Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Travel Series: U.S.A. part 1

The first time I visited America was during my world trip with Dad in 1998. We had already driven across Australia and seen much of New Zealand's north island, but next up was my very first trip into the U.S.A., about which I was extremely excited! I've got family in the U.S., but it's also the country that spawned/reared some of my all-time favourite musicians. To my teenaged self, it would be amazing just to set foot on American soil (still is to my adult self, actually!).

Dad taking a photo on the way to Chicago
- and that's our Chrysler!
We flew from Auckland to L.A., where a lot of my mum's family lives. In Mar Vista with family, I got the longest night of sleep I've ever had in my life (18.5 hours or so). Once we'd recovered from our jetlag, we set about arranging the next leg of our journey, which was where Auto Driveaway came in. We didn't know where we'd be going, but that was half the fun of relying on driveaway cars. After turning down the first car we were offered (it just wasn't fancy enough for our liking - yep, even soon-to-be homeless hobos can be auto-snobs sometimes), we wound up with a beautiful Chrysler Cirrus. This car, which went fast and smelled new (and had a CD player, man!), was bound for Chicago.

If you look closely, you can see Dad lying in the road,
taking yet another photo!
We had three days to reach Chicago. By Dad's calculations, this gave us a bit of leeway to take our time and enjoy the trip. During that trip we passed through the Death and Monument Valleys, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon National Park (stopping at the Canyon itself, on a day when it was snowing). We drove through countless towns, small and large. We paused at a lot of truck stops and slept in the car each night. Sometimes we slept parked by fields of snow, other times amidst semi-trailers. All in all, it was an amazing drive.
Crand Canyon, 1998
 - you can't tell but it 
was snowy 

I was still most excited to reach Chicago, though, since I'm a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan. Part of my seventeen-year-old self did daydream of bumping into Billy or D'Arcy or James or Jimmy while in Chicago, even though I knew we'd only be there a few hours before moving on (it was general policy that we wouldn't linger overlong in any one place). But I still took in the tiny part of Chicago I did see with a sense of wonder. I glimpsed Lake Michigan (which Dad pronounced "Lake Mitch-i-gan") and daydreamed of rock stars.

One of the roads Dad practised rally driving on.
On the advice of a local woman, we headed for Chicago's Green Mill bar where apparently Al Capone used to hang out. A band was playing jazz, and I think we got some Mexican food from a place next door. Outside the Green Mill, I met a homeless guy who was collecting money. I gave him a dollar and asked his name. "Lester!" he said, and I responded, "Really? My dad's name's Lester!" When Dad appeared, I introduced the two Lesters, and took a photo of them with Dad's camera. Sadly it turned out really dark and you can't see much (or anything, really).

Finally, our time in Chicago ended. We had a new driveaway car and a new destination - Philadelphia. But true to our style, we weren't exactly going to drive straight there. I'll write about the drive from Chicago to Philly next time. :)

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A review of DORIAN GRAY, plus Sunday Sessions #8

For my book review this month, I've opted to talk about a classic I've only read for the first time this year - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde.

Last year, I wrote a short story for Chrysalis about a really creepy painting. I didn't realise at the time that DORIAN GRAY was also about a creepy painting. Somebody commented that part of my story reminded them of this classic novel. Having now read Wilde's classic work for myself, I can definitely see the parallels. And I can attest to the sheer creepiness of the original!

While this book no doubt has some deep meaning about gluttony and greed and how we should age gracefully, all I can really focus on is that totally messed up painting. I wasn't sure what to expect as the end of the story drew nearer. Would the painted image step off the canvas and start killing everybody? Would fleshly Dorian run off and kill his dear friend Harry? He seemed to be pretty into that sort of thing by then. So as not to spoil the ending, I will simply say that the ending wasn't a letdown!

To summarise, I'd call this a dark and seedy story of one man's slow but steady demise - his twisting from something almost angelic into something truly monstrous. I haven't quite decided whose fault his downfall was - his friend Harry for being such a bad influence, or himself for being so dangerously vain at his core? Thinking about it now, the story reminds me a little of Kirino's GROTESQUE, which I read last year. Only GROTESQUE was utterly littered with characters who went from good to oh so bad.

Sunday Session #8

It's Sunday, and time for me to share with you the music I've listened to most in the last week. It's been a continuation of the 'classic rock' slant this time around, with another tune from the Cult, but also a tune from Neil Young. I've been fortunate enough to see both these acts live in concert, all within the last few years. Long live rock!

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Daily Dodo - nearly at 300 followers

My friend Laura is not a fuman, but she sure is a Laura! She blogs at Daily Dodo, and is coming up on 300 followers. Her aim is to reach that number by March 6th, which is the date of her first blogoversary! I can recommend her blog not only because she's a great blogger friend to have, but because her posts are really fun to read. Apart from regular updates on her writing projects and other events in her life, she features highly entertaining romantic flash fiction each Friday, by herself or guest blogger Anna Holt depending on the week!

Go and check out Laura's blog, and follow if you like what you see! There may well be a prize involved when she hits her 1-year blogoversary. :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tagged by Leigh Covington...after a little rant

Well, I'd have to be a robot to be able to read this!

I've seen a lot of bloggers ranting about word verification lately. The reason can be seen above! What the hell does that first word say? Believe it or not, I entered letters after squinting at the screen for a while and actually seemed to get it right. I'm not convinced, but maybe I was really that lucky. I certainly couldn't read the damn word, so it had to be pure luck.

Anyway, moving on!

A while back I got tagged by Leigh Covington, and she charged me and my fellow tagees (for the purposes of this post that is a word) with answering some questions. On that note, I used to write that 'qvestions', just for fun. Anyway, here I go with the question answering!

1. What is your dream vacation?
I've travelled a lot, but one thing I would love to do before I die (other than see the Great Pyramids, at least) is check out the Arctic Circle and see the northern lights.

2. Are you spontaneous or do you like to plan ahead?
I guess it depends on the situation. With travelling I tend to have a solid plan at least of where I'm going (I don't do open-ended tickets). But with writing and creativity in general, I tend to be more of a pantser. At work I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but I still don't necessarily have my whole work day planned out. I may jump around between numerous projects in one work day, if possible.

3. Tell us one thing you want to do, but don't dare to do. (Unless of course, you dare to do everything!)
Go and live in another country for a while. I know so many people who have done that, but I've only ever travelled with the certainty that I will return home (I kind of like that certainty, to be honest, but I think living overseas would be a nice challenge).

4. What's your biggest phobia?
Cockroaches! The big, brown, flying kind. Other than that, speaking (or performing) in public makes me feel just a little queasy. I think I'd rather deal with a flying cockroach than speak in public. Unfortunately sometimes I have to do it for my job, even though it's technically not part of my role. I hate that. (It's no coincidence that I have to do some public speaking today at work)

5. If you were stranded on a desert island - what 3 things would you want with you? (not including laptop, or family.)
The Smashing Pumpkins' forthcoming reissue/remaster of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness; the complete Harry Potter series of books; Wilson the volleyball to be my friend! (Yes I just re-watched CAST AWAY for the first time in years. I love Wilson).

6. Name three blessings in your life.
My family, my friends and the privilege of living in a relatively free country.

7. What was your nickname in High School?
Well, one of my friends called me Fish Face for a while, until I told her she better stop if she wanted to live. I also had a self-imposed nickname of Carrie (not related to Stephen King's book at all, which I have yet to read!). I think I might've also been called Danielle Johns at one point (ya know, Daniel Johns...Silverchair).

8. If you could meet the President of the United States, what would you say to him?
I'd say, "You're a darn sight better to listen to than your predecessor, man!"

9. If you could be any literary character for a day, who would you be?
Hermione Granger! I think her life is pretty cool, even if she's gone through a lot of crap.

10. What is your favorite quote?
I don't know that I have one single favourite, but...umm, I'm always partial to Billy Corgan's variation on a popular saying: "If practice makes perfect and nobody's perfect, why practice?" Not that I particularly live by that, of course!

11. In the colour code personality test, what colour are you? (If you don't know, go HERE!)
I was a White:
"Whites are motivated by Peace. They seek independence and require kindness. They resist confrontation at all costs. To them, feeling good is more important than being good. They are typically quiet by nature, process things very deeply and objectively with great clarity. Of all the colours, Whites are the best listeners. They respect people who are direct but recoil from perceived hostility or verbal battle."

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Kreativ and Versatile Blogger awards

Versatile Blogger (new badge!) and Kreativ Blogger awards, from Lara Schiffbauer

A while back, I was awarded these two badge thingies above by Lara Schiffbauer (who is totally cool if you haven't found out yet! Go visit her blog!). I've won the Versatile Blogger award before, but this one is a new style of badge, so I had to show it off! Still, I'm going to focus on the Kreative Blogger award, since that's a newey!

What it's about: I'm thinking it means being creative, but with different spelling. Right?

What I have to do: Tell you 6 things about myself...
  1. In general, I'm pretty uncreative with spelling - I like to spell things the traditional (Australian English) way! I'm very stubborn in that regard
  2. I don't particularly consider myself a patriot, and I get rather irritated with hot-headed patriotic idiots who insist on believing they're better than anyone else on earth just because they were born on a certain chunk of land
  3. One of the songs I hate most in the entire universe is "Love Shack" by the B-52s. I'm sorry, but I just can't love it!!
  4. I hate it when I see CD's or DVD's (or similar collections of letters) written that way, with the apostrophe. It's not like you're saying "Yes, I'm going to CD's place, you know my friend CD?" and if you're doing it 'cause you think that there are letters missing (which, of course, there are), well why not write it as C'D's then?
  5. I really hate summer, and yet I seem to live in the summer capital of the bloody world, and I don't want to move anywhere (despite the fact that living here under the hole in the ozone layer has probably contributed greatly to the skin cancer problem I'm having at present - thankfully it's all benign, but it's still a the forehead!)
  6. For the first time in forever, right now I'm feeling like I do not want to travel for many years to come (I have been travelling on and off for the past 5 years and I'm a bit over being broke because of it, quite frankly).

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunday Sessions #7 (and a brief goals/reading update)

Another Sunday is here, and so I'm going to share with you the music I've been listening to most in the past week. We have another tie, a three-way tie matter of fact, this week. The songs are:

  • The Cult, "Love Removal Machine" - maaaaan I love this band. I've always got different favourites at any given time, but this is definitely a track that's always up there!
  • Blue Öyster Cult, "Astronomy" - I was listening to this song one day while heading off to see a man about a skin cancer, and though I'd heard it before it was only this time that it struck me that I loved it. Particularly the ouuuutro.
  • Aphex Twin, "Xtal" - this band is one that I've not yet managed to grow to completely love, probably due to their sometimes horribly creepy video clips (but if you want to write horror they're probably a good place to look. haha)...but this song is beautiful.

So that's it for another Sunday Session. Happy listening!

Before I go, I want to share a quick update about my weekly goals. I've achieved them, but only just! And it's already time for another week to begin! In other news, I finished reading a book about a library cat in Iowa (titled Dewey, you may have heard of it), and now I'm reading a Dave Grohl biography. What's with me and the non-fiction, you ask? Well, the cat book was thrust upon me by a work colleague, so I felt obligated (but I did love the book, don't worry), and the other (Davey boy) was a Christmas gift from my brother and his wife, sent all the way from North America, so again I felt obligated (luckily I totally love Dave Grohl).

How are you?

Friday, 17 February 2012

(Not so) tiny little interlude

It's been a full-on week or two with blogfests (or hops) happening left, right and centre (ahhh, gotta love a good cliché). In February so far I've participated in:

All of these had considerable levels of participation, and I'm still working to visit all the blogs of participants! I think I did get around to all the Critique people, but for all the other blogfests I have yet to visit every blog! I'm still working on it though, as you may be noticing.

There's more to come in February, though, with the Evil Genius Blogfest hosted by the Golden Eagle on February 27th. I also have some other things to get done during February, including a book review and another travel entry for my Globetrotter series. But for now, I'm going to anticipate the coming weekend in which I will...catch up on all the weekly goals I have yet to achieve! (there are a few)

What have you been up to this February?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Is It Getting Hot In Here? blog hop - Valentine's Day!

It's Valentine's Day, and time to steam it up a bit for the Is It Getting Hot In Here? blog hop, hosted by Hope Roberson and Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing and Lovin' It. I'm sharing an excerpt with you of what I think is one of my steamier kissing scenes. In actual fact, this scene ends in romantic disaster for my characters, but I'm leaving that stuff off so as not to spoil the fun! I hope you enjoy the excerpt!

          His voice had turned soft, and as if his words had their own magic, everything was suddenly different. His smile faded, and his eyes shone with a new intensity. My breath caught with a familiar panic--the panic of knowing I might soon be washed away. I inhaled raggedly, preparing to change the subject, to turn away. Instead I stepped toward him, reaching out.
          What are you doing?! Are you insane? an inner voice yelled. And maybe I was, because I kept reaching...
          He was easy to reach, half seated as he was on the table. He was still taller, but I didn’t have to crane my neck quite so far to meet his eyes. God, those eyes... They made my head swim. I felt both hot and cold at once; my skin prickled. That warning voice kept screaming in my head, but everything else drowned it out.
          I felt his heat right before my fingertips touched down, touched his jaw, brushed upwards and back. Fire on fire. I shivered.
          Then, flash. I froze, a wave of icy coldness washing over me. I couldn’t move--not even to let him go. There was new gleam in his eyes—panic. You bloody idiot. Get away from him! I stayed frozen.
          Was that his heart I could hear beating staccato, or my own?
          In my mind the scene played out: me springing on him, smashing my mouth against his. But I couldn’t move. I stood there, hands on him, under a spell.
          Then the spell broke. “Oh shit,” I whispered, withdrawing my hands. No heat now, only cold. I withdrew my hands but then he gripped them, and a single word rushed out of him:
          I wanted to ask him, Don’t what? but instead I shifted, drawing my face to his. I knew he was close because I could feel the sparks. Was I breathing? Was he? I couldn’t tell. My head moved a fraction, and I was sure that our mouths must now be touching. But only as my head tilted forward further did I know for sure. My lips brushed his, dragging me into the electrical storm between us.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Origins blogfest - how'd you get started writing?

Today's the day when we're sharing our "how I got started with writing" stories as part of the Origins blogfest. For more details on what's involved, see the blogs of any of our gracious kick-arse hosts: DL Hammons, Katie Mills, Matthew MacNish and Alex J. Cavanaugh. But now it's my turn to tell you how I started out writing, and...well, I want to take you on a little illustrated journey.

So far in my life, I've written...

Heathen short stories

Heathen rhyming poetry

Dramatic tales full of ellipses...

Fictional stories (no really, they weren't true) about my cats
(and yes, I meant "dork", but wrote "daulk")

Tragically overbloated epic fantasy (not finished)

Illustrated biography

Horribly 'emo' high school poetry

Raunchily illustrated poetry intended to be lyrics
(is still not lyrics)

Actual real lyrics (with music to match)!

Fan fiction

Instruction manuals

Travel memoir

Travel fiction
(I lied in this primary school assignment, I'd never been to Tasmania - still haven't)

A nonsensical language that every linguist would roll their eyes at
(for the aforementioned epic fantasy mess)

Fantasy? Magic realism? The tree talked

Compelling literature

Makeshift picture books

And novels that actually got finished

I've received a fair bit of critique, starting back here:

I was also quite open with my self-critique:

I've written by hand, by typewriter, by awful dot matrix printer, and by fancier (20th century. Gasp!) laser printers...

I've written by candle light and even by starlight.

I've written on planes and in coffee shops around the world. Mostly, I've written in my living room while trying out for the Couch Potato Olympics.

I've written songs the day after heartbreak (very cathartic!). I've written songs in tribute to friends' loves and losses.

I've written crappy poetry, and poetry I think is actually half decent.

I've written umm, I think 7 novels, and I have a few more not far off being finished.

I haven't had anything published except a poem in a University "street publication", but nor have I got around to trying yet.

I've written for myself, and for others. For friends and yes, for strangers, in the hopes that there'll be something entertaining, invigorating, inspiring in what I write.

I write to make people happy.

But mostly, I write to make myself happy.

I guess writing (and spelling, and English) has always been my thing:

Really, I'm just glad I didn't have to rely on my Maths grades for sustenance:

I can probably thank my parents - both their creative genes and the fact that they read to me as a baby/toddler/what have you - for how I turned out. They are, after all, my origins. My dad would argue that I was my own person from the get go - that he had nothing to do with how I turned out. But I just don't buy that. And I'm happy to give my parents credit where it's due. 'Cause I'm happy to be a writer, and a part of this great community with all of you!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Session #6 ... and SATC

It's Sunday, and time for me to share the songs I've listened to most in the last week. This week the number one position was taken by a song that was featured previously in session #4 - Catherine Wheel's "Salt". Definitely one of my all-time faves, but as it's already been featured I will skip to the runners-up this week instead (and yes, it's another tie):

  • Catherine Wheel, "Texture" - from the same album as "Salt", and I'd have to say my favourite CW album of all of them!
  • Weezer, "The World Has Turned And Left Me Here" - Weezer are sort of cute and dorky while at the same time being rather rockin'. I think this song sums that up nicely. Very fun lyrics, even though the song appears to be about being dumped.
  • Cold, "Anatomy of a Tidal Wave" - I think I have heard about 3 songs by Cold, and I don't really know anything about the band. But I do know that I love this song!

Anyway, that's it for another Sunday Session! Now I want to mention that I just finished re-watching SEX AND THE CITY, the series, and it was one of those situations where you're compelled to keep watching just so you can get it over with and get back to "real life". I was compelled, of course, because I love the show, but I'm kind of glad my re-watch is done! Now I need to watch the movie again. And incidentally, I'm not a huge fan of the second movie, but I guess it had its moments.

Happy weekend everyone, and if you've left comments in the last few days for various blogfests and I haven't left any for you, don't worry, I'll get to your blog!

Friday, 10 February 2012

I'm Hearing Voices blogfest - part 3 (+ I'll Tumble 4 Ya blogfest)

Yep, I've doubled up and have two blogfests to answer to today! Skip to the bottom of this post if you want to see my entry for the I'll Tumble 4 Ya blogfest - and if you're interested in finding out who my 80s crushes were! hehehehe

But first, here is my piece of flash fiction (249 words in Scrivener), for the third and final I'm Hearing Voices installment. I'll say now that it's been a great blogfest, and I have read some awesome entries for the first 2 parts. Next I shall be reading your entries for the 3rd part, of course, but for's mine (again from the point of view of my character Mason, whose first name is actually Anthony, but moving on...):

          One thing I’ve learned since the world turned to crap is that laughter is the best medicine.
          Back in the days of TLC (when I truly believed love is all you need), I worked for the wrongest team in the history of wrong teams. I spouted all sorts of bullcrap and pissed people off (I rocked at it).
          Then, the Apocalypse, and I was suddenly eating all those words I used to spout. Sort of like how mobsters eat bullets, ya know? (Not necessarily by choice). Tender Loving Crap turned to wit-shattering terror. I even pissed my pants. But slowly the numbness descended, and I took to the streets, searching for sharp edges: Understanding. Acceptance. Direction.
          I just found anger
          And a new family (not in that order).
          These people started stalking me, out in the open—(My initial assessment? Morons). But they wanted me to see them.
          To…lead them.
          Cue righteous indignation (or entitled prickdom). ‘Cause Like I need MORE problems, right? But they stared at me with their big, scared eyes, and I caved.
          That was when anger washed out and laughter washed in. Yep, I started laughing. ‘Cause sometimes it’s all you can do. No time to fall down crying. So just laugh.
          It is good medicine. I’ll stand by that one till the day I die.
          But listen, that’s all I’ve got time for. We’re going grocery shopping. ‘Cause Misovic needs more batteries (and a sense of humour).
          Aw come on. That’s funny.

And now, for the big reveal of my 80s crush(es):

This is no joke. While I did love the cartoon, my crush on the heroes in a half shell only got going for realz when the first feature film came out (incidentally, I still adore the soundtrack for that movie - I even own it on CD!). It was really cool when I was in year 5 and 6 to draw the TMNT characters. But I was never any good at it (I'm still inclined to believe because I can't draw guys for crap - not even turtle guys).

I'll also admit to a tiny little crush on Australian musical icon John Farnham in the Whispering Jack era (hey, sue me, I was 6 when it was released! hehehe):

A quick public service announcement

If your blog has word verification, I can't leave you comments today. I get the same word for every single post I try to leave, and though I enter the letters in correct sequence, I keep getting told that I've done it wrong. Problem is, it never refreshes to a new word for me to try. So, if you've got word verification enabled, people, you're missing out on comments from me!

To my way of thinking, this is just another good reason to remove word verification from your blogs (the other reason being that it's incredibly annoying!).

I'll be back later today with a piece of flash fiction for the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest - a piece I have yet to write.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

I'm Hearing Voices blogfest - part 2 (dialogue)

Here we are, continuing with the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest (which has been soooo very fun already!). Today's task is as follows:

February 8th - Wednesday - Dialogue Introduction: Have two characters introduce each other using only dialogue—no backstory, no internalization, just dialogue between the two. Max 250 words.

My interview takes place between Mason and an unnamed "banshee" woman he meets fairly early on in the story.

Mason: Yo, girly, you got a minute? 
Banshee: Hmph.
Mason: Okay then. Look, uh, you see all these people staring at us? You’re meant to introduce me, and then I can introduce you. It’s just a thing...know what I’m sayin’?
Banshee: Meh. 
Mason: Right. Well ...hey everyone. My name’ wait, that’s her job. MY job is to introduce her. And I don’t know her name, but I can tell you she’s a banshee. And I always thought those freaks were all deadly and, like, hated my guts. But lately I’m getting the sneaking suspicion there’s more to them than meets the eye. I’m starting to think that we’ve all been deceived and they’re some seriously convenient scapegoats. Basically, my world’s being tipped upside down and I’m finding...hey wait, I’m meant to talk about her, not me. And so... this here is a banshee. She looks kind of evil, right? Dirty, messed up, with tangled hair and stuff. Well, she’s not so much evil as...hard done by. 
Okay! I think we’re done here, right? Your turn, darlin’—tell these folks a little bit about me. 
Banshee: Pfft........... 
Mason: And on that note...I don’t really know where we can go from here, so... 
Banshee: AHHHHHEM! Is mean... Is listening. Mason good. There. Okay?
Mason: Hey, at this stage I’ll take anything. So yeah, I think we’re okay. Cheers darlin’.

Monday, 6 February 2012

I'm Hearing Voices blogfest - part 1

It's time for the "I'm Hearing Voices" blogfest to begin, and Day 1's task is as follows:

February 6th - Monday: Characters on the couch: Have one of your characters answer the following questions (to make this work to your benefit, choose a character who is the hardest for you to write :) Max 250 words (Not including the questions—only the answers).

I'm interviewing my character Mason, from my unfinished work JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE (which began as a Chrysalis Experiment short story).

1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret?
My biggest vulnerability is that I'm not Superman, or whatever superhero it was that had the power of invincibility. Every time I go outside there's a chance I won't come back (or that I'll get bitten by a banshee and bring that back). I'm happy to keep this a secret. Why panic people more than necessary?

2. What do people believe about you that is false?
They believe I've always got an answer for every question. I'm good at thinking of ideas on the spot. Even if they're crap ideas. But most of us are still alive, so they can't be entirely crap I guess. Still, it's stressful always being looked to for answers when you know you're nothing but a lucky juggler.

3. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why?
She'd probably say my sheer arrogance and recklessness is my biggest flaw. She's always begging me to be careful. She doesn't realise, of course, that my being more careful could get us all killed.

4. What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why?
I'm guessing she'd go with the happy accident that is my unwavering good fortune, since I'm still alive and all (and how sad is it that I can legitimately call it good fortune? It's a twisted world, my friend).

5. What do you want most? What will you do to get it?
I want to live in a world where banshees are the figment of some author's imagination and I'm just some lowly bartender or something. As for how I'll get it...well, I guess I could beg you to rewrite this damn story?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday Session #5, plus miscellany

Here we are again for a Sunday Session, in which I share what music I've listened to most this last week. And I will say that this week I've listened to a fair bit of new music, and yet the #1 I've been spinning (on iTunes and my iPod) is not new to me.

The song is "Eyesore", by a band called Women. I can't really remember how I found the song or the band, but I have a feeling it was by looking at "Similar Artists" on (similar to who? I can't remember that either!). for me is a great source of new music. There is just something about this song that I find magical. You have to listen to the whole song (yes, it's kind of long) to hear what I'm talking about. And it may well be just me, but I just love the outro to the song. It's gorgeous! Anyway, that's the song I listened to most this week, with a close runner up being from Tool.

Now, for the miscellany promised in this post's title:

  • Although I haven't changed any of my blog settings, I suddenly cannot edit posts (etc.) directly from my blog's "front" face. I have to actually go into the Dashboard or the Design area and edit from there. It irritates me.
  • My travels this year have been delayed by a week, cutting into my A-Z blogging challenge time even further than they were before. I'm going to have to pre-write and schedule my posts (and hope that Blogger doesn't mess with me). True to my pantser form, I prefer to write blog posts with very little (or no) prior planning. So this feels unnatural to me.
  • I'm on track with my weekly goals, and yet every time I feel that I have the chance to get ahead, I slack off and squander the opportunity! At least I can say my procrastination skills are as finely honed as ever!
  • My head cutty cutty-ness #2 is over and done with, my sutures are out and I feel mostly human again. But only mostly! hehe
  • I reached 400 followers! Thank you so much everyone who follows my blog. I will say on this note that, in the early days of this blog, I wasn't aware that it was etiquette to follow everyone back that followed you (where it was possible to find their blog, at least) a lot of people who follow me may not have been followed in turn. If that's you, let me know and I shall endeavour to hunt you down (did that sound creepy?).
  • For those who participated in the Critique my Blog blogfest, I haven't got around to all your blogs yet, but I will be doing so in the next little while. And thank you to all who gave me critique. I have implemented some changes as a result already, and intend to think about doing more as well.
  • I like chocolate.
Okay, that's about it for now, so I'm going to sign least after wishing all of you a very happy remainder of your weekends!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Critique my Blog - a blogfest!

I'm thankful to Margo Kelly, whose blog post on this very subject reminded me that I have about 6 minutes before bedtime, and therefore 6 minutes left of February 1 in which to get my post up for this blogfest! I am a one, aren't I?

Seeeriously, this blogfest is happening today, it is hosted by Teralyn Rose Pilgrim, and I am participating! The whole idea of this blogfest (and a brilliant idea it was, too!) is to give us the opportunity to have our blogs critiqued, and to return the favour for other participants. Because we all know it's important for our blogs to, err, not be crap! Yeah. So, without further ado, here is how it works, in the words of Teralyn herself (but in a different font):

To Get Critiqued:

1. Include your name in the linky list below.
2. On February 1, post your request for critiques. The critiques can come from anyone, even people not involved in the blogfest.
3. If you want, specify what kind of critique you’re looking for.
4. Specify where you want to receive the critiques: in the comments where everyone can see them, or in your email where it’s more private.
5. You can delete comments after you’ve read them, or keep them up.

To Critique Others:

1. Click on a blog from the linky list and read what the writer wants you to critique.
2. You can make comments on:
a. Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
b. Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
c. Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
d. Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
e. Quality: Are the individual posts too long, too short, too sloppy, or too generic?
3. Be sure to check if the blogger wants you to post the critique in the comments or send an email.

Right. Now that that's out of the way, let me have it people!! Tell me what's right and what's wrong. Don't hold back. I want to know what works and what doesn't! And indeed I shall return the favour if you are a participant!