Friday, 27 December 2013

Cephalopod Coffeehouse & Do You Have Goals? [Dec.]

It's the last Coffeehouse book club meeting for the year! I want to thank the Squid himself for hosting this great little event each month - I sure hope it continues into 2014 and beyond. Anyway, onto December's read!

I read 3 books this month and rated them all 4 out of 5 stars. Since I can't choose a fave, I decided to just randomly stab a dart at one and make that December's book choice. :)

The story:
Nick wakes up in his room hungover and confused. He sees a pair of women's underwear on his floor and knows something must've happened but he has no recollection what. He struggles to learn the truth of what happened, following the few clues he has along a twisty trail.

From the GoodReads blurb:
"Nick Thorneycroft is a British headhunter working in Luxembourg. His company asks him to recruit a high-flying executive for the company's Russian business. The best candidate turns out to be smart, beautiful... and mysterious. Soon the effects of Russia’s political upheaval, and the arrival of an ex-girlfriend who won’t leave him alone, make Nick’s Luxembourg life increasingly perilous; worlds collide in this gripping, atmospheric tale."

My thoughts:
First off, I was intrigued by the description of Luxembourg. I have actually visited that country, but only briefly to step across the border so I could say I'd been there. I haven't seen nearly enough of the country, so it was interesting reading about it in this novella. Secondly, I really liked the pacing of this story - it was fast-paced but also tense and the plot turns kept me guessing until the end. I wasn't expecting it to end how it did, but it sure added to the "interest" factor.

All in all I'm happy I got to read this story thanks to NetGalley and Daniel Pembrey!

Since joining Misha Gericke and Beth Fred's Do You Have Goals? monthly blog hop (and thank you ladies for hosting such a great hop!), my chosen goal has changed quite frequently. And I have not yet achieved any of the variations of it as yet.

(that was my goal)

So how have I gone this year? Well, I haven't published yet (except for a little poem featured in Vine Leaves, which I am quite proud of, but still wasn't what I had in mind in terms of publishing "something"). This is largely due to my own slackness. Actually, it's entirely due to that. I just haven't put in the required hours for rewriting/revision.

In 2014, I'm determined not only to focus on rewriting and revision, but I am also determined to actually get into line with what this blog hop's all about - setting big, ridiculous goals for yourself and striving toward them.

So stay tuned, folks!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Goals 2013 - an evaluation

I usually finish out each year with a review of what I achieved in the year just gone. So far I've got 2011 and 2012 reflections, and now it's time for 2013's.

First off, you can see my original goal list here. Also on that page you can see my latest updates which reflect the things I did and did not achieve. But I'll mention a few here:

I did

  • make over this blog (and I think it's due for another makeover now)
  • read at least 30 books (so far I've read 48)
  • write at least once a week in this blog (or at least I will have achieved this after I post this month's Cephalopod post :))
  • write one Globetrotter post per month [except April]
  • write one (or more) book review(s) per month [except April]
  • write 1k of new story per week
  • participate in BuNoWriMo 2013
  • participate in NaNoWriMo 2013

I did not
  • read the 4 books I've been trying to read for many years - but now that I know I can read them on Kindle, I might actually be able to get them read at last!
  • write one "Out & About Me" post per month (I missed September)
  • post one music video per month with brief commentary (epic fail! Didn't do a single one)
  • participate in NaNoEdMo 2013 (pretty sure I didn't do this; have no recollection of it anyway)
  • read/edit SQUEAKY
  • finalise & revise (2nd revision) SUNDOWN IIb
  • finish 2nd revision of DAPHNE
  • create at least one new piece of fine art per week
  • scan at least 100 photos/documents per month (my scanner is also broken, so ...)

I won't even bother to talk about the "would like to achieve but not holding my breath" goals I set myself, because I definitely achieved none of them. But the above list tells me I did achieve a fair bit in 2013, even if I also failed on a few things I would have liked to achieve. All in all, I'm considering 2013 a year of high productivity in the writing area, but a bit of an epic failure in the revision area.

2014 will be different, I vow!

Sometime soon I'll outline some 2014 goals (but I can tell you now there won't be nearly as many as what you see above).

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Write ... Edit ... Publish (Dec. ed. ~ TRADITIONS)

Today is December 18th, and therefore it's time to post for this month's WEP - the last for 2013! I have really enjoyed participating in Denise Covey's monthly blogfest this year, and look forward to continuing next year. Thanks so much Denise for being such a great hostess!

This month the theme is TRADITIONS, so I thought I'd share some of my Christmas traditions, or just things that tend to happen in my life around each end of year.

First off, the place where I get my morning coffee each weekday on the way to work gives their regular customers a little treat in thanks for their loyal custom!

This year's gift was deeelish! (I ate it earlier today)

Sometime before Christmas, I tend to catch up with two of my friends in particular and we do whatever. A few years back, we went into Freo for a wander around, a hot chocolate, and probably a movie (my memory's foggy, but here are some pics from that night):

Christmas decorations in Fremantle.
I love how they deck out this beautiful big tree.
Anything that sparkles gets my attention!
This was alcoholic.
(This year we are having a Bon Jovi sleepover because we missed out on concert tickets - the gals are coming to my place for a slumber party & that also counts as our Christmas do)

Also before Christmas, the institution I work for puts on a rather decadent Christmas bash, where the bubbles are flowing, the beer is chilled on ice, and the food is sumptuous.

And the department I work in organises a Christmas lunch at one of the many beautiful places to eat in downtown Freo. This year we went to Tabella, which I already knew was awesome. We also do a Secret Santa thing, but nobody has to participate.

On Christmas Day, my mum's side of the family has some "set in stone" traditions, though these days our numbers are fairly depleted (everyone's either moved to Melbourne or to Canada!!). Anyway, our tradition is to go to Cottesloe Beach in the morning for bubbles, smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels, fruit skewers, and of course, a swim!

A typical Christmas day in Perth.
Cottesloe Beach.

Then we go back to somebody's place to eat more food and drink more bubbles:

I do like me some bubbles!
I love taking pics of glasses full of bubbly - what's up with that?

In recent years I have generally also done something with my dad's side of the family (cousins who moved here from New Zealand, and their extended family/friends), generally at my cousin Olivia's place:

They have a pool, and always show us a good time!

Aaaand last year, because my mum was working away (she has a drive in, drive out job down south/east right next to a gold mine), I went down south/east on Boxing Day to visit her:

Gold Mine Road.

So there you go. You got a taste of some of the traditions that mark the coming-up-to-Christmas time period for me.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Travel Series: a sneak peak @ 2014

Can you guys believe it's December 12th?! The month isn't quite halfway over, but holy batballs it's getting close! I can't believe it's nearly Christmas time.

Anyway, I'm not here to ramble on about how fast time is flying by. Rather, I wanted to give you guys a sneak peak at what's coming (sometime) next year with my Globetrotter travel series. I say "sometime" because I'm not really sure when my next Globetrotters post will be. Next year is going to be busy with a lot of revision and maybe a little bit of new writing (I can never help myself around June and November!). But I do intend to post at least something for Globetrotters next year.

Sometime in June 2014 it will be 10 years since I left Australia to go on a rather epic round-the-world trip (15 stops, 13 countries, 4.5 months). All on my lonesome. It's hard to believe it was that long ago, and yet it also feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in my life since then, and it's funny to think that while I was travelling the world with a super-heavy backpack warping my skeleton into an unnatural shape, I didn't know any of what I know now.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a photographic taster of what I got up to in 2004 - and I won't bother with captions or anything - a bit of suspense never hurt anybody, right? ;):

Monday, 9 December 2013

[O&AM] I think I have a phobia of stand-up comedy

I'm not a stand-up fan, for the most part. There are very rare exceptions, for e.g. I will happily watch Jim Carrey, almost as happily watch Chris Rock, and will gasp at the outrageousness of Tim Minchin (but he does music so he's a different matter entirely). But for the most part I really can't stand stand-up. And it's not just a matter of dislike, either - it's almost like I have a fear of it. If I switch the TV channel and land on a stand-up show, I will stab at the remote with a desperation I can't really explain until I've got myself safely to a new channel.

There have been shows that I've found painful to watch because they're so cringeworthy - like the UK version of The Office. Don't get me wrong, I think that show is brilliant, but I actually physically cannot watch it. Stand-up is different - it's cringeworthy but for all the wrong reasons. I get this almost claustrophobic feeling while watching most stand-up, like the walls are closing in and I just want to run screaming. I'm fully aware that it makes no sense to be almost scared of stand-up, but I'm also fully aware that it's real.

Most people I know like a bit of stand-up, and there are comedians they'd drop everything in their lives to go and see. But for my part, I'd almost rather get up in front of a huge crowd of people and have their eyes all on me (one of my biggest fears is public speaking) than have to sit through a stand-up routine. I just find stand-up so incredibly awkward and I can think of very little more boring than spending an evening watching DVDs of stand-up.

So there you go - you learned something new about me. :)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Post-NaNo slump ... ish thing (and IWSG #1)

So I finished NaNo and my word count was 106,132 words. I'm happy with the story even if I'm not yet quite happy with the writing - it is a rough draft after all. I now have twelve complete novel drafts. None of them are ready for publication or even for a final read-through by a CP or beta. So that will be my goal next year - get some of my stuff pub-ready (or at least final read-through ready).

Since NaNo ended, I've watched a lot of DVDs - Veronica Mars is my latest addiction, thanks to a friend's recommendation; and did you know there's a movie coming out next year?!! Woo! - and done very little of anything. Things are also crazy busy at work with huge projects underway (many due by year's end. ha.). So I am getting home each arvo having to resist the urge to go out and charge a 6-pack of beer to credit card. Yes, I'm also waiting eagerly for payday (story of my life lately).

So that's what's going on with me right now. And it's already December 5th!

How has the start of December gone for you guys?

P.S. I just read a news story about these guys - and I think they're awesome!

I am editing this post because I only just realised today I'm also meant to post for the IWSG - this is my first time posting, and I guess I am a bit insecure about jumping on this very large and shiny bandwagon! I have visited numerous blogs over the months/years and commented on IWSG posts - but I have always felt a bit intimidated about joining in. Silly, isn't it? But that's how I felt!

I also feel a tiny bit insecure around all the writers out there who are already published, because while I now have twelve novel drafts to my name, not one of them is publication-worthy right now. The thought of publishing something (anything), all on my own, quite frankly terrifies me. I am going to do it, but it's just plain scary. Since releasing my first CD of music, I've found out just how crap I am at selling my "wares", so to speak. And I don't doubt I'll be equally as crap at selling my book wares.

I had a taste of self-promotion when organising my first (and only) blogfest last year. That was hard enough. But trying to convince people to buy stuff I've created, as in really trying hard to talk them into it, is definitely not going to be one of my strengths.

So there you go. That's my first foray into the world if the IWSG. I'm sure I'll have more to say next time ... and yet that's another source of insecurity. What if I never have anything good to say on IWSG day ever again? :)