Monday, 27 December 2010

Technology & Book Challenges

Technology. Such a double edged sword in this day and age. I thought I’d had my moment of technological difficulties back in February. Alas, no. My computer decided to end the year with some hiccups.

So, once again I’ve been forced offline or reduced to hijacking a computer from a family member. Least this time I had some peace of mind knowing backs up were regular. The problem is fixed, but for how long. Well, how long is a piece of string?

Then, I finally get my computer back – Yay! To only have our household succumb to the storm season. Brisbane is a sub-tropical climate & though summer has been very slow to start, the tropical thunderstorms we’ve had have hit way above their weight. The whole household went offline. This was only finally rectified by Christmas Eve.

So, I’m tentatively saying out loud that I appear to be back in the electronic saddle & wading through the inbox of email, blog feeds, google reader etc.

Over the coming few weeks I’m looking at how I’m going to incorporate my blog with other aspects of my online life.

As well, deciding which Book Chick City challenges I’ll undertake in 2011. The ones I’ve done this year have been great for keeping me on track to read (& take note of what I have been reading). I’ve met the speculative fiction one, well & truly. 

The library challenge run here, not so much. Though I am mostly happy how many books I’ve borrowed (as I’m aware that due to the busy-ness of the year meant not as much reading as I’d like). 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dark Side Down Under

Time is flying. I’m certain this year someone, somewhere, wound up the clock to see how humanity copes with the speed. I’ve essentially been recovering from all the trips taken, cons attended & workshops undertaken. As well as absorbing all of those experiences.

Something else that has been stirring is the creation of the Dark Side DownUnder blog. Eleni Konstantine & Keri Arthur have been the masterminds behind this outing of the RWA Australia Paranormal group.   

We’re being let loose on the world…on Halloween no less. The group has on many occasions been a wonderful place of support and encouragement (as well as a place to discuss essential topics like who is the hotter Dean or Sam).

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Joss Whedon Post

The next few blog posts are going to be out of order. Between being ill and flying all over the place (literally) I’ve not had time to sit down and view a computer screen. However, one thing I do want to post about is the experience I’ve just had, attending Joss Whedon at the Opera House. I was hoping for awesomeness. Awesome is an understatement.

I’m one among many who find Joss their hero and inspiration. He has been behind many projects. The most well known would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Those in the know also revere Firefly (& the movie Serenity). His more recent shows have been Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog and Dollhouse. As he mentioned on Sunday, it’s a cult (& an awesome cult at that).

The talk on Sunday was hosted by comedian Wil Anderson (recently of The Gruen Transfer & Gruen Nation) who as a fan ‘got it’. The afternoon ran as follows. Joss talks, Wil & Joss chat, Q&A with audience. In the end it ran about 20ish minutes overtime though I’m sure the audience would’ve happily stayed much longer. I know I certainly would have.

Joss mentioned he was switching his format as a result of other experiences including the recent Melbourne talk. So, he started to talk about essentially ‘why’. The why he writes/does what he does. He did it in the context of his shows and how a ‘small adolescent girl with superpowers’ is a recurring character for him. He explained how this works for him – what he is doing when he does this. He calls it going to The Dark Place. You need to capitalise it with the way he says it and as a writer it resonated. Deeply. He did admit that not all writers have this (though I think admitted or not, it happens) but it is what he needs to do. Essentially, it is that place that terrifies the bejeebus out of you but as a creative person you know that is exactly where you have to go.

The Q&A portion of the session brought up a variety of topics. Specifics for shows (Firefly, Goners, The Avengers, and Dr Horrible being the main ones), the writing/creative process and a few very heartfelt thank-yous for what he’s done.

There were a lot of other things discussed and I even managed to write a few handwritten notes (by the light of my phone) which I’m sure will be referenced in future posts.

I’ve really only skimmed what was talked about – if I went into minute details this post would be a novel in itself (& really I have my own stories to tell). I have to go delve into my own Dark Place now…before I head off to AussieCon4 on Friday.

If you’re interested in some of what was talked about, go here for an interview done straight afterwards for Triple J and also read Mel Scott’s Crossed Wires for her wrap of the Melbourne talk.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Romans and Druids at Christina Phillips Blog Party.....Forbidden

Life has been hectic and is not slowing down for another few weeks. Show’n’tell posts will be forthcoming about what I have been and am getting up to (2 cons & one fangirl trip). The short version is the annual RWA conference, AussieCon4, and Joss Whedon at the Opera House.

Once I work out how to get photos from my iPhone to the computer I'll post some pics from the recent Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. While there, I was able to meet in person many friends made online which was fantastic.

I've made many writer friends over the years and haven't been able to work out the how/when/technology to share in their launches/releases (other than attending their blogs, or in person launches). Christina Phillips has the honour of being my first "go look and see". 

To help celebrate the release of Forbidden, Christina Phillips's debut Roman/Druid Ancient Historical Romance from Berkley Heat, she's holding a launch party with lots of amazing authors and fabulous giveaways! In addition, Christina's giving away a signed copy of Forbidden to one lucky person who helps spread the love. All you have to do is mention the party (you can copy and paste this blurb), being held from 1st to 6th September at

You can Tweet about it, blog, Facebook, MySpace or anything! And then drop her an email at ChristinapPh @ gmail dot com (no spaces) to let her know. Please put Forbidden Launch Party (or something similar) in the subject line. The winner will be drawn for that on Monday 6th September.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Blogging & online life

Developing a blog is an interesting experience. I’ve enjoyed online life for over ten years and yet it’s only a little over a year since I decided to start blogging.

I can remember posting until the wee hours of the morning many nights for years on message boards discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and when they started Angel and Firefly. Yes, I’m a Joss Whedon fan. It took those shows for me to explore the whole world of forums, message boards and the online world in general. Have made some awesome friends from the experiences. In fact it was on a dare to write something for an online friend who noticed way before me that perhaps I was a storyteller. I told her I’d last 6 sentences. Instead I was looking for an ending 16,000 words and original characters later. I was wrong and bam the beginning of my passion for writing flared brighter than a bonfire.

Yet, blogging is something I am only beginning to embrace and I’ve been trying to understand why it is one of the last aspects of the internet I’ve utilised. Driving home after visiting a friend (yes, visiting people in real life is still something  people do even with the digital avalanche) I understand what it is. Interactivity. With message boards, Yahoo messenger, MSN, ICQ, Facebook, Twitter, emails, MySpace etc the level of interactivity is much higher and direct. Not surprising how social networking has taken off. It’s quick and immediate. Message boards can be busy and quiet, with notes being followed at the reader’s request.

Blogging feels personal. Private. I write a journal and have done so ever since I can remember (the fact I didn’t tie this to any side of my once-repressed writer is another matter). I find blogging a little like journaling and working out what I want to ‘put out there’ and what is going to stay private has been a new juggling act.

I’ve had these thoughts about facebook and twitter too. I watch and follow some very successful writers, actors and musicians and wonder how they feel juggling the private and the public. Once it’s out in the interwebs it’s there. Doesn’t matter if you take it down, somewhere out there your words are recorded. 

Twitter is being catalogued in Library of Congress, which amuses me no end. Imagine it, a millennium from now, someone reading the archival material (assuming they retain the technology to read said material) and wondering why it was kept. As a classics student, years ago (and even today) I wish I had access to the general day-day chatter, styles and mores of an era. Cicero is wonderful to learn Latin, but really he can be very dry. Assumptions about the why behind reasons create much scholarly debate. Will that be our culture in a thousand years?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Winter Hibernation

*blows dust off the blog*

So, the monthly blogging fell by the wayside. Life happens. Teaching is tiring. It can also be a wonderful experience filled with lots of good moments but for me, it is draining to the point of exhaustion. I’ve always known this but never really understood why. My other half pointed out something that I’ve known, but never truly thought through to the logical ending. I’m partially deaf. Always have been. Since birth (though not picked up until kindergarten where it was thought I may be a) have an attitude problem or b) be deaf. No doctor has ever worked out why. The best I managed to find was an explanation when working at the university and talking to a PhD student developing hearing aid technology. His explanation gave me an understanding of why when I’m tired you could be speaking Icelandic to me and I’d understand you just as well as if you were speaking English. How does this tie into teaching? Well, teachers need to listen. As in hearing listen not that “Active Listening” stuff you are taught to do to show understanding and getting along better with fellow humanity. So, teaching for six hours a day = six hours of concerted effort in the act of listening. No wonder I am exhausted on those days to the point of wanting to sleep about half-an-hour after I’m home.

It also meant, the longer the teaching went on, the more exhausted I became. Which meant life moved to prioritising Must Do/Essential Life Stuff. I wish I could say I kept writing a lot. Over the duration of the contract I managed around 5,000 words. Sounds like a lot until the context of 5,000 would be about ten days worth of work usually.

I’m still recovering. I knew July was going to be “downtime” month when I agreed to the gig (which by the way didn’t end until the end of June). I need to rebuild my energy up for “conference season”. 

In three weeks time I’ll be at the annual RWA Australia conference. Really looking forward to it. Love meeting and talking writing. Dressing up – both in costume and for the gala night. Good times. Then a fortnight after that I’m dropping into Aussiecon4, the annual science fiction world convention. The original plan was for myself, the other half and the teen to all attend the entire con. However, it is not a good time in the school calendar (especially for a teenager reaching the pointy end of schooling & doing subjects at advanced speed).So, instead, the other half is going for the entire duration, the teen is staying home and I’ll go down on the Friday evening (once The Teen is at his father’s) and come home Sunday night.

As I said at the beginning, Life Happens.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Infernal

Wow, two posts in a month. Could be making up for the lack of March madness, er, I mean musings. The Infernal has a special place in my writing journey. In part the book itself and in part the author. I came across The Infernal in what feels like a million years ago but was in reality 1997 or 1998 while working in a university library. I was putting new titles onto the shelves for students and The Infernal was amongst them.

The original cover grabbed my attention as did the title and I decided to borrow it (alas, I cannot find the relevant cover anywhere to show’n’tell). To this day it is one of the very few (& I mean VERY few) books where I can still recall images created by the words (Kim, if you read this, I now have a morbid fear of pine trees). Kim is one of a very small handful of writers where I will automatically buy their books.

When I first decided I was going to attempt to write my first story (after the passion to write was inflamed on a dare by some o/s friends) I was trapped by research. Having a degree in ancient civilizations meant I’d spent many hours delving deeply into knowledge of topics. I was fairly sure that fictional books didn’t quite need the depth in knowledge but I was unsure (of a lot of things). I came across two authors in an anthology, Mystery, Magic, Voodoo and the Holy Grail, Kim Wilkins and Louise Cusack.

Little did I know the impact this would have on me. Very nervously I sent off an email to each of them basically asking for their opinions about research and fantasy and fiction writing. I had no idea if either of them would read the email let alone reply. Imagine my shock when BOTH of them had replied within a week of my sending the query. I was completely speechless, gob smacked, in awe (you get the idea). Plus the information they gave was (of course) very useful.

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve now have had two wonderful year-long workshop stints with Kim (through the Qld Writers Centre). Louise gently nudged me to join the Vision Writers group and is still an ongoing mentor, keeping me on the track of my writing path (making sure I don’t fall off it) to this day.

So, The Infernal holds a special place. If it wasn’t for the fact Kim scared the living daylights out of me with her visual imagery I wouldn’t have come across the anthology. If I hadn’t come across the anthology I would never have contacted either Kim or Louise. I don’t even want to say how my life would’ve unfolded (though I’m sure writing would’ve reared its head regardless of what I chose). I say my life, rather than my writing life as it has been through my writing life that I have now made a wonderful circle of (in some cases, very close) friends. Not to mention my fiancĂ©e.

Now, Ticonderoga Publications is doing a special limited edition release of Kim’s first book. Isn’t the cover pretty?  I love the tone, hues and scripts chosen. There will only be 100 created. I should drop hints to my other half. I’d certainly struggle to justify indulging in such a beautiful copy. Go here to place an order.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Time Vortex

I seem to have fallen into one this year. So much for the year being quiet. I really should know better by now. I did have a quite relevant reason for missing March online. During the mad preparations that was the Emerald deadline my laptop died. Died as in replacing the hard drive. Luckily for me, the m/s was in email land waiting for my reader/edit . One thing it did teach me, I must really want to pursue this writing thing. I could’ve quit. I could have in the tears and swearing, sometimes simultaneously quit. Stopped. Walked away. I didn’t.

The computer going kaplooey did throw a spanner in the works of my life. It didn’t help the computer was physically away for some time and when it did come home it wasn’t right. It still isn’t completely there but at least now I’m not so gun-shy of coming back online. My Google reader was approaching scary proportions with many still to be caught up on.
I’ve been amazed at how online many lives have become. Not just for writing but also socially and professionally. I had HR, pay office and all manner of things caught in emails I could not access (until recovery had occurred).

This brings me to the other reason for my absence online, or rather, my minimalist approach to online time. I have taken on an extra contract. I have no idea why given my plan this year was to write two books and get much more serious about sending the stories out into the world (I’ve whittled it down to one book to be written now). Life happens. So I’m now back in an adult classroom as well as my usual factory playground for work.

Making me organised is the way I’m seeing it. I’ll be this way until the end of June (or until the teacher I’m replacing returns, which I’m guessing will be early). Just in time for my event planning to take place.

So April is past the half way point. Least living in Australia I don’t have to worry about my taxes (that would be September for me) but juggling work x 2, engagement/birthday event planning, family and oh yeah, writing is keeping me out of any kind of mischief.

Til next month. Ciao.

Friday, 12 February 2010

What a week it has been. Wow!

I'll say it again. Wow. What a week it has been.

Saw my mentor the very lovely Louise Cusack a fortnight ago to sit down with a mind to layout the 2010 writing plan. Having finished my edits on Firewalker I was umming about what next. I have six ideas that perpetually play around in my head and figured a break (for awhile) from the Elemental Worlds was a good idea. Louise agreed and without further ado, I began researching, mulling and forming ideas for a book from the kernel of an idea. The goal was to start the dirty/zero draft beginning of March. The goal is still there, however it may now be slightly delayed.

On Wednesday morning I opened my emails and discovered I had made it into the 2nd round for the RWA Australia Emerald award. I was floored. Completely gobsmacked, speechless and stunned. I stayed like that for most of the day. I think writing this post it is only beginning to sink in as I realise I now have until the 17th to get Firewalker scrubbed and polished and sent back out again.

It was the first time I truly felt like I may be doing something, albeit small right. My goal for 2009 was to write and edit and submit a book to the Emerald. Purely for the feedback it offered after the first round (I actually had to go look up what happens next on Wednesday much to my partner’s amusement). Making it to the 2nd round had not really been on my radar. The warmth and support given by members of RWA has been amazing and I am truly humbled by it all. 

So, Firewalker is back in front of me and I’m madly getting it ready for my two readers. Then it will be a life of red frogs, coffee and no sleep as I absorb their feedback and embrace the art of polishing (it's a challenge even in my housework lists). This was the plan for Firewalker – only to be done in two months time. My pushy salamanders, mermaids and elementals are making themselves heard.

Congratulations to the other wonderful ladies who have made the 2nd round with me. I know we are all now heads down not coming up for breath except for occasional feeding.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Reading Challenge Specifics

For those of you interested in the how-to of the challenges here are the details below.

For the library challenge go over J. Kaye's Book Blog to sign up.
I've decided to aim for the Stepping It Up level (75 books). Given the amount of research and reading I do I think I should get there. Be interesting to see. 

For the spec fic challenge I'm going for the highest level - Obsessed. Given the majority of books on my TBR pile fall into this category I'd be surprised if I did not make this one.

Reading into the New Year

Wow. The first month of a new year has nearly passed me by. January always feels like that. One minute you’re looking at a calendar full of new shiny opportunities, next minute you’re wondering where in heck January went. For me it is summer, maybe that’s part of it. Like August in the northern hemisphere, January here is the month where lengthy school vacations occur (school in the process of resuming depending on which state one is in), everyone runs away for holidays/vacations and makes resolutions which most of the time don’t last past the first couple of weeks.

For me, New Year more often than not occurs around the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21/22). I feel a build up of energy and wonder what will be around the corner. By the time January 1 finally occurs, I’m already thinking of the year to come.

So, what is 2010 going to bring. Changes. A lot of them. They’ve already started happening and some I’ll post about. Another thing I’ve decided to do, in the interest of my online life is to commit to some reading challenges (if I ever work out how to set them up here). I’m always reading. My current TBR pile by the bed is hovering around the 75+ book mark (it’s down from about 90ish).

Without further ado these are the challenges I’m committing to as a reader for 2010.

The first is the Speculative Fiction Challenge. So much of what I read can be stored under this umbrella. I’m going with “Obsessed” . I found this one through Eleni’s Library (thanks Eleni).

The second reading challenge I’ve chosen is the Library one. I borrow a lot of books and make my librarians work hard. I don’t always use fiction and am curious to see the record grow over the coming year. This one I found through SuziLove & Eleni – thanks ladies….I think!

I’ve also set myself the challenge to aim for a blog post a month. That shouldn’t be too difficult….she says on the last day of January J