Monday, 28 May 2012

Travel Series: U.S.A. part 2

Disclaimer: Memory on various details may be faulty; it's certainly foggy!

Me at 17 in Times Square.
Back in February this year, I shared part 1 of my U.S.A. 1998 travel story here. I'm back now to continue the story. To recap, we'd arrived in Chicago and had arranged for our next car from Auto Driveaway. This car would take us from Chicago to Philadelphia. But with a bit of time to spare, we planned on visiting some other places first.

Heading from Illinois into Indiana, we passed through Gary where I was reminded of the famous Jackson family. Their music (in particular Michael's) has always meant a lot to me. I remember thinking about Michael Jackson growing up in that place I was seeing out the car window, albeit under cover of darkness. From Indiana we passed into Ohio, then Pennsylvania. I bought a Dean Koontz book in Youngstown (STRANGERS, an old favourite I felt the need to read again at that time), and a pack of playing cards (which I collect when travelling). Finally, we got to New York City.

Pretty NYC!
Central Park in snow.
In my travel journal I wrote about visits to Burger King, the Statue of Liberty, and the cop shop where I tried to sort out more info on 5 traffic infringements I'd acquired at a busy Manhattan intersection. No, not kidding. I still have that paperwork somewhere in my files. Ahem...! We also went to Planet Hollywood, where I was highly indignant about the enforced gratuity (we don't really tip in Australia unless service is exceptional, and even then it's not always guaranteed - differences in minimum wage and all that). I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh, and up one of the Twin Towers (sadly got no pictures of the view just yet, I did take them but they aren't scanned. For the record, the view was amazing!).

My New York homeyette impression.

We left N.Y.C. via the ferry to Staten Island. According to my travel journal, it cost us $3.00. And we stopped for petrol at an Exxon station. hehe

Next, we went to Philadelphia, where we met a guy called Chris Manos who played in a ska band (I Googled him recently and found a few articles about him, or a guy I think might have been him! here and here). Then I wound up stalking him on the internet to see if he still existed. Still not sure he does, but I hope so! Chris was cool enough to give us a lift, as we had dropped our car off and needed to get places in other ways! He also played us a tape his band had made, and I'm not entirely sure that the band was one called Public Service, but it could well have been!

New York City graffiti.
Aaaaanyway, Philly was where we got our next Driveaway Car. And that's where the next leg of the journey began. I will write about that next time. ;)

Planet Hollywood.
P.S. Yes, all these photos are from NYC. I haven't scanned all my photos from the trip yet, so my choice of decoration is a bit limited!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

BuNoWriMo is almost on! Oh, and I've been revising

Hart Johnson is one of those people who hosts the annual BuNoWriMo writing thingo. It's a bit like NaNo, but with less "a"s and an extra "b" and "u". And there is even a logo (actually, there are a few...see the rest of this post for more!):

Oh, fancy!

Anyway, to learn more about BuNo, check out that "Hart Johnson" link above. She tells you all you need to know. :)

I'm pretty excited about the project I've settled on for this year's BuNo challenge. I don't really want to say too much, but let's just say that I'm already imagining it as a slightly noir Disney movie with a serious twist. I'm not sure I can pull off serious twists. You've got to be a certain type of clever for that! But I'll give it my best and see what happens. All that matters, I suppose, is that I have fun with it.

Meanwhile, I've been chipping away at this year's goals that I set for myself. I've got the word count down from its original 146k to 114,668, but of course I have a fair way to go. My ultimate goal is to get to 95k and then put this novel away on the shelf until further notice. I've got other projects that I want to work on, but at the same time I'm excited about getting this one done and dusted. I doubt it'll happen before BuNo begins, but you never can tell I suppose!

Speaking of BuNo, I've been wondering if I can get away with using my BuNo project to kill two 2012 Goal birds with one stone. One goal is to, well, win BuNo. The other is to write at least 1k of new prose each week. Should I write my BuNo novel and try to write 1k a week on some other project? Gosh knows I have a lot of projects I could be working on!

Anyway, I haven't quite decided what to do with that yet, but I guess I'm not all that fussed. I'm more excited than anything! Bring on June!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Book review: RETRIBUTION by Jilliane Hoffman

Note: This review is taken from the GoodReads spoilerific version and stripped of spoilers, for public consumption.

It took me 7 and a bit days to finish this crime/thriller/whatever you wanna call it, which generally speaking for me is quite quick (I'm a slow reader). This book was not only easily consumed but, at times, hard to put down. Not only were we watching the present-day story of grisly murder play out, but we were also seeing main character C.J.'s own personal story unfold (or at least we were waiting to see what lay in her future as a result of her traumatic past). The two stories were, after all, intertwined.

RETRIBUTION was Jilliane Hoffman's debut novel, and I think she did a really good job. The psycho characters were maybe a little bit two dimensional - super crazy and scary, for sure, but with no apparent reason for being so. Being given no explanatory background for either character, I find that I'm still curious about how they turned out like they did. But then, some people are just born a certain way, right? Twisted, scary and basically nuts.

In general, I tended to have pretty strong feelings about Hoffman's characters - some of them I hated with a great passion, some I wanted to slap, and others I was cheering on with enthusiasm. As for main character C.J., I found myself at some moments saying, "Yeah, you go girl!" and at others muttering incredulously, "OMG, what are you doing? No! Stop!" And I guess that's how I like it. A tormented, imperfect main character makes things lots more interesting.

I gave this book 4/5 stars at GoodReads, 'cause while it's not a sheer mind-blowing 5, I didn't really have anything to criticise it for. And on the GoodReads note, I still haven't really figured out a proper rating system. Someday, I'll get there. ;)

In other news, it's Sunday, and so time for a Sunday Session in which I share with you the song I've been listening to the most in the last week! I received the new Silversun Pickups album in the mail early in the week, and have been listening ever since. Early impressions are it's a gorgeous album full of great wonders, but the song I've listened to most so far is the following:

I'm eagerly awaiting a video clip to see what these guys have done! Meanwhile, I'll mention that the song is about a friend of Brian Aubert's who had a horrible childhood but has overcome it and is prospering now. I think that's just awesome, and so is this band. Can't wait to see them live in concert again! Last time they put on a show that was one of my favourites of all time.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Great Comments Award

The Great Comments Award from Laura @ Daily Dodo and Hope Roberson.

Long, long ago, I received a blog award from someone. Then I received it from someone else. Now at last, I am accepting the award. Took my sweet time, didn't I?

What the award's about: People who leave great comments on our blogs! 
What I have to do: Award it to people who are great commenters on my blog! This task is made ever so much easier since I added that comments widget to my blog. Whee! Not that I needed that thing to remember who the people are who come back to my blog time and time again. But it does help to remind me, and it gives me links to people's profiles. 
Who I'm passing the award on to: Well, let's see... These people have left me the most comments according to my comment widget:

  1. Danette
  2. The Golden Eagle
  3. Brooke R. Busse
  4. Rachel Morgan
  5. Judie Quayle
  6. Michael @ hypotheticallywriting
  7. Lara Schiffbauer
  8. Lynda R. Young
  9. Jolene Perry
  10. Ruthie @ Live, Love, Laugh, Write!
  11. Deniz Bevan
  12. Laura @ Daily Dodo
  13. Clarissa Draper
  14. Kyra Lennon
  15. Emily R. King
  16. Ciara Knight
  17. Hope Roberson
  18. Julie Fedderson
  19. Rusty Webb
  20. Deborah Walker

And these are some extra people who have left me lots of comments over the years:

There are also others that have stopped by less often, but have left meaningful comments when they have. In particular I want to mention S.P. Mount, who visits only rarely but has been known to leave amazingly long and thoughtful comments. Anyway, today is about the Great Comments Award, which I am passing on to anyone mentioned this post who wants to accept it.

Thank you all for your great comments! I love this community. :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

First Loves Blogfest

Today is the First Loves Blogfest, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, in which a stack of people (imagine a stack of people...that'd be weird!) are participating. First off, here's the idea:

Today is the First Loves Blogfest! Your first movie, first music (song/band,) first book, and first person. Four loves, one blogfest!

And without further ado, here are my first loves!


Aww yeah, baby. Still one of my favourites, this movie probably wasn't really the first one I ever loved as a kid, but it's the one I remember most fondly from those childhood days, and is arguably the one I've quoted most often from those days. I still refer to the Bog of Eternal Stench now and then. Plus, I loved the Labyrinth-inspired fan-fiction I found around the web in later days. There was some great stuff written out there! Did I mention I own the soundtrack on CD? Yeah, and it rocks. ;)


This was the album that changed my life, and it was the first CD I ever bought. Prior to this my favourite artist was Madonna, and don't get me wrong, I still love that lady (mostly her earlier stuff, but some stuff in the last 15 years has been decent too. hehe), but Nirvana's second album was the first album that had the kind of impact that saw my life changed forever. For that reason, it's got to be my first, most classic musical love. It didn't hurt that the guy I had a super crush on back in the days of this album was a huge Nirvana fan, either. ;) We had the odd bonding moment over this album. Ahhh, memories!

The Zagor Chronicles

This was the first fantasy (other than The Hobbit, which I also loved) I ever read, but the reason I chose it over The Hobbit was that it was a book series that had a huuuuuuuge impact on my life. This was the first book series where I decided, in no uncertain terms, that the ending hadn't actually happened, those characters had. not. died., and I was going to make damn sure they never did die, at least not in my imagination. This is where I did my first 'fan fiction' without really realising what I was doing. My best friend in high school read these books and loved them, and then I started. For us, a whole new world opened up as a result of reading these books. This was the series that firmly secured my devotion to the fantasy genre, and took me to some amazing places in my life (like, all over the world travelling, for example). Plus, check out the awesome cover art! The art was awe-inspiring on all four books.

He who shall not be named

The first person I actually loved for good reason (i.e. not just 'cause he was a famous rock star or some character in a book or movie, or some guy I went to school with but never spoke to) will remain nameless (and photographless) for the duration of this post. But let's just say that he was my first love and my first boyfriend, and he really was (and still is) a great guy! It didn't work out with us because of long distance, and to this day I still swear I will never be in a long distance relationship again. It kills lurve, man. But I have no regrets about this relationship and still look back on it fondly. I was very, very fortunate to have such an amazing person as my first love.

Thank you Alex for hosting this great blogfest!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Goal update, random pics, and some music

Rain is my friend, and I
am fascinated by raindrops.
Another week has come to a close. In general, I've been rather busy. My weekend was a little crazy, and I'm glad it's over, even if it had many fun moments. I caught up with lots of different groups of friends and family. In my family we've had two babies born in May (both on May 1st, actually! And both of them girls!), so I got to meet the locally-born baby on Saturday for the first time. In June I'll meet the other baby, who is my niece. Can't wait for that! Anyway, I hope you all have had great weekends too, and are continuing in that vein for the remainder of your Sundays.

This was a recent sky. There
are a lot of skies around here.
Now time for a creative update! What have I been up to lately? Well, I've got many varied goals for this year, one of which includes writing a new song each week. I had fallen behind with that during my recent travels, but I'm all caught up now (or I was last weekend, anyway...). I'm also well ahead of schedule with two of my other goals - the photo sorting and the revision of one WIP chapter per week. In most other areas, though, I'm either only just keeping up or am well behind. I'm not worried, as I know I can catch up. It's just not ideal being so far behind in some areas.

This is one of my weirdo cats,
drinking out of a sink...
In other news, it's Sunday, and time for another Sunday Session! This last week, the song I've apparently listened to most has been the Smashing Pumpkins' b-side "French Movie Theme", a 1:51 song whose lyrics mainly consist of "Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah..." with the occasional "Bonjour!" thrown in. Genius lyrics, I tell you, but it's a pretty song and I love the bassline. Unfortunately there aren't any videos on YouTube of the proper version, only a demo in which somebody messes up the chords and Billy Corgan then proceeds to tell that person off for getting the chords wrong. "I can't believe you messed that up...!" Anyway, I think this week's results in the music listening game go to show that one can never tell what song is going to come out on top!

I'll bid you all good night now, and wish you a good rest of the weekend if you aren't at the very end of it, like I am. And happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! Including mamas who are just kitty or doggy or other pet-ty mamas, like me. ;) I got felines, and they sure can be sooky!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ohhhh those high school dances - a blog hop

I'm here, I'm here! It's not far off my bedtime, but I couldn't go for the night before writing up my post for this fun bloghop, hosted by two very cool bloggers, Emily R. King and Kelley Lynn! The rules of the bloghop are as follows:
I think this was Year 11
 - so I was 16.

Here are the rules for participation: 
1. Post pictures of your high school dances. (Make sure you tell us which one is you if they're group pictures.) 
2. Share with us your funniest high school dance story.
3. That's it!

I was 14 I think,
heading off to a
school formal.
Well, folks, I'm terribly sorry to say that apart from being a total weirdo in high school, I was pretty boring to hang around (unless you were an oddball like me, which my best friends in school happened to be!). We loved to listen to loud rock music, do silly drawings and pretend that our favourite book characters never really died and were still living on somewhere out there (okay, just in our heads...). We were total nutters, still are actually, and all that really mattered to us was that we had fun. The result was that there weren't any embarrassing dance stories, at least not that I can remember, and not that involved me dancing (unless you count any moment when I was dancing).

Even here, in Year 12 (at 17),
I was perfecting my frozen-in-time smile.
As you can see from my pictures, they're pretty boring too, but I will say I did hear one interesting story about the dance I was heading to in the picture to your left there up above (it's moved now). While my friends and I were hanging out in the dark dance venue at our school, wishing some hot guy would come and dance with us, the cops were receiving reports of vandalism occurring on school grounds somewhere. There was even a police helicopter out and about, casting its light around the school grounds looking for troublemakers. That's why some perfectly innocent boys arriving late to the dance got apprehended as suspects, thrown bodily to the ground, that kind of thing. I'd had no idea about any of this until a few years ago, when I ran into my former high school principal year co-ordinator! (I always get these mixed up) in the library where I work, and we fell to reminiscing about the good ole days. Haha.

One last picture to round off the post... Me looking slightly like a zombie vampire, quite unintentionally. I think this was one of those photos where everyone in the picture was looking in different directions:

Monday, 7 May 2012

Let us reflect upon the 2012 A-to-Z Challenge

First off...

Yesssssss I am! I made it this year. But it was quite different to last year's challenge. For one thing, I had many of my posts scheduled (the first half of April was basically taken care of before the month began). The reason for this was that I was travelling for the first half of April, dropping into Paris and being driven around the British Isles. I also chose a theme that was fairly easy to follow - an A to Z of books from my GoodReads TBR list. But scheduling is not my cup of tea, really. I am a pantser, after all.

Due to my constraints due to travels, this year didn't really have the same magic as last year's challenge. Last year, I had hardly anything planned, and each day was not only a surprise for me but for those visiting my blog as well. Last year's posts were unplanned and unpredictable. And that's how I tend to be with all my own creative pursuits as well. When witing songs, I will sit down and bash something out, hardly knowing what I'm playing. I've been known to write songs I actually can't play. I also don't plan much with my creative writing. Sure, it causes me problems in the long run (ridiculously overbloated rough drafts that need severe slash 'n burn attention), but it's how I like to work. It's how I feel aliiiiive.

Another downside of this year's challenge was that I...well, wasn't here for half of it. I attempted to participate from a distance, checking the odd blog while travelling...but as anyone who's participated in one of these challenges knows, you really have to be on the ball to keep up with it all (actually, I'm of the opinion that keeping entirely on the ball is impossible, more so each year as the number of participants grows exponentially). The A to Z challenge runs us off our feet, and oftentimes we're lucky to keep our heads above water for the month. It's not just about posting your own posts, it's about checking out 1400 other bloggers' posts as well. C.R.A.Z.Y.. Still, last year I did all right.

Don't get me wrong - I did get some new visitors this year. And I did manage to visit new people myself. But like I've said, it really wasn't the ideal way to be doing the challenge. And if I found myself in a similar position next year, I probably would bow out of the challenge. In closing, I did have great fun sharing some of my TBR list, and finding out what cool themes other bloggers had chosen.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Some writing plans for the year...and a Sunday Session!

I haven't written much in here since May began, and it's actually been nice and relaxing. I set myself a goal this year of writing at least one blog post per week, and I've always achieved that. But of course with April being the A-Z month, things got a bit full on and I was writing a lot more than just once time a week! I will also be back to write tomorrow, to reflect on my personal A-Z challenge experience. It'll be fun to read other reflection posts too. For now, I am going to mention some other things that I've got planned for the rest of 2012.

First off, in June it's BuNoWriMo time (wow, that is next month), and I've got a plot chosen for that. I had 3 plots to choose from, two old ideas and one new one. I've gone with the new one, and I'm pretty excited about it. I would describe it as being about a "Disney princess gone wrong", but I guess that doesn't really tell you much. Which is probably preferable at this stage. ;) For want of any good tentative title at all, I'm referring to the project simply as "NIGHT". As I don't even know my character's names yet, I can't name it after any of them. As for the other ideas I was considering, I may use one of them for NaNoWriMo this November. I haven't decided whether or not I'll bother attempting one of the Camp NaNo months, but I'm thinking probably not. I've got more than enough work to be getting on with as it is, as you can see by checking out my Goals 2012 page! that that's out of the way, I want to talk about music! It's been a while since my Sunday Session post, but to remind those who've forgotten (and to inform those who never knew), each Sunday I had been posting about the songs I'd been listening to most in the week just gone. This week (Sunday Session #10) the song I'm sharing is by a rather iconic Australian band called the Hoodoo Gurus. I saw these guys in concert last weekend, and in the days since, I've listened to this song a lot:

Just FYI, I also saw Fu Manchu and Black Cobra in concert last night - what a rockin' gig!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Can it be...a non-A to Z post?!

On May 7th a bunch of us are going to be reflecting on our A-Z experiences this year, so I won't talk about my experience again until then! For now, I will say it's quite a relief to be able to post about something other than what I've got scheduled for the A-Z. :)

I was going to write about my Goals and how they've kind of taken a bit of a slide, for various reasons (A-Z, travelling for a month), but maybe I'll save that for another day. Today I just want to mention that I have just become an aunty for the first time! Three hours ago my brother and his gorgeous wife welcomed a little girl into the world (as they're in Canada it was a May 1st birthday, yay for May Day babies! And both her parents have May birthdays too). It's very strange to think of my mother as a grandmother, and my father as a grandfather, 'cause they are both so youthful and groovy, but there you have it! It's even weirder to know that my tiny little 6'4" brother is now a daddy (he really was tiny at one point in his life!).

Anyway...I am going to go now, but will say "Yay!" first. There. Said it. :)