight and narrow. I say different, at least when I'm taking my bro and myself as evidence of how well un-spanked kids can behave. ;)

Mum was a single parent for much of my young life, and times were often tough, but we were pretty much always happy. As a small business owner, Mum worked from home, and she worked damn hard. I've heard it said that people who have lots of money work really hard. Well, my mum was proof that people who have no money work just as hard or even harder.
Me and mummy - I think I was in my teens here.

My mum grew up in a very happy family, and I always remember her saying that she was shocked to realise as she grew up that her family was abnormal rather than normal, because of how happy they were. She's the youngest of four kids, the baby, and growing up she found it hard to get a word in edgewise. Sometimes that's still the case today when we're hanging with her raucous sisters (who just happen to be awesome aunties as well)! The only boy in the family is definitely the most placid. :)

Me and mummy on my 25th b'day (7.5 years ago).
I got my mother's green eyes and it's possible I got her curly hair too, though it's equally possible I got my dad's curly hair (they both have similar-looking hair, even down to having the same type of curl). Some people say I look very like Dad, and others say I look very like Mum. I think I look a fair bit like both at particular moments (though I am basically an identical twin to my dad's little sister, but that's a story for another time).

I guess what I really wanted to say was happy birthday Mummy!

P.S. Don't forget to check out my Baby Faces Blogfest and sign up if you want! :)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Coming up: a blogfest and a blogiversary

WEIRD NEWS: I, yes I, have decided to host my first ever blogfest. I'm calling it the Baby Faces Blogfest, and I'm a little worried I will end up being the only participant, but I figure it's time I bit the bullet and put myself out there, even at risk of public humiliation.

Re: the theme for this blogfest, I know my blog isn't a baby anymore - it's more like a toddler! Here's hoping the terrible twos aren't too bad around here, but I guess it depends on my mood as the new year starts. ;)

What are the requirements?
  1. Between December 2nd and 3rd, post a pic of yourself as a baby, and/or;
  2. Tell us a story about when you were a baby (no doubt you can't quite remember it yourself, but you've probably heard some stories from other members of your family).
You can choose to do one or the other or both, depending on your mood on the day(s). ;)

What the heck's in it for you?
  1. The sheer enjoyment of bragging about how cute you were as a baby?
Also note that on December 2nd when I post for my blogiversary, I will be giving away a little prize (your choice of a book I've selected, or some other book, from the Book Depository). More details about that on the day though.

For now, I leave you with the linky tool on which you can sign up for this awesome blogfest. :)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Krystal Wade's "Wildest Moments" blogfest

Krystal Wade is hosting the "Wildest Moments" blogfest from November 12th to November 23rd, in celebration of the release of her novel WILDE'S MEADOW (released on November 5th! Congrats Krystal!!).

Prizes are a Kindle Fire (!), Kindle skins or a $15.00 Amazon gift card. In short, this is a pretty cool contest. But more than that, the blogfest itself is a really cool idea, so I had to join!

What are the requirements of this blogfest?

"All you have to do is blog about a time you did something wild, something life changing. Jumped from a perfectly good airplane? Quit your job to write full time? I’m looking for fun, heart-pumping, or inspirational stories that you have experienced. “Wilde” things you’ve completed on your quest to grow up or move on." - Krystal Wade

San Francisco, 1998

My story is about the night 17-year-old me slept in a homeless shelter in San Francisco. The story does involve some mouldy cheese, but I'll leave that part for another time. ;) Back in 1998 I was travelling the world with my Dad, and on this particular day we arrived on the outskirts of San Francisco near sundown. We used some of our last dollars to get a train downtown, and went to the police station to find out about shelters we could stay in. The first one couldn't accept us due to my age, but they did advise us on how to get into another shelter nearby:

"You need to tell them you've had a drink today. Just make sure you say that."

At this second shelter, the manager sat us down and asked a series of questions, which I shall now paraphrase (along with my answers):

Q: So, what are you addicted to?
A: Um...nothing.
Q: Well, what are you doing here?
A: I've had a drink today
(pretty sure this wasn't true as we couldn't afford a drink that day!)  
Q: Well, I can't just let you stay here if you're not addicted to anything...

Eventually, the guy did begrudgingly let us stay the night. And what a thrilling night that was for me, sleeping on a paper-thin mattress next to some poor woman hacking up her lungs, and listening to the shouts of folks out on the street who sounded in danger of killing each other. But it sure did make me appreciate my own life a lot more. At least, the life I led when not travelling with Dad.

The next morning, we had a family wedding to attend. It was a fair way from where we'd spent the night, and we got part of the way there by bus, but wound up at the bottom of a very large hill when we needed to be at the top. This was when I did my last bit of hitch-hiking for 1998, when a very kind stranger picked us up and drove us all the way to the wedding venue. Here is an excerpt of an email I sent home to my mother after all this had gone down:

-only just made it to <cousin's> wedding, arrived in a Jag with a guy who picked us up hitching, who tooted the horn in front of the guests and then, as a joke, got out and opened our door for us—a very nice man!

It was particularly amusing to have this well-dressed, spiffy-looking guy pretend to be our chauffeur when we were looking so incredibly scruffy. Oh, and as a nice ending to this particular story, our very generous relatives put us up in the Radisson that night.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

NaNoWriMo home stretch

I'm on the home stretch with NaNo, but I'm really slowing down. I think parts of this weekend had some responsibility for that. I did pretty well on Friday night, but much of Saturday was a write-off. I had a busy day, true, but it wasn't just that - it was also the first signs of real procrastination creeping in. Today, Sunday, is my day at home where I don't have to go out or do anything. And of course I'm using that day to avoid writing.

It's 1:53 pm and I've written about 1500 words. I've also watched a few episodes of Supernatural (s7), and now I'm going to watch 27 Dresses, mostly because I was reminded of it last night when I saw Elton John open the Perth Arena (which venue I call "Smurf Arena" because it's almost entirely BLUE in colour!), and he played "Bennie and the Jets". In other news, I am loving food today (nothing new - I love food every day). I have different snacky foods to eat and they are hard to resist, especially when I'm watching DVDs on my beautiful new TV (I haven't had a TV in years, and I finally bought one a few weekends back). In short, I guess you could say I'm now in near-full procrastination mode. With a word count of 40,410, maybe I'm feeling that I can afford to slow down.

I don't want to, though. I want to hit that 50k mark as soon as possible. I want to get through this stage of writing complete crap, and I want to do it at more than a snail's pace. Speaking of snails, I've watched them on my driveway before and thought, These guys are actually moving faster than you'd expect! Let's put it this way - snails move faster than grass grows, so if you want to use a cliché that implies slowness, the grass growth thing is probably more effective. Then again, sometimes after a heavy rain it does seem to me that grass in my backyard grows to knee-height overnight!

Yes, that's an illustration of procrastination in action. Going to watch that movie. ;)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Resurrection Blogfest - Mina Lobo's blogiversary celebration

Greetings everyone on U.S. Election Day (here in Aus it's the day after, but whatever)! I sit here in Australia wishing you the best of luck for an un-nauseating outcome. I'll come right out and say bring on some more Obamarama!! But anyway, moving on...!

There's this groovy chick called Mina Lobo who is sometimes naughty (at least we are warned of this when clicking through to her blog) and always nice, and today she is celebrating her first blogiversary with what she is calling the:


For this blogfest, participants must do the following:

"On November 7, 2012, your blog post should prominently feature the blogfest badge as well as something from your first year of blogging that you believe deserves some TLC, or that you're especially proud of and wish to showcase, or simply has sentimental value for you." - Mina Lobo

They must also do other things if they want to be a winner, and you can read all about those things here. For my entry I decided to just link back to my first-ever post on this blog, which I wrote mere days after finishing NaNoWriMo in 2010. I'm not going to re-post it, just link to it. But why am I choosing this post in particular? Well, no reason except that I'm doing NaNo right now, so that old post is meaningful for that reason. Also there's the mere fact that it was my first ever post, and I am coming up on my own 2-year blogiversary (I'll talk more about that in December!).

Right, then, I'm done! At least after I've said to Mina, "Congrats on your blogiversary and I'm glad to have met you!"

What was your first-ever blog post about?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Why Book Depository rocks Australia

Book Depository - why it's awesome
If I lived in America I'd probably make huge use of Amazon, because the postage appears to be so damn cheap! Living in Australia, though, those Amazon bargains aren't quite so bargainy, since postage is at least $8 per item. Even if you buy more than one item from the same seller, you'll still be paying at least $8 postage for each item. Compared with Book Depository, which provides us with free postage, this really can add up to quite a large amount. I tell ya, if Book Depository sold CDs and DVDs as well, it'd be my one-stop shop for pretty much everything I neeeed/want/musthave.

I'm waiting for you!
The downside for other buyers
Cherie Reich recently pointed out to me that self-published authors wanting to sell their books on Book Depository have to put up the price of their books. Since I know the world doesn't revolve around me, I completely agree that book prices should stay affordable for the majority of buyers, at least for a while. But eventually I would hope that you guys will add your books to the Book Depository just so I can buy them without breaking the bank. ;) And yes, I do prefer a paperback copy. Don't worry, though, I can wait my turn.

Aaaand, in other news:

It's day 5, but I haven't written anything for today yet (pesky full time job getting in the way!). Days 1-4 brought my wordcount up to 18,290, and I'm pretty happy with my progress there. The writing has come fairly effortlessly so far, though I've had to pause now and then to get my facts straight. It does help that I'm basing my character's uni studies on my own from 1999, but I'm going to have to update a few things, i.e. there shall be more iPads out and about, even if my characters rely on a clunky laptop and an old-fashioned notebook for writing.

Friday, 2 November 2012

NaNoWriMo post-day #1 report

My NaNo profile.
Day #1 of NaNoWriMo is over and my word count is around about 3,897. This is a sort of average amount for me. In the past I've won NaNo within the first 9 days, or else I've won it on the very last day. I can see ending this one somewhere in the middle, but I won't project too far forward 'cause I don't feel the need to put any sort of extra pressure on myself. Ironically I don't feel the pressure that a lot of other people probably feel with NaNo, perhaps 'cause I know I can do it.

But how am I going with my story so far? Well, I'm enjoying the rewrite. The writing seems to flow pretty effortlessly. There are already moments of mildly excessive waffling, but naturally those will be chipped away at in revisions at a later date. I'm more excited about where my story will end up than where it is at present, but I've enjoyed the introductory parts. I'm just starting to put Daphne's life into its tailspin, but she's only getting her first taste of it so far. Poor lady. I really do feel sorry for my tortured characters.

How are you going with NaNo,
if you're doing it?
And if you aren't,
what are you doing instead? :)

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Year I Turned 18 - Cally Jackson's blogfest

Firstly, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!! Now down to business!

"The Big Smoke"
by Cally Jackson
Between October 29th and November 2nd Cally Jackson is hosting the "The Year I turned 18" blogfest. There's a $20 Amazon gift card as a prize, so you may want to sneak in an entry of your own! There is also a coupon for all entries to download Cally Jackson's new adult novel THE BIG SMOKE for the bargain price of $0.99. Totally cool! Click on the link up there for more info on the requirements of participation!

1998: the year of travel and couch potato-ing.
This is such a fun idea for a blogfest, and I'm excited to share with you what I did during the year I turned 18. That year was 1998, and I was fresh outta high school. Most of my classmates were either getting jobs or starting their first year of university. But while I had my acceptance letters from various universities, and had chosen one to call home, I'd also decided to defer my studies for all of 1998. For me, 1998 was to be the year of the post-high school comedown, a chance to gather some reserves in preparation for "real life", and...a chance to travel!

My Dad and I had been planning an 8-stop trip around the world for a while. For Dad, it was a driving-themed journey - as a driving instructor and what I'd venture to call a "road scientist", he wanted to prove that age didn't matter, and that 17-year-olds could drive around the world just like adults. His plan was to have me drive in New York City, on the German autobahn, around the Arc d'Triomphe and through London's Hyde Park Corner, etc.. My plan, meanwhile, was just to see a whole heap of the world in one go and have a serious adventure.

17-year-old me in Switzerland, 1998.
We left home on February 2nd, 1998, and drove across Australia. Next we moved onto the North Island of New Zealand. From Auckland we flew to Los Angeles, and from there crisscrossed the U.S.A. and had all sorts of adventures (see parts 1 & 2 of this commentary). Flying back out of Los Angeles we headed for England, then onto France, Luxbembourg (I think), Germany, Switzerland, and Italy (with some repeats).

The journey was meant to last a total of 6 or so months, and for Dad it did, but after a "slight" emotional breakdown in Europe I decided to cut my journey short. I do partly regret this, but then, I really was homesick and bone-weary, and I felt much happier knowing I was heading back home. I missed my Mummy. :)

Dad and I in Paris, 1998.
In hindsight I can say that this was the most amazing journey I've ever been on. Sure, I did a 15-stop world trip on my own a few years later, which was truly incredible, but this 1998 trip was a special journey - I travelled with my Dad, saw some truly phenomenal sights, and drove all over the world at just 17.

I did actually turn 18 during this year, in case you're wondering, but by that point I was at home again and participating with great success in the Couch Potato Olympics. I knew after all that as of 1999 I'd be studying again, so this was my last chance to really vegetate. For me, 1998 was an awesome year.

Me in Switzerland, 1998 (yes, I've always been a face puller).