Sunday, 29 July 2012

I've been horribly busy and it ends now!

Here's a photo I ruined tonight (lost the original)
while trying to figure out the new iPhoto.
Lately, life has been a little bit crazy. I've had family visiting, and I've been travelling. And in the last week, for various reasons (including a *gasp* 32nd birthday!), I haven't had a single night totally at home. Thankfully things should calm down now, 'cause though I love my friends and family (, I sure do crave my "me" time when I don't get enough of it.

I'm also currently grappling with the disappointing reality that is my shiny new MacBook Pro. Okay, I'm not disappointed by the laptop itself - not at all; it's delightful...except when I mess with permissions and suddenly can't find any of my files in Finder - but I'm very disappointed with iPhoto. On my old laptop it was at least serviceable, and I could at least find my photos when I searched for them on my computer. In this latest version of iPhoto, it seems they're just not having that. But I won't rant anymore, 'cause it's pretty boring.

I'm still working on my rewrite of SUNDOWN, and enjoying it a lot. But I haven't done much in this last week of madness. Hopefully from here on in I won't have any more weeks where none of my evenings are entirely my own. I do hope to get to work on a first revision of DANNA, 'cause I think it's one of my more promising works.

In recent times The Smashing Pumpkins brought out a new album, Oceania, and kicked off a tour (I attended the show in my town this Thursday just gone). I've been listening to Oceania a lot. But for the last few days I've been newly addicted to a song by Lacuna Coil called "Daylight Dancer". It's from their album Comalies, which apparently is coming up on its 10 year anniversary. There's talk of a tour where they play the album in its entirety. I'd love to see that show, though I'd prefer to see a show where they played the entirety of the previous album Unleashed Memories live. ;)

Monday, 23 July 2012

A little review - OSCAR & LUCINDA

Oscar and Lucinda the movie. On my "to watch" list.
Back in April of this year, I shared an A-Z list of books from my TBR shelf. One of the books mentioned was OSCAR AND LUCINDA by Australian author Peter Carey, a Booker prize-winning work of historical fiction. It's set in England but mostly in Austraila in the mid-nineteenth century. I know it's also been made into a movie, but having not seen that I had no idea what to expect from the novel.

It took me a while to finish the novel. It's the kind of work you have to pay close attention to when you're distracted by the fact that you're on holiday in a tropical paradise. Despite that, I totally loved this book. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but soon enough I was well and truly hooked - intrigued by the quirky characters, sympathetic to their experiences and frustrated/exhilarated for them. The book had me laughing out loud even at not so happy moments, just because of the language, the silly little similes, metaphors and alliterations (which were still clever of course), and all that.

I found it interesting how one single character was viewed by others around him/her in different ways. Opinions tended to vary greatly. Then there was the way in which each character saw him or herself - different again. The story was told like a family memoir but can also be seen as an historical account. And I can't believe how it ended! I wasn't expecting that, nor hoping for it. That ending just goes to show, though, that in the blink of an eye (well, okay, a bit more slowly than that) a person can make one tiny little decision that changes everything, forever.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hookers & Hangers pt.2 (the Hangin' part)

It's time for part 2 of the Hookers & Hangers Blogfest, hosted by the ladies at Falling For Fiction. Today we're sharing hangers (last lines of chapters)! I don't think I've ever before paid this much attention to my ending lines (or even my beginning ones). First lines are crucial - this lesson has certainly been driven home. But studying these lines out of context, all on their lonesome, has given me a new perspective.

The aim of any last line is, of course, to keep the reader hangin' on for dear life. To make them hungry for more. I'm not sure that my hangers below do that, but I guess that's up to the reader!

I've chosen last lines from chapters of DANNA, as I did with my first lines, but not necessarily from the same chapters. Here they are:

  1. That way lies danger. And that’s the way I’m going.
  2. Disturbed, I turn back to the window and press my face against it, dying for fresh air and open spaces.
  3. For the first time in over a year, I wish my mother would haunt me.
  4. Now that’s one hell of a daydream.
  5. I think she was onto something and it got her killed.
  6. More fun times I have certainly known.
  7. Losing balance, falling, and vomiting up everything I ever ate.
  8. Then he’s gone, and I’m alone with my shitty thoughts.

Now, I'm going to get around to reading some more people's last lines in just a bit (as well as the first lines I haven't yet checked out), but first I want to say something totally unrelated to the rest of this post. If I were a robot (see image below), maybe I would have had more of a chance of figuring out what's in that first image. Even when I opened the image in a new window, I saw no extra detail. See why I get annoyed with captchas?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hookers & Hangers Blogfest (sounds rude doesn't it?)

I'm fashionably late for this, as I forgot it started yesterday...ha. Silly me. Anyway, I guess this way I'm more 'in tune' with my northern hemisphere pals, for many of whom it may still be the 16th of July...only just! Anyway, this is such a cool idea for a blogfest. Here is what it's all about:

We all know how important those first and last lines are in every chapter. This blogfest will hopefully get your HOOKERS and HANGERS polished making it impossible for readers to put down your book and leaving them begging for more! 
On July 16th, post the first sentence from each chapter. 
On July 18th, post the last sentence from each chapter. 
Post as many as you like!  
We will be judging everyone’s first three HOOKERS and first three HANGERS. We'll each pick two winners (MOST ENTICING HOOKER and MOST IMPOSSIBLE HANGER) making a total of ten winners! Winners will receive a 10 page (double spaced) critique and a Friday Spotlight on FFF! - Hope Roberson

So, here are my hookers...errr...yeah, you know what I mean (these are from my rough draft of DANNA, one of the novels I started last year for NaNo):

  1. Eyes to the front.
  2. First she faints, drawing all that attention to herself.
  3. Dreaming of Mack Wilson is not a good sign.
  4. “Your girlfriend is stalking me.”
  5. Once he’s done lying to Melinda, and I’m done caring about what he sent to her—did he tell her I’m crap in bed?—we settle into two chairs facing each other over one of the small classroom desks.
  6. I don’t need a capture chamber this time.
  7. The marshy air fills my lungs like rising damp.
  8. It happens at night, when the world is so quiet I can hear every thought whirling in my head.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Permission to fail

In 2011, I set myself some rather hefty goals. I achieved every single one of them. It was a hard push towards the end of the year to get everything done, but I did it! And it felt good. This year, I decided that if I could do all that stuff in 2011, I could sure do a similar amount in 2012. But this year I've found that, all too often, life has got in the way.

I'm still achieving some things, I suppose, but I'm behind in most of my goals, and it's going to take quite some effort to catch up. I know I can do it, but I've also realised this year that if I fail at some things, it's not the end of the world. I suppose I've given myself permission to fail, here and there. I have failed, here and there - like with NaNoEdMo, dismail failure there. I don't really want to take that too far, though...'cause who wants to feel okay with becoming a slacker?

Perhaps instead of working on my goals,
I'll just stare at this photo for a while...
Ahhh, Australian winter!
So far in 2012, I've accomplished the following:

  • Preliminary read through/edit of FIRE
  • Write 50k for BuNoWriMo 2012
  • Finish off NaNo 2011 novel #1 (DANNA)

But I still have to do the following:

  • Finish off NaNo 2011 novel #2 (VICTORIOUS)
  • Win NaNo 2012
  • Rewrite DAPHNE from scratch (I am thinking I'll probably use November to do this one)
  • Revise all Chrysalis stories (I'm only up to #11...yikes!)

Amongst other miscellaneous things (photo sorting, blog posting, song writing, etc.).

But what am I doing instead? Working on my rewrite of SUNDOWN. It's fun, it's exhilarating, I love it. I guess I should give myself permission to do what I love, instead of what I said at the end of 2011 I would do. Right? But I'm one of those weirdos who really wants to do what she said she'd do, even if it's a little bit akin to watching grass grow.

How's this year shaping up for you so far?

Monday, 9 July 2012

I'm back! (Bali 2012 re-cap)

Yep, here I am, ready to share my thoughts on Bali, and how my expectations compared with the reality. I must say I think I had a very polite introduction to the Bali experience. Firstly, it wasn't the busiest tourist season (thankfully). Secondly, the villa we stayed in was paradise. I could have stayed there for all 7 days, never moving from my deck chair or from the depths of the aquamarine pool. But of course I wasn't in Bali just to hang out "at home".

"Our" pool from the living area.
I looked forward to...
In my previous blog post, I mentioned things I was looking forward to in Bali (massages, beautiful food, not swimming in the ocean, fishbowl cocktails, and the wedding). I did have beautiful food but not all of it was Balinese (my favourite was Thai, unsurprisingly), and lots of massages. I did not have one single fishbowl cocktail. Very disappointing. I did have other cocktails, though. I did swim in the ocean, on one day at least. The rest of the time, I swam in that beautiful pool. And yes, I did make it to the wedding!

The entrance to our villa.
Apparently a ginger flower?
This time of year in Bali isn't too hot, comparatively. For people hailing from colder climes, it might cause heat stroke. But for me it was tolerable. Most of the time. I was sometimes being grumpy due to slight overheating. I looked forward to getting home to the Aussie winter, even as I wallowed in the pool and guzzled cocktails.

Being a tourist...

The Thai laksa thingy that
heated things up even more.
Mum and I went to Waterbom Park one day. It was the most touristy part of our trip, I'd say. We only stayed for half a day. It was silly fun. Later that day, I visited Balangan Beach, not far from Jimbaran Bay, and watched the guys surf (boooring! The non-surfing company was fun though). I also went for a swim in the lagoon there. It was really shallow but surprisingly refreshing (not tepid as I had expected).

A musical instrument
I wanted to bring home.
The day after the wedding, we drove out to Ubud, where I was hoping to see more of the Balinese landscape off the beaten track. Alas, I didn't see much at all beyond more busy streets and teeming markets. We passed the monkey forest, but with a two-month-old baby in tow, hanging out with cheeky Balinese monkeys wasn't on the cards. We spent most of our time in the Ubud market. I bought some cool stuff. On the way back to our villa, we saw some rice paddies, but they weren't those giant ones I'd hoped to glimpse.

Frangipani walkway
at the wedding.
The wedding...
We were not the only spectators at the ceremony (a crowd of locals gathered to watch from the sidelines, and other tourists also looked on with interest). It was a fairly small gathering but for my brother it brought most of his old gang (scattered to the nine winds nowadays) back together again in their old stomping ground. I also saw people I hadn't seen since I was a little kid.

The ugly bits...
In conclusion, the main bad parts of the trip were: 1) seeing stray, mangy, slat-ribbed dogs and cats that nobody is taking care of, that would be better off being shot, 2) knowing that the majority of people in Bali work super hard for very little reward, and 3) two of our party getting Bali belly the night of the wedding, and having a pretty nasty time of it.