Friday, 28 February 2014

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

It's the end of the month, and so time to post for the Do You Have Goals? hop (hosted by Misha Gericke & Beth Fred) as well as the Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Club (hosted by the Armchair Squid).

This month I read two books, or rather two volumes. One was The Earthsea Quartet, books 1-4 in Ursula le Guin's Earthsea series. I first mentioned this book in my "Letter E" post for 2012's A to Z challenge, when I was featuring books from my GoodReads TBR list. Only now can I say I've finally read the book. It took most of February, but on the upside, it sort of counts as 4 books, right? :)

I found parts of this "book" sort of slow to get moving, for instance the beginning of The Tombs of Atuan, but overall I really loved the read, and found Le Guin's world-building really intriguing. It's a world I'd love to revisit sometime in future (and not just when I read book #5 which I do now own). The stories were quite different, with the last feeling like a definite departure from the norm. But I really liked the last one. One of my favourite sections of any of the books was when Ged and Arren were with the raft people.

In other news, currently I'm reading The Catcher in the Rye for the first time ever (no, really). Loving it so far.

A month ago I didn't have anything fun to say, and was feeling quite flat. Next came the Winter Olympics, which consumed a lot of my attention. Probably because I hoped the TV would reach out and suck me into a wintery vortex out of this revolting swampy summer heat we're having (88 days without a drop of rain!! I feel that I am slowly drying into a desiccated husk. Help! And tomorrow is going to be 38c). Anyway, the Olympics ended and I got my life back. Except I still hate the weather.

This week I've made some progress with my revision. To recap, I first tried to start editing DAPHNE II, but after merely opening the file and staring at the first paragraph, I gave up. I hate that chapter. So I moved on to SQUEAKY, and revised up to page 37 or something before realising I wasn't really doing it right. So I went back to the beginning to edit more thoroughly, one chapter at a time. So far I've edited chapter 1 three times and will probably do so again before I'm almost happy with it. Ironic to think it was the chapter I was most happy with before. Closer examination apparently revealed the happiness to be a symptom of me kidding myself. ;)

Tomorrow is the start of March, and therefore NaNoEdMo!! I don't know if I should keep going with SQUEAKY or move onto what I planned to do (which I still haven't really decided on). I think the answer is probably obvious - stick with SQUEAKY. Wouldn't want to switch projects and stall again.

To summarise, I guess I'm inching very slowly in the right direction when it comes to my DYHG? goal.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Revision report: SQUEAKY #1

Hi everyone. Here's a report on how my revisions are going.

I had decided to work on revising SQUEAKY, and I've done a bit so far. I'm up to page 32, but the whole process just isn't feeling right. I think I have the first chapter in pretty good shape (from past revisions), but the rest of the time I'm sort of revising but also knowing I should probably read the whole chapter, decide what to do, and then revise in great detail. I guess I feel that I've just been "surface revising", changing wording, removing the occasional sentence, but not really looking at the overall structure. That won't work in the long run.

So I think I need to change tack. I want to tackle one chapter at a time (sounds obvious, right?), and work on that chapter until I really feel that I have it in good shape. That isn't usually how I work, in that I will go through a whole novel and have an idea of what needs to be done in future, while doing more of the "surface revision" sort of thing. I always know that there will be another round of editing later, so sometimes I might leave the real "digging in" work until the next round. But I don't see the point of that, really. So I'm going to hit the brakes, switch into reverse, and start over.

Of course, March is nearly here, and I wanted to revise another project during that month. All that matters for NaNoEdMo is that you put in 50 hours of editing, so I guess I could technically spend 50 hours editing one single chapter and still "win". :P I'd rather not do that, though. I want to get more done than just one chapter!

I hope you're all going well with your various projects.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

UBUNTU bloghop ~ Nelson Mandela and his fellows

Hi everyone. Today I'm taking part in Michelle Wallace's UBUNTU Blog Hop - a celebration of Michelle's 3 years blogging, and also of the African concept of Ubuntu:

"In Africa, there is a concept known as UBUNTU – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others." – Nelson Mandela.

In the time since I signed up for this blog hop, I went and saw the movie MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. For that reason I feel it's quite fitting that we started off this hop off with a quote from the great man himself.

To tell the truth, I'm largely ignorant of South African history, so I really can't vouch for the accuracy or authenticity of the film I saw. But I can say that I thought it was a great film, and a worthy tribute to the amazing Nelson Mandela.

One thing that occurred to me while watching the film was that Mandela didn't do the amazing things he did all on his own. First off, he wasn't jailed on his own. Secondly, he left behind a whole bunch of people who fought on without him.

Don't get me wrong - Mandela was an inspirational, awe-inspiring man, an unforgettable role model even before he went to jail. But when he was first incarcerated, it might've been easier for those he left behind to just give up the fight. Obviously their lives wouldn't have been easy by any means if they had, but surely to them the idea of going on without Mandela there with them must have felt pretty damn terrifying.

But those people, including Winnie Mandela herself, didn't give up. They continued to fight for their freedom and basic rights, and for that reason I think they were pretty amazing human beings as well.

Thanks Michelle for introducing me to Ubuntu, and furthering my cultural education. :)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A slight blogging slump

This was a screenshot from a few weeks ago,
but we do see a touch of it here and there still.
Summer can last almost 6 months here,
and I hate almost every second of it.

I actually wrote the bulk of this post near the end of January, but took it down when I realised I had another blogging commitment that very day. But I thought I'd post it now as it still feels fitting, considering I haven't put up a post here in 6 days!

Soooo, I am not in any hurry to post here at my blog lately. Maybe I'm still struggling to emerge from the daze that was the Christmas/New Year holidays. We also just had another public holiday here (Australia Day, for those who are curious, falls on Jan 26th every year). So I had yesterday off work and did yet more lazing about watching DVDs.

But probably one of the biggest miseries right now is the weather. To say the last I'm feeling a little drained - maybe baked or fried or desiccated are more appropriate words? Like every year in January, I am dying for autumn to come back around. I've shared my sentiments on this matter before, i.e. "I ... hate the sun (though I know I need it)". So far this year, WA's summer has been pretty mild, but we've still had some revolting 44c (111f) days. Plus, it seems to get more humid every year. One might consider that an effect of global warming, which our wondrously 21st century Prime Minister denies the existence of. Or maybe it's just the natural cycle of climate change. Either way, it blows. And it's one more reason why I just want to hide out till autumn comes.

Maybe as the weather cools and my holidays get further and further away, I will switch over to being more motivated to write here. I think it will definitely help when I actually get stuck into rewrites/revisions properly. I'll have something to talk about then - even if it's nothing good. ha.

So that's my update for now - just wanted to touch base. I hope you guys are all having a great January!

Update now that it's mid-February - I still get this 'slumpy' feeling, and am struggling to do my revision work. I think what happens is I might have a night or two in a row where I can't do the work because I have other commitments, and then I just lose the plot after that. But I'm determined to get some work done today - it's Sunday and after I come back from my body balance class, I don't have anything else on all day!

Monday, 10 February 2014

MOONLESS book release blogfest ~ Crystal Collier

Today I'm participating in Crystal Collier's MOONLESS book release blogfest. First off I want to say that I just lurve the blogfest badge below - isn't it so pretty?!!? Anyway, I'm very happy to be participating in this blogfest, and now I'm going to step aside so you can learn more about Crystal's book.

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Her nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

(SPECIAL OFFER: Until February 14th, Crystal's publisher is offering a $2.00 coupon:
Book link: code: LQJM3F84

So here's the question: If you lived in a society where arranged marriages were a la mode, whom would you beg your parents to set you up with? Why? (Literary characters and celebrities welcomed.) 

SO glad I don't live in such a society, buuuut if I did I'd give the world of LOST IN AUSTEN a shot (yes, this show is related to Jane Austen's work, namely Pride and Prejudice). I wouldn't be terribly devastated to be destined for Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, even if it did mean shoving Lizzie out of the way - and even if the apple of my eye does refer to me as "an abomination!" at one point. heh. It would all be worth it, I think, for that moment by the lake when he makes my dream come true. :)

Find the rest of the hop below!

And while you're at it, enter to win one of these great prizes!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A problem with my novel

The other night I was finally ready to get started on revisions. I decided in an instant to work on DAPHNE II. First, some history about this story:

  • I started it in 1999, and finally finished it in 2009 (DAPHNE)
  • in 2012 I rewrote it for NaNo, and it became DAPHNE II (this involved quite a transformation but with the same main theme)

(NB: Daphne is the main character, and yes, "DAPHNE II" is a temporary title)

So anyway, the other night I opened up my "Daphne" Scrivener file, and what did I see? That horrible opening to the first chapter that totally needs to be rewritten. In fact, the entire chapter needs to be rewritten.

Right now it consists of a boyfriended-up Daphne flirting with a new bad boy in her life. Which is sooooo not the intro I intended. At the beginning of this story, Daphne is starting university as a "mature age student" (she's 20). Most of the rest of her life is going to ruin, but she's determined to get through her first year at uni - and to excel. This will be one area of her life that is in perfect working order, no matter how crap the rest gets.

In short, she's not interested in flirting with an obnoxious bad boy whose main aim in life seems to be getting as many girls' phone numbers as can fit in his phone.

There's more to him than that, of course, but that stuff comes later. And right now I feel that I have a cliff face to scale in order to rewrite this first chapter and so reposition the whole story. Just now it occurred to me that maybe I should just cut off the whole start of the novel and rewrite it later, starting revisions further in. Because it's really holding me back from getting stuck in.

Anyway ... long story short, seeing that first chapter, I instantly froze, and a moment later I shut down the Scrivener file. I just couldn't do it. So I switched to SQUEAKY, which is my revision project for the time being.

Still don't know what to revise in March for NaNoEdMo.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

IWSG #3 ~ Vocab intimidation

It's IWSG time again. For anyone who doesn't know, here's what it's all about:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. The hop, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, is this month co-hosted by Sheena-kay Graham, Julie Musil, Jamie Ayres and Mike Swift.

This month I'm going to talk about vocab intimidation.

Generally, I think my vocab skills aren't too shabby. This love of words and playing around with them has got to be genetic (thanks Mum!). But while I read widely, and write a crapload as well, I wouldn't say I tend to learn a huge number of new words. I love words, and I love finding out what some of the wackier-looking ones mean, but I seem to stumble across new words by accident rather than actively seeking them out.

Sometimes when I'm reading an awesome book, blog post, or heck, even a Facebook status, I can experience a flicker (or a flashfire, occasionally) of self-doubt. I read those words and think to myself, Dude, why didn't I think of that? or Ummm, what does that word even mean!?

In particular when reading an awesome book where the language sparkles, where images and scenes stand out in vivid colour in my mind, I might start to feel a little bit small (I'm reading Earthsea right now, and definitely have had some of these "small feeling" moments!).

I guess you could say I wish I knew every single word in the world. Naturally that's an unrealistic goal, but I'd like to at least try to learn one new word a day. The problem will be remembering to do so. ;)