Thursday, 28 June 2012

Visiting Bali for the first time

I guess a lot of people think of Bali as this...
(Photograph © William Cho
For the first week of July, I'll be "overseas" in Bali, not far from where I actually live. Bali is a really popular tourist destination for Australians, and in particular (I think) Western Australians. People love that it's cheap, they love the beaches, they love the food. But I've never been that interested in visiting Bali. That's why I've never been before!

I wouldn't be going now, either, except that I've got a wedding to attend. My brother's best mate is getting hitched. Me and a bunch of family (mostly the family visiting from Canada) will be hanging out in a villa all our own (ours for a week at least), living the relaxing Bali life. I've been worried about the weather (I hate the heat), but apparently it should be a reasonable time of year with temperatures no higher than, say, 28°C. Here's hoping!

I'm also hoping to be pleasantly surprised in other ways - to have my expectations far surpassed (in a good way). I think the problem is, though, that I already live in paradise. I live by beautiful, clean oceans in a city that is, by most standards, well taken care of. I live in a place where, on a hot day, swimming in the ocean will actually cool you down. I live in a place where going out on the streets isn't going to make you wish you were the only person alive on the planet (I hate crowds). And I live in a place where you don't have to barter haggle if you don't bloody well want to. ;)

So, we'll see... I'm thinking positive. I am going to have a good time, even if it means staying in my room in the villa for the entire 7 days and avoiding the rest of humanity (besides family, of course). And as I did earlier this year, when posting about my expectations for Ireland, I will post something after my Bali visit and report on how I found it. To summarise, things I'm looking forward to:

  • Massages (happy endings not necessary)
  • Beautiful food
  • Not swimming in the ocean
  • Fishbowl cocktails
  • The wedding itself!

Monday, 25 June 2012

What I have read so far this year...

...And what I'm currently reading:

Yep, I'm still "reading" the Grimm fairytales. I don't even know where the book is, actually... Remember I decided I wanted to review each story as I went along, which meant I would have to go back and review stories I'd already read? Yeah, didn't happen. Isn't happening. But I will do it someday, I swear!!

But in general, looking at what I've read this year, I see that my reading range has really expanded since the olden days when I only read fantasy. This year I've read fiction and non-fiction, young adult and adult, historical and contemporary, dystopian, romance, murder mystery/crime, horror, short stories and long.

What has your reading list looked like this year?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

RING & SPIRAL ... two little book reviews

During this year's A-Z challenge, I posted a list of books from my GoodReads TBR shelf. I have only read one of those on the list so far, and I'm here to post a little review of it. The book is RING by Koji Suzuki, and I also read its sequel SPIRAL, which I will review further down.

This book had been on my physical TBR shelf for the whole year, and on my GoodReads shelf for a lot longer. I only picked it up in May after the A-Z challenge. I saw the Hollywood version of the movie at the cinemas back when it came out, and got the super heebie jeebies from that - in a good way, thought it was just the right kind of creepy! I haven't seen the Japanese version of the film but would love to someday.

As for the book, it was an easily digestible read. Not so high brow that your brain starts hurting, but written in strong and pleasant-to-read language. Suzuki's descriptions at times had me feeling almost what the characters were feeling (thankfully not quite what they were feeling, in the cases of those who died!). I admired the creep factor of Sadako's story. I can't say that any one moment in the book was QUITE as scary as a particular scene from the Hollywood film (you know, that scene). I did see some other reviewers mention that maybe having seen a film adaptation, the book was no longer quite as scary (lacking in the shock factor). This could be the case with me too. But I think Suzuki's a bit of a genius. What an imagination!

I didn't know what to expect from this one, after reading RING. From the very beginning I was surprised by things that happened. For instance, the way Asakawa's story went. I distinctly recall my jaw dropping. While this book's protagonist Ando was reading the Ring report, I did wonder if he was going to regret it later, the way other people had regretted watching the video tape from book #1. And then, the Sadako story kicking off again! What a trip.

The sheer wackiness of the plot that unravels in this book is what entertains me most. I can't really say too much without spoiling things, but let's just say that not only did I bow down to the twists and turns of Suzuki's plot, but I laughed out loud at the strangeness of it, even while I marvelled at the notion of such events actually taking place in our world. And that's the thing - Suzuki's plots are somewhat grounded in science, at least if you're willing to think outside the box. I don't have book 3 to read yet, but I will acquire and read it soon!

In other news, I have actually begun to read another book from my A-Z "to-read" featured list, and that book is OSCAR AND LUCINDA by Australian author Peter Carey. I'm enjoying it so far, and also wondering when I should watch the movie. ;)

Friday, 15 June 2012

What inspires you?

The view from the driver's seat.

Sunset over a gorgeous,
if fleeting, lake.
I think a lot of writers are used to getting inspiration from all over the place. Personally, I find weather pretty inspirational. Blue skies are boring if they're just on their own. They have to have something alongside them to make them interesting. For me, the coolest skies are those full of huge, artful clouds. I love a rainy day, but then that's easy for me - we don't get a heap of rain where I live. Crazy storms are the stuff of daydreams for me. So some of the weather we've had lately has put a huge smile on my dial.

My pants are not usually shiny.
The rain made them shiny.
Just over a week ago, I got caught in a torrential downpour on the way to my car from work (it's a twenty minute walk). Most of the photos in this post are from the moments just after the rain stopped - and stop it did, abruptly, leaving behind a spectacular sunset. New temporary lakes had formed in the streets, and the carpark was awash. In my opinion, a post-storm sunset is far more spectacular than a boring, run-of-the-mill cloudless sky sunset.

A few days after this freak downpour, I went with family to the airport to pick up my brother and co., arriving from Canada via Sydney. We collected them not long before the airport was closed down due to crazy stormy weather. Phew, their flight landed just in time! On the way back home, we saw a huge tree that had blown into the road (and a car underneath it). Then, as we drove along the Esplanade in the city, we saw this:

The mighty Swan River floods its not-very-high banks.

I peered eagerly out of the car, hoping to see more roads in ruin. I've always been a winter girl (at least, the Australian winter...which for some nations elsewhere, basically constitutes a fine summer). But sometimes I wonder if I'm a bit of an Apocalypse enthusiast, too. ;)

What inspires you?

Monday, 11 June 2012

A pantser in Plottingland

I am, generally speaking, a pantser. I don't like to be tied down, or to set too much in stone when working on a project. It stifles my creativity somehow. Makes it all way less fun. I planned my 2012 NaNo novel, NAUSICAA, and while it made the writing experience a lot more smooth, I also found it a huge struggle to keep going after I'd hit 50k. I guess you could say I was bored. Even if the story isn't particularly boring (I don't think it is, anyway).

Most of my other novels have been pantsed to high heaven. And most of them have been written during November, for NaNoWriMo. Then again, most of my novels in the "SUNDOWN" series were written post-NaNo. None of them were particularly planned.

This month with my BuNoWriMo novel, IVY NIGHT, I found that missing out on a day's writing really interrupted my flow. Reluctantly I decided to write out a rough plan. It was pretty easy to do, because my book involves a prophecy that spans nine days. So basically the plot of the novel spans nine days. I was able to jot down notes about what happens on each of the days for each of my main characters. They're not hugely restrictive notes, i.e. "This happens, then this happens, then Ivy says this, then so and so does that". More like, "Ivy gets here and this happens." And as a fellow BuNo participant pointed out, just 'cause I have plotted, does not mean I must stick to the plot.

In other news, yesterday my brother and his new family arrived back home for a holiday, and I met my super cute niece in person and had my first cuddle. I also found out the meaning of her name, Mya - she's named after a beach down in the south-west of our state, Myalup Beach, not far from where my brother and his wife lived for three years. My brother being a surfer, it's only natural a beach would mean so much to him. :) Anyway, I think that is just way too cool! A Canadian baby with a Western Australian-inspired name.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Ivy and Jasmine and BuNo '12

At present, Ivy and Jasmine are my main characters. But I will probably have to rethink the name "Jasmine", because that is a little too Disney if you get what I'm saying. haha.

Ivy Night
is 16% complete

8433 / 50000 words written

I've wound up writing at a slow and steady pace, doing the minimum amount of words each day. Usually I'd be spewing out 5k a day or more, but I've opted for the slower run. I'm really enjoying the story. A few days back, I was not only writing my day's word count but also going back through the story and injecting more "magic" and more "Disney" into it. Enter the cute, furry animals. None of them talk, except psychically. Not yet. I'm not sure they should. But if it's going to be real Disney-like, then they should talk out loud. Still, I don't have to make it that Disney.

Anyway, my slow writing pace for BuNo means that I can also keep working on other projects during June. That's how I got my revisions of FIRE done a few days ago. I made the occasional report of how my word count was getting whittled down, but the final results are in. I went from 146k (though way back when, I stated that my word count had originally been 148k!) to the current figure of 106,923. The ultimate goal is to get it to 95k, but for now I'm putting it aside and moving onto something else.

What, I don't know. I have a lot of catching up to do on my Chrysalis story revisions, so I could focus on that. However, another goal I set myself is to revise DAPHNE this year. Yikes! That is quite a big one. But I did set the goal, so I have to take a stab at it. It's just that it's not so much revision as a total rewrite. I'm not used to those yet. ;) I also have yet to finish off VICTORIOUS, my second novel from last year's NaNoWriMo. I've been working haphazardly on that, but it'd be good to get it done and dusted pretty quickly. Maybe even within the next week. Probably wishful thinking, but it can't hurt to make it a tentative goal.

Anyway, I hope you are all doing well with your current projects, and enjoying your Junes!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

BuNoWriMo [Days 1-3], and a haunting tune

BuNoWriMo has begun!! For anyone who doesn't know yet, it's basically another national novel writing month, but one run by the folks at the Burrow. I've added a word counter widget to my "Goals" page, so you can see how I'm doing on word count. But for the record, I'm at about 5,200 words as of the end of Day 3, and that's basically me being right on schedule. I've also got within less than one chapter of finishing my edits on FIRE!! I'm so excited at the prospect of getting that done at last. I'm going to do it before bed tonight, just 'cause I want it done. I will do a proper report on how I went with that later.

For now, I need to post this while it's still Day 3, and still Sunday (i.e. Sunday Session below). I have 2 minutes. ;)

Hope you are all doing well!! I'll be better with return comments tomorrow, I promise.

In other news, it's Sunday, and time for another Session! Below is the song I've listened to most in the last week. Porcupine Tree's "Blackest Eyes", which I've always found kind of haunting, and after I looked up the song's meaning I found out why! But basically I think this song rocks at being inspirational when it comes to writing dark, dark stories. It's not exactly a depressing tune, in fact it kind of strikes me as blackly magical. But yeah, it's haunting.