Friday, 31 May 2013

Faerie Tale Princes & WIP It Good

In celebration of her book release for The Faerie Prince, book #2 in the Creepy Hollow (awesome) series, Rachel Morgan is hosting this cute little blogfest that I just had to get in on - it's all about faerie(fairy)tale princes, you see! I am a bit of a sucker for fairytales, at least the "Disney-fied" kind (I've found that the Grimm versions aren't quite so romantic for the most part). So I'm here to tell you that my two favourite princes are Aladdin and Henry. I won't say more, but please allow me to illustrate:

Cute for a cartoon!

You're welcome. Right, now that that important business is taken care of, here's the even more important business: buy Rachel's awesome books, or if you're still waiting for payday, at least add them to your TBR on GoodReads!

Aaaand today is the WIP It Good Blogfest, hosted by DL Hammons and Elise Fallson. For WIP It Good, participants are sharing details of their current work in progress. Well, to be honest I haven't done much on any of my numerous WIPs in quite some time, but as of tomorrow I will be writing a new novel for BuNoWriMo. So I thought I'd tell you a little bit about the plans I've got for this June. Therefore, keep in mind that not only do I have no story yet, but the pitch and synopsis below are totally rough draft (and aren't really even a pitch or a proper synopsis).

WIP Title: ELLA (yeah, sorry, that's how I name my drafts)
Word Count (projected): 50,000+
Genre: YA Contemporary...yyyy?
How long have you been working on it?: Zero seconds.

Elevator Pitch:
(I'm not doing a real pitch or even a fake one... this is just meandering blather)
ELLA is (or rather, will be) a story of family drama, and I guess it has a dash of murder mystery in it as well. I also intend to ensure it has some sort of romance. And maybe some tears. But I dunno, maybe hold the tears. We'll see. Oh, and there will be friendship. And a wintery beach. Yeah, baby.

Brief Synopsis: 
Ella and her mother return home after a ten-year road-trip and take refuge with their long-lost family. But things at home are increasingly strained, and Ella is content to be left to her own devices. She ventures out to explore the town she lived in till she was six but hardly remembers.

As a near-friendless loser, Ella tries to uncover more of the town's history - and her own. With help from the only non-relative who doesn't mind being seen with her in public, she soon learns of the decade-old tragedy that still haunts the town. And she is shocked to realise that her own little family sits right at the epicentre.

Ella begins to regret her hunt for the truth. But whether she had sought it or not, the truth would have found her. Because Ella's mother didn't just come home for some R&R, or to have a mental breakdown. She's here on a mission - to dig the past right out of the grave...

(Yeah, that's a bit awkward. But I am loving the IDEA of the story! And that's all that matters at this stage.)

Are you looking for a Critique Partner? 
Ummm, not really. I wish I was. I mean, I have SO many finished novels that need help. But I really am a perfectionist and could never pass a work over to a new CP until I really, truly felt it was "polished". Most of my works are not polished. Not yet. Thanks, though. ;)

Are you looking for a Beta Reader?
Probably same as above, right?

Anyway, I'm excited about BuNo! :)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Travel Series: ENGLAND

In the last installment of this series, I had just finished telling you guys about the epic trip I took across the U.S.A. in 1998. Today I'll talk about the next leg when we headed for England, the country where I was born. That's the main reason we were going to England, but there was also the fact that it's a groovy place to visit, and is a definite hub on the way to Europe!

Accidentally "art".

For the first two days in London, I didn't do much at all, just hung around relaxing (and getting a sore throat). I wrote letters home, and reading them again now it's pretty obvious I was getting worn out and a little fed up. Travelling with Dad is definitely an adventure, but it does tend to wear an ordinary mortal out.

On Day 3 I ventured out into London to visit the Tate gallery and others. This was where I got to see works of Dali and Epstein. In particular, Epstein's Rock Drill was a work I was fascinated to see, because I had studied it so much in high school for assignments. It was amazing seeing these works with my own eyes.

Real type art.

Then, on Day 4, it was time to leave the big city and end our R&R. We got a National Express bus from London Victoria Coach Station and went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. From there we hired a car and explored some of the English countryside. During this time, I saw the building I was born in. Unfortunately we couldn't go inside, but at least I got to get my photo taken outside it:

Yep, I was born here.

Ain't that beautiful?

Sheepies! I love da sheepies!

Next we went to Edinburgh for a (very) brief foray into Scotland (so brief it really didn't count for much). Here we saw the "huge old castle - my FAVOURITE!" I have vague recollections of some moments in Edinburgh, but I remember it far better from last year's return trip. Another place we visited was the little town where my mother's father was born, Douglas Water, which I'm pretty sure we've all visited by now.

Back in Newcastle we returned the car, and got the bus back to London. From there it was on to the White Cliffs of Dover to board a ferry for France! I'll write about that next time.

So bootipoo!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

What I've been reading (mini reviews)

It's time to put up a book review, but I thought I'd put up a bunch of little reviews instead of one big one. So, these are some books I've read lately:

Species Imperative trilogy - Julie E. Czerneda

  • Loved this sci-fi series, not only the fascinating world-building but the characters. Mac is a fabulous main character and the series had everything I personally require in a story - action, adventure, heartache, romance, laughs, and...near-apocalypse! (okay, I don't always need a near-apocalypse...)

The Host (The Host, #1) - Stephenie Meyer

  • I knew that this wouldn't be another Twilight, but to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect. In the end, what I got was something I prefer to vampires - aliens! I was also compelled by the at-times-unhealthy romance element.

Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma

  • I thought this was beautifully written, even if I really disliked Ruby for most of the story. I found her decision at the end of the story to be quite moving, and redeeming. All in all, this isn't a happy, chirpy story.

The Beggar's Opera - Peggy Blair

  • This was a fairly entertaining read that kept me interested, but quite often I was confused as to who I was meant to be siding with. I guess it's good to have your assumptions and loyalties challenged in that way, though. ;)

I've also read these:

  • The Mermaid's Mirror - L.K. Madigan
  • How To Rock Braces and Glasses - Meg Haston
  • What a Boy Wants (What a Boy Wants, #1) - Nyrae Dawn
  • The Witches of Santa Anna (The Witches of Santa Anna, #1-7) - Lauren Barnholdt

What have you read lately?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Secondary Characters bloghop

Today is the Secondary Characters Bloghop, hosted by Rachel Schieffelbein, Theresa Paolo, Kelley Lynn, Jessica Salyer, Jenny Morris and Suzi Retzlaff. You can win critiques by participating, so get on over to the linky if you haven't already and slap your name on it! 
Now to my favourite secondary characters. It's hard to choose one or two, so I went with a larger number! And this was also just off the top of my head! So, with that said...

My favourite secondary characters (of the moment):

  • Vera's dad in Please Ignore Vera Dietz - I love his little charts. The little dad interludes brought a bit of extra lightness and cuteness to what was at times a really sad story

  • I could name countless awesome secondary characters from the Harry Potter books, but for now I'll just say I love Neville - he's one of those characters who undergoes an amazing transformation

  • Speaking of amazing transformations, can anyone say Wesley Wyndam-Pryce from Buffy / Angel? It was so amazing (and pretty tragic) watching him change from the absolute blithering weakling we first meet to a deadly, hardened warrior with serious war wounds

  • Joel Tuck from Dean Koontz's Twilight Eyes (my favourite Koontz book), who is a gentle (dangerous) giant...with a third eye:

  • From the TV series Medium, which I only just recently finished watching (sniffle! argh! noooo, what now?), I'm guessing Bridgette counts as a secondary character - she's the middle daughter played by Maria Lark, who was just the cutest little girl at the beginning of the series. Such a funny actress even at the age of 6!

  • Neale from The Lifeguard, one of those tween scholastic books I read as a pre-teen (and still re-read sometimes these days!). Neale was troubled but sexy (and, eventually, sweet)

I think I could go on (and on, and on...), and I've probably forgotten some of my most favourite secondary characters, but this is the list as it stands in my conscious mind right now! :)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Some things I've learned so far (about blogging)

I thought I'd put up a quick list of things I've learned since starting my blog. Some are pretty obvious but they're things I didn't know at the start of my blogging adventure:

  1. If someone follows you, it's polite to follow back - if I forgot to follow you back, do let me know please ;)
  2. It's good if you have a link to your blog somewhere on your Blogger profile (or Google+ profile as the case may be)
  3. When you switch your blog's URL
    • you need to change a lot of links from previous posts, as well as in your blog pages
    • all your stats get brought to the new blog, and yet Google still knows that your old blog is the one that got all the visits, so it takes time to get the new blog as well known by the Google bots - a really good way of helping this is participating in the A to Z challenge ;)
  4. You can list your most popular posts by weekly, monthly or "all time" popularity (thanks Father Dragon for the tip!)
  5. Captcha is really annoying and you can't even tell if you have it set to "on" without checking, because your own comments post just fine. Also, for some unlucky blogs, not having Captcha on means getting heaps of spam (so glad this isn't me!)
  6. There's no accounting for which posts of yours are going to get the most views - sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it!
  7. Blogfests/hops are a great way to meet new bloggers and get activity on your blog! Plus, they're excellent for those times when you're having a lack of inspiration and need ideas for what to post!
  8. Image copyright is something really important to respect
  9. The top commenters widget I'm using appears to be buggy :)

I'm sure there's heaps more I could add, but I can't think of it right now. And yes, that is meant to be a lightbulb. :)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Best & Worst Movie Remakes - a blogfest

First off, thanks to all the folks who are hosting this fun blogfest: Alex J. Cavanaugh, Stephen Tremp, Father Dragon Al and Livia Peterson. And to the rest of you out there, you still have time to sign up if you want to participate! Just click on any of those links above & head on over to the linky list.

You know, I've realised I don't really have much to say on this topic, mostly because I haven't seen the most well-known remakes, or else haven't seen the originals of well-known remakes, so I have a really pathetic knowledge-base to draw from. In fact, there is a grand total of three remake-original pairs I have seen (at least from this list on Wikipedia) that I am drawing from for this blogfest. ;)

So, without further ado, here goes:

Best movie remake:

The Amityville Horror - it isn't all that spectacular, but of the remakes/originals I've seen, this is the one that just barely nudges into first place.

Worst movie remake:

And I'm sort of cheating because this is a tie:


Total Recall - while I know that Arnie's version is extremely cheesy in some ways, it is outta my childhood and I just love it. When I saw the remake, I had a harder time feelin' the lurve. It had its good parts, sure, but it was disappointing as well (i.e. no Mars???).
 tied with


Footloose - the new one wasn't terrible, I don't think, at least from what I remember while watching it bleary-eyed on a really long plane trip. But I just can't love it more than the Kevin Bacon version.

So, there you go - my somewhat lame entry for the Best & Worst Remakes blogfest. ;)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Blog stats - a vicious cycle?

Have you guys ever checked out your blog stats and gone, "Why the heck is THAT my most-visited post?" I've been doing that for many months now, and wondering if my most visited posts are only that because they've been the "most visited" in my list for a long time now, so they are naturally the ones that new visitors are going to check out when they first pop over to my blog. To get further into what I mean, these are my top 6 posts:

  • The ay to zee challenge (2011) wrap up post! (4553 visits)
  • Every time I think I don't have to post for at least one day... (3240 visits)
  • Travel Series: NEW ZEALAND (650 visits)
  • A-Z blogging challenge "V" - Voltron (and...) (539 visits)
  • Did I Notice Your Book? - blogfest (473 visits)

Some of those I can understand being popular on their own merit, i.e. the one about my 1998 travels in New Zealand (NZ is so in right now, thanks to LotR and so on), and maybe the Voltron post - I mean, Voltron is legendary! Seriously, though, I really do think that these posts get so many visits only because they're listed as most popular and already have heaps of visits. For e.g., the "Every time I think..." post consists of very little of great value, and yet it's my 2nd most popular post by far.

What do you think?

Friday, 10 May 2013

[O&AM] - I'm atheist

It's May and the A-to-Z is over, which means I have no excuse for slacking on my usual blogging goals. So here I am to achieve one of said goals, posting for my "Out & About Me" series. This series is one in which I strive to share a little bit more about myself with you guys out in the blogging community. And as I suspected it would be, this thing can be a little nerve-wracking at times, mostly when dealing with topics like this (it's the first really "serious" topic so far). And be warned, it's kind of a long one! I really tried to whittle, but didn't do so well.

Religion is one of those topics that you "just don't go near" on a public platform. People get too riled up about it, and for good reason - it really is a deeply personal matter for many. Just like with politics, feelings are easily hurt when it comes to discussing religion. So, all in all, it's a topic best avoided. Right? Thing is, I've realised lately that I'm almost the only person out there who does avoid it. I don't mean that everyone else is out debating and yelling and shaking fists. No, I mean that many people are on their own blogs, being totally open and honest about their personal beliefs, and getting to express their thoughts on matters that mean a great deal to them. Why, then, aren't I?

That's why I'm here and saying it loud and proud: I'm atheist, dudes!

This is definitely no secret to anyone who knows me in my "offline" life, although I don't really shout it from the rooftops while at my day job, where there is a very strong Catholic bent. In my personal life, I am basically alone in my beliefs, though thankfully not entirely so. I'm almost the only one who doesn't believe in something. And by "something", I mean some higher power who watches over me, and some promise of an afterlife. I certainly believe in other types of "something" - goodness, kindness, hard work and self-sufficiency, friendship, that sort of thing. I thank my parents for raising me to be a decent human being, and for letting me make up my own mind. Even if my Dad is fond of saying, "Trisha, I had nothing to do with it!" like I was born this way or something. ha.

In high school I had a born-again friend who was sad for me that I would be burning in hell someday. Another high school friend once told me, during a particularly interesting period in her life, that she understood exactly why I might not believe that she had really and truly communicated with aliens, but that if I had seen what she'd seen, I'd really know it was true. My response was, "Well, if you had seen what I've seen, you'd know it's not." (In other words, I had seen nothing) This probably makes me sound totally close-minded and stubborn, but honestly, I am actually of the belief that anything is possible - that all the answers are out there, waiting to be found. I'm the sort of person who needs to see it for herself to believe it. Which perfectly explains how I wound up atheist, I suppose. I believe in science, and that as time goes on, scientists will catch up. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see science always at least a few steps ahead of the people who work with it daily. ;)

I believe completely that I don't have all the answers, or even most of them. And I'm totally at ease with that notion.

Being atheist makes me pretty lonely at times, I'll admit. But I never feel empty, aimless, or depressed because of it. I actually feel strangely relieved, even comforted, and I can't really explain why or how. I just do. I also feel proud, because in times of hardship it's me who picks me up and dusts me off and keeps going. I stand on my own two feet, admittedly with support from very lovely friends and an amazing family, and keep on going. I am also glad to be a compassionate human being, a person who is kind to others - people and animals both - not because somebody told me it's right, but because I feel that it's right.

None of the above changes the fact that all my friends and acquaintances who are believers in a higher power are extremely good and awesome people I am very grateful to have in my life. And that includes you all, my blogging friends, of course! So, that's it. Thank you for listening. :)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The A to Z is over - what now?

It seems like a long time since since I did any of my actual writing or revising. The A to Z naturally interrupted things, but I'm also still preparing to move house (settlement won't be for at least a month). The main thing I've been doing to prepare for that is weeding my front yard. We've had a bit of rain which means the weeds in the back have sprung up. But that's a worry for another day. My first priority is getting the front yard sorted. ;)

But back to my writing. This year I've wanted to do a lot of revising. 2013 - the year of revision. But I've realised what my problem is - I can't decide which project to work on first. A writer friend suggested I go with whatever story agents have indicated has the most promise. Problem is, only one agent has ever seen any of my work, because I haven't queried at all except on this one occasion when an agent saw my logline and requested some pages. So the answer to my friend's question is simple. But I love all my projects, and want to work on all of them at once. It's really hard to make a choice in the now.

Not practical, I know, but it's where I'm at. So I have to make a decision and then get on with things.

There's also the fact that I'm soon to release an album worth of my songs, which I've collaborated on with a guy in California. It's going to be a proper album, with a physical CD, a 12-page colour booklet featuring my artwork, lyrics, etc.. It's all pretty exciting, though bewildering as well. But I'll talk about that later, in its own post. :)

What projects are you working on?

Friday, 3 May 2013

A to Z 2013 - reflection post

I have to tell you I am still hungover from this year's A to Z, and dragging of my carcass to the computer to sit down and write this reflection post has been quite the undertaking. But the glass of wine beside me is helping me stay in the moment. hehe.


Yep, folks, I did survive 2013's A-Z challenge, and it's my third successful challenge to date. In 2011 I flew by the seat of my pants and did random posts, which you can check out here. Last year, my theme was an A-Z list of books from my GoodReads "to-read" shelf, which can be found here.

This year I focused on sharing an A-Z of Australian music. Many Aussie musicians, even our most well-known who have enjoyed international success, are not that well known globally, so I wanted to introduce the blogging world to some of my favourite (or other people's favourite) Aussie-penned tunes. I had a lot of fun this year and was glad to be able to fixate on one of my greatest loves - music - but I also found it quite a challenge and very time-consuming.

The posting: I didn't have anything pre-written, so each night when I came home from work I had to a) whittle down my list of songs (I have over 12k of songs in iTunes, to make the meaning of that a little clearer) to just Aussie songs b) choose which songs I thought worthy of sharing c) hunt on YouTube for videos for said songs, and c) compose my post for the day with links 'n all.

The visiting/commenting: My aim at the start of April was, quite seriously, to visit every single blog on the list. I wasn't really counting on the fact that a) sometimes one single blogger would have up to 6 different links in that list, leading to different blogs they were maintaining, and b) that is just a whole lotta blogs. Visiting 66 blogs a day did seem manageable, but really I was kidding myself there. I started out strong...ish...but soon enough I realised I had to get picky. In the end I mostly visited those who kept visiting me and commenting.

Reasons I may not have left you a comment:
  • You had DISQUS comments enabled - at home these don't seem to work for me at all, so I can't even load your comments section
  • You had 6 different blogs in the "master list", and I had already commented on 2 or more of them
  • Your website was so high-tech and fancy that I couldn't even get it to load
  • Your blog had so many posts about different things within one single day that I found it really difficult to even find any of your A to Z posts
  • I couldn't find your blog at all! You don't have it linked on your Blogger or Google+ profile, and I couldn't even find you on Google (obviously this was if you had left me a comment and I was trying to do so in return)
  • I gave up on the big list before even getting to the section your blog was in. Sorry! But  if this was you, see my P.S. at the end of the post :)

I was also tempted to give up on a fair few CAPTCHA-plagued blogs, but because I had taken that precious time to stop by, I generally persevered. I did wind up stopping posting on most religious-themed blogs, 'cause, ya know, I'm atheist.

What would make me want to return to your blog?
  • I knew that you wrote fairly short posts for each letter!
  • You kept coming back to my blog and leaving comments!
  • Your theme was super groovy in my oh so humble estimations. :)

Anyway...all in all this year's A-Z was a good experience, but I did find it quite exhausting. Then again, that's nothing new. I'm exhausted after every A to Z season is done! It's still well worth doing, in my book. ;)

P.S. If I never visited your blog during April but you'd like me to, leave me a comment and I WILL come and visit you. And if you already left me a comment and I still didn't visit you back, let me know that too and I will leave you at least 2 comments in return. :) I promise!

P.P.S. I finished my wine. :( But there is more in the fridge. :)