Friday, November 17, 2017

Get In And Do It! Write!

I've been doing really well in NaNoWriMo, and I've had some great encouragement online as well as offline.

However, in my most recent post on here, one of my followers, has asked me about how I go about how I get my book onto the screen - or paper. 

Well, I find it quite easy now... but I never used to. It's something that takes a lot of practice and once you know how to get your mind into working the way you're accustomed to, you'll just sit down and write.

But, there's a few things you need to get in and do before you put any words onto the screen.

Get out a notebook and write down ideas of what you want your book/s to be about. 
What do your characters look like? 
Who are they? 
What are their likes and dislikes?
Are they vegetarian or meat-eaters?
Do they drive a car or a motocycle?
Are they religious?
What are they dressed in?
Do they watch television or read books?

The list goes on... but the best thing to do is to make a dossier of them by doing an interview with them. This sounds really strange, but it works. Sit down at your computer, pull up a fresh page and close your eyes. Imagine your character sitting in front of you and ask them questions (mentally or verbally - your choice) and they will answer. Type out what they say to you and you'll have their character type all up there on the screen. Do this for each character you've got in your book - no matter how big or small-a part they have - and you'll know exactly who your characters are.

Researching a book can take from a few weeks at a library, walking around a city and taking photos to talking to the police about things or going to your State Archives to look up some serious historical documents. In one of my first books, I had to look around another country. I did some big research around my own country first; then I jumped on a plane and took off to England for a 7-week holiday where I went through 24 rolls of 36 exposure film! I went on a proper tour of the UK, Scotland and Wales and got to see and photograph historical homes, castles and waterways all around the place. I even got to get on some great trains too! What a way to do research! 
Now, I've used some of the photos and my travel journal all these years later for a book of mine titled 'The Tour Guide' which I've finished from last year's NaNoWriMo... and it's turned out great!

Yep, research is one of the biggest things you've got to do for your book. If your background in your book and your history in it doesn't gel, your readers will know - and so will you.

Now, when you get into writing you book, there are different ways of doing it.

You can plan it to the tiniest degree; but that often doesn't work out and you'll give up before you even begin. 

Or...

You can have a rough plan of what you want to do, throw your main characters into the fray and watch them... see what they're going to do and let them tell the story. Stephen King writes his books this way; and I've learned to write mine this way as well. 

But, I have also found that world-building is a huge thing to get in and do as well. If you haven't built a great world for your characters to exist in, you'll not only lose your story, you'll lose the feel for the book and you'll end up losing your readers.

The very first thing you really need to do with writing a first draft of a book, though, is to get it all out on the screen - what I call 'blurging it out!' - to get the story out of your head and where you need to see it. It doesn't have to be perfect... it just needs to be told. Now, it may take up to 3 months to do this - relax, it's not a race (not like the NaNoWriMo), it's your book, take your time. 
My first serious book took me 15 years to write and was over 180,000 words. But I took 3 years to research it and I had about 12 books of research materials to get it written - and I was working full-time for around 3 years of the time I was writing it... so I had a huge first draft which took so long to get out there. And it's still not published.

Getting in and writing is a lonely task. You have be a person who can put up with being on your own for hours on end and yet know it's going to be all worth it in the end... what you have to do is the same thing you would do if you were going to work every day; because you are. With writing, you show up, you do the hours and you enjoy what you do. 

And this is exactly why I love to write.
I'm not doing it for the money.
I don't do it for the awards I might get.
I'm not a famous, published writer.
I write because I love to entertain and I have something to say.
I write because I have stories in my head, I want to get them out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Over 25,000 Word Mark!

Over the weekend, I hit the 25,000 word mark of my book! 

Woohoo!

This means I'm halfway there to the 50,000 words to my target of 50,000 words. Isn't this great?

I'm totally loving how the book is going too! Every time I open Word, I don't know what I'm going to write, but something happens anyway.

So, how are you going with your NaNoWriMo? 

Is it going well for you? Or are you stuck? 

I hope everything is happening for you in your book... and if you haven't reached the word count I have, don't worry. In my first 2 years, I didn't reach that far either. 

On my first year, I reached around 19,000 words.
On my second year, I reached 23,000 words.

This is my third year, I've reached 25,000 words, and I'm still going... so it gets better with each passing year.

Take your time, don't try to write it all in one hit and write a chapter or two at a time.

I have been writing around 2,000 - 3,000 words a day. Over the weekend just past, I wrote over 6,000 words - but then I felt very burnt out. However, I will be getting in and working on the next 22,000 words on an easier schedule so they'll fly past! Well, until my next post, happy reading and writing.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How's Your Writing Going?

Are you stuck?
Are you chugging along well?
Are you character having a meeting to get at your last nerve?

Well, I'm letting my characters take the lead and do what is going to happen into their own hands... and my story is taking off on its own tangent. I let my books do this for a good reason - to see how far I can take it; then after it goes too far, I take control again slowly and lead it back along the path I need it to go.

It sounds weird, but it's to flesh out my characters in the way they need to be fleshed out.

In a way, it's kinda like I'm auditioning my characters while I'm writing them into the book... it's to get them comfortable enough to take on their part, then let them jump in feet first into the life I've created for them and - well - allow them to forget that they're not real.

Of course they're not real! I can hear you saying they're not... but in the book, they are.

Now, how is your book going? 
How many words have you knocked over?

Now, it's a first draft, so don't think of this as perfection, think of it as getting it out on the page as fast a you can... edit and perfect it later on.

It's day 11... yesterday, I hit the 19,000 word mark! I'm definitely on a roll!

Until my next post, happy reading and writing!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The First Four Days

It's the first four days of the National Novel Writing Month and I'm going really well so far.

How are you all going? Are you taking part? 

If so, what is your plot about? Are you taking part in the exercises emailed to you? I'm not taking part in any of those exercises, and I'm doing this from home... as for my plot? Well, it's still forming.

So far, I've written over 6,000 words in just 4 days!

This is great! I set aside a time - anytime - during the day and just write about what my book is about... and I use up my 2 hours or so in almost no time at all! Over that time, I get a lot done. Sometimes, I get writing done, sometimes I get editing done... whatever I get done, it's all good.

Well, until my next post, happy reading and writing.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The First Week!

It's only three days into NaNoWriMo, and I've gotten almost 5,000 words written of my book for this month. And with the rest of the month to go, I've still got 45,000 words to write until the end. 

Now, not all my books are that long, but it's always nice to get them blurted out onto the computer screen and ready for editing for the next year... and I love to create new worlds during this month - and besides, it keeps my brain going making up new stories and characters.

As you can see on the sidebar, I've created another textbox to let you know how far I've come each day... now not every day will be the same big numbers, but I'll be writing every day and trying to get up to 2,000 words or so a day. This will keep me going to my goal of 50,000 words by November 30th. 

And if the book isn't finished? Well, I hope to find that I've bypassed that 50,000 word mark and keep on marching on with it to 80,000 or even 100,000 words to make the book even better than the last one I wrote. 

Wish me luck!

And if you're taking part in this great way of writing a book, I wish you the best of luck in this challenge as well. Until my next post, happy reading - and writing! 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

NaNoWriMo - Next Week!

Well, with this great event only days away, I'm really getting excited and working out ideas for what I'm going to write.

Unlike last year, I actually have a bit of a plan about what I'm going to do this year. 


I'm following the pointers I've been emailed from the site. 


I'm going to write for around 2 - 3 hours per day; no matter what I've been doing - this means, I'll get up to about 2,000 - 3,000 words typed up each day once I get going.


Because it's a first draft, nothing will be held back; so I'm going to be working on getting my story out as fast and as much as I can.


Last year, I was going to meetings at the local library, but I found that they didn't work out too well - this is unfortunate - so I'm doing my NaNoWriMo here at home where I'm comfortable and able to concentrate better.


And the main thing: I may be off the internet for a while, unless I'm on here to update my word count every three days (I promise I'll do this as much as possible). 


Otherwise, I'll be looking at my last book - 'The Tour Guide' - as well as other social events on my calendar; as my life does become more busy at this time of year. 

So, are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, keep us updated in what you're going to do with your month of novel-writing. Until my next post, happy reading - and writing! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep

With National Novel Writing Month just a few weeks away, I've been in preparation mode.

Now, if you've done this great - and challenging - way of writing a novel, you'll know it's a very stressful way of getting your ideas onto a computer screen very quickly, pulling them together and writing as much as you can in a short amount of time; then logging it onto the NaNoWriMo site every day or so.

I've been doing it for only two years, and have written two lovely novels from it. However, just the first draft of those novels gets finished a the end of that month and then I spend most of the rest of the year rewriting and redrafting it just to get in and start on another novel; while I'm working on getting the first one published. 

It's fun, stressful and amazing all at the same time... and it gets a writer writing their best - or worse - stuff! However this year, I'm going to be doing it here at home. You see, last year, I attended a group; and even though there were only two of there, we had a lot of interruptions, there was only a 2 hour time limit and I wasn't all that prepared for it.
At home, I can concentrate in the comfort of my house, in a nice comfortable chair and the privacy of my home office. If I don't want to be interrupted by the phone, I'll just stick the cordless in the other room... and ignore it for the hours I'll be working on my NaNoWriMo time.

It'll be a lot easier for me to work on my books here... plus I'll be able to bring food into here; whereas the at the library, we had to smuggle food in there and were scolded by the librarians for doing so (yep, that old-fashioned value still sticks today).

But I'm more prepared this time around. I've been thinking of what I'm going to write, taken down some notes, have done some research and now I'm more than ready to get my writing brain into NaNoWriMo next month! 

How about you? Are you doing this great exercise in book-writing? Are you up for the challenge? Well, until my next post, happy reading - and writing!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Writers Groups

Yesterday, I was supposed to be at a market. However, due to weather problems here in Brisbane, it has been postponed for 3 weeks.

So, here I was sitting at the computer fluffing around on the internet, when I was invited out to the Logan Writers Group morning meeting at the Beenleigh Historical Village.

I had no idea where it was (so I Google Earthed it).

I really didn't want to go anywhere (I was really settled in).

I packed up my writing stuff and left the house anyway.

There's nothing better than being spontaneous about something in your life. And yesterday was a good day to get in and just get out of the house for the first time in a week.

The traffic wasn't too bad on the roads and I'm glad I did get away from the house and noise of the unit complex; as when I got off the highway - at the right exit, surprisingly - and around to the place, I found it very easy to get to the historical village.

And since it's been a long time since I was there last - around 3 years - I found there's been a big museum built, concrete pathways laid and better toilets as well as an industrial kitchen. The cafe also serves breakfast! Now, that's a great thing to have in a place like this! This means this place opens at around 8am... and when you're a tourist and you have friends staying who like to get going early, there's nothing like a good place to go to bright and early - which is a museum as well - and it serves breakfast!
Well, I arrived, found the cafe easily and also found the only other member of the Logan Writers and joined her to sit and write. But first, I grabbed something to eat and a nice hot latte. Yep, writing certainly takes it out of you!

I sat there for 3 hours planning my NaNoWriMo for next month. I planned who my characters were going to be, what the plot was going to be, and how it may end. I'm still not sure how things may wrap up, but I figured out the name of the second character and how the first one gets to talk to them in the first place. This is good, because when I arrived there yesterday, all I had was an idea, a character name and the brief half a chapter written up... so I did get a lot done.

But we did get a lot talked about with our writing, about editing, publishing and other things not about writing as well. This was a good day out! Then, after the battery on our laptop and tablet went flat, she went home; but I stuck around the the Historical Village and walked around. I took some great photos of the place (for another story idea I had and an art project) and then I walked into the post office and found two typewriters they used in the Chronicles of Narnia films! Now, that was a great find; as I love typewriters! Well, until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Favourite Reads

It's October. It's that time of the year where it's Spring here in Australia and Fall/Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere; and it's the perfect temperatures everywhere to settle in and read a book without either sweating in the heat or freezing the snow.

It's also the time I get out some of my favourite books to read again... yeah, I love to reread books sometimes. Now, I haven't read that many books this year; but I did get through a few in a month or two over June or so when I had Laryngitis... and that was good. I'm reading other books over the last month; and have just begun 'Lisey's Story' by Stephen King - a great book I've had on my shelves for over a year; and yet I haven't read it yet.

I thought to add to this post a list of my favourite books as well, so you guys can see what I love to read otherwise. Some of these are books I've read years ago, while others have been recently added on.

'84 Charing Crossing Road' by Helene Hanff
'The Stand' by Stephen King
'Jigs & Reels' by Joanne Harris
'Time and Again' by Jack Finney
'The Wave' by Moreton Rue
'A Patch of Blue' by Elizabeth Kata
'Somewhere In Time' by Richard Matheson
'From A Buick 8' by Stephen King
'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - The Trilogy In Four Parts' by Douglas Adams
'The Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham
'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson
'The Spare Room' by Helen Garner
'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde
'I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings' by Maya Angelou
'The Monkey's Mask' by Dorothy Porter
'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury
'Love Is A Mixed Tape' by Rob Sheffield
'He Died With A Felafel In His Hand' by John Birminham
'Other Colours' by Orhan Pamuk
'Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemmingway
'Red Dog' by Louis de Berneires 
'The Bee-Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer

I've read about 9 of these books more than once; simply because the author has that wonderful way of pulling me in as a reader. This is something I've been working on doing as a writer myself over the years I've been writing books, stories and poetry - and believe me, when the hook and the story reads effortlessly, that's when you know it's been worked on the most. 

So, which books have you read the most from your collection? Or do you read a book once and that's it, you move onto the next ones in your Mt TBR pile? Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Chilling Out In the Heat

Today is the first day of only a few where I'm not doing much - well, okay a little housework, but not as much as I'd normally do. 

I'm not editing anything because 'The Tour Guide' is off being read by my First Reader. And I'm looking into getting the cover done over the next month or so.

And I'm also waiting for my business cards to show in the mail from Vistaprint as well - in time for the markets next month.

So, I'm going to finish up the archiving of my files in the green box and the purple boxes and put them away this weekend. And I've picked a good weekend for this as it's a real stinker of a weekend here in Brisbane.

I'm hoping to get this room all finished up before Christmas - as I believe that no matter what, slow and steady wins the race. If I rush in cleaning out books or cleaning out the business side of my life, I'll toss out something I really do need. 

I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

There's also the NaNoWriMo coming up as well, which I'm hoping to take part in again this year. From the past two years, I wrote some great works and got in and did some interesting books from that month of writing. I wrote 'Angel Love' and 'The Tour Guide' during the last two years... I wonder what I'll get done this year? 

Well, that's all I'm up to at the moment. Until my next post, happy reading.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Home Office Clean-Up

I haven't done much reading lately. But this is mainly because I've been decluttering the home office; and haven't had the time to get in and read any of my books which I normally love to read at this time of year.

There's three archive boxes blocking up the room, along with synthetic bags sitting around with bank statements and bills in them... and I've also got rubbish bags waiting to be used for rubbish - and so far, I've tossed out three bags into the bin outside.

However, I have found some written work I've been looking for and put that away to transfer it all onto the computer - this will take time as there's plenty of other work to get onto the computer and to file away as well.

Otherwise, I'm trying to find a book I read in 2010 titled 'The Traveller' by John Twelve Hawks. I found a letter I wrote to my niece - but never posted - and what I wrote about the book in it was pretty good; and I started looking for it last night to see if I could add it to my Mt TBR without success. I'm hoping to get in and find it over the weekend... I know I didn't throw it out and it's not a Bookcrossing book either.

Well, what are you getting up this weekend? You know I'm looking for that book to add to my pile of reading, and I'm also going to look at editing something for publishing. Then, I'm going to send off some of my work to one of my First Readers to see how it goes over. I really want to get something published this year. Well, until my next post, happy reading.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Inspiration

Writers are asked where they get their inspiration every day. But we can't answer that question the same way each time we're asked; it's not possible.

Some of the most famous people get their inspiration for their best-known works from the most mundane things in life. 

Haruki Murakami keeps to a strict routine of health and fitness when he's writing a novel. He says the repetition of it keeps him inspired. 

Daniel Handler says that noticing everyday things and was his way of being inspired. He saw everyday events and took them in a different way or perspective.

Richard Siken started painting after he published his book of poetry - 'Crush' - and felt he didn't have anything else to say. So, after he started painting, he began writing about painting - first about himself painting, then about other paintings. He also reads books he loves; then to push himself to write, he'll read something he hates as well. The latter makes him get in and work on new work.

Ann Patchett's way is to consider everything; then weeds out what she can't use - there's no good or bad inspiration. She says: 'Most of us are full up with bad stories, self-indulgent stories, works of unendurable melodrama. We must get them all out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath.'

So many other writers take a different take on how they become inspired. I got the above authors ways from here

But there's always the ones we already know of; like Agatha Christie, who got her best ideas while washing up. Stephen King always takes an afternoon walk - even now - every day (with a book in hand). 

How I get my inspiration is to work on other things besides my writing. I've taken up painting, and when I'm working on that - which works a different part of my brain altogether - I can figure out what needs working on while I'm painting. Other ways I become inspired is to get outside and work hard in my garden... this is most especially in Winter when my garden is dormant and my plants need repotting or upgrading to bigger containers. Otherwise, I get in and knit or do needlepoint - which doesn't sound like I'm doing much, but it's all do with with my hands, while watching my favourite tv show on dvd: 'Supernatural'. And man, do I get some great ideas from there? Of course I do! Well, until my next post, happy reading - and writing.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Spring Reading

I haven't done much reading this year - and that's something I really want to change over the next few months.

So, I've begun reading 'One-In-A-Million Boy' by Monika Wood. It's an ARC copy book my late-Grandmother's cousin gave me (as her daughter is in the publishing industry and gets them through her work) and once she reads them, well, she accumulates them in her garage. Now, she knows I love these books, she gives them to me to read and collect. I'm enjoying this one so far as it's based in one of my favourite parts of the world: Maine, USA. I've only seen pictures of the place, but I think it's a pretty place to base a book or a movie.

Then, I'd like to read 'The Shining' and 'Doctor Sleep' - in that order; as Sai King has been working hard on a lot of work since his accident. Nothin' like almost dying to get the creative juices running again, right? Well, I know how it feels - being a person who lives with Epilepsy and has almost died a few times from this condition myself! 

So, there's some of the books I'm hoping to get my nose into during the warmer Spring months. I'm not making any promises on how fast I'll be reading them, but they'll be read at the pace my brain wants me to read them. 

I'm also still editing 'The Tour Guide' and working on other written works like 'Angel Love' too. So, there's still a bit of work on my plate with books - written and from my own collection. 

So, do tell, what are you planning on reading over the next few months as the seasons either become warmer or cooler? I'd love to know. Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Busy Reading And Editing

Life has been busy lately. 

I've gotten 'ALERT! Epilepsy' tattooed to my right arm and removed my bracelet - that was on Tuesday - and that's itchy and healing now. 

I've been organising my house for another donation run at the charity store - I did one two days ago.

And I've been editing and fixing up 'The Tour Guide' this week too! So great that this book has finally taken off of its own accord and really become a great little gem... well, you know, I think so anyway. I've yet to leave it alone and let it slow cook on its own and then go back and see what kind of mess I've made of it.

But the best thing I've done this week is score some great classic novels! Ruth Park is a favourite New Zealand writer who really opened my eyes to fantasy and time travel with the book 'Playing Beatie Bow'. So, when I spotted 'Serpent's Delight', 'Dear Heart and Gentle People' and 'One-A-Pecker, Two-A-Pecker', I knew I had to have them! They'd be wonderful to add to not only 'Playing Beatie Bow' but to my hardcover edition of 'Harp In The South'... so I took them and two other books by two other authors. 

The first one is 'A Town Like Alice' by Nevil Shute, which I've seen the movie of and adore! Then, there's 'The House of God' by Samuel Shem. Now, I've never owned a copy of the former, and never heard of the latter, but I'm glad I picked up both of these to add to the ever-growing collection. 

What have you added to your collection lately which you can't wait to get your nose between the pages of? For me, I just can't choose - there's too many choices of great books! Until my next post, happy reading! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Out of the Comfort Zone!

I know! I know! I haven't been here... how lazy am I? Nah. I'm not lazy, I've been working on 'The Tour Guide'. It's nice little book, with a nice little story, and a nice little ending in it.

But really, when you're writing a story like this, you have to put in some adventure, some out-of-the-comfort-zone shit which will keep your reader turning them pages and glued to your story.

Okay... 'The Tour Guide' is a time-traveling story which is based in our present time. 

It's based in my home town of Brisbane.

All of this is comfort zone stuff. It's a place and time I know... this is great. This gets people pulled in and comfortable with who I am, where I'm from, what I love about my city and where I was born.

Now - BAM! - I get in and throw a curve ball and get you all wondering what in the hell I was smoking when I wrote that paragraph!

GOTCHA!

This is right where I can either keep you in this story or lose you in the next three sentences.

Yep, it's as easy as that!

With the comfort zone, a writer can't throw a really out-there uncomfortable thing at the readers and expect them to just swallow that huge massive blue pill (or red pill - I've forgotten which was which) and jump down the rabbit hole after that jittery white rabbit who's always late for whatever he's going for. 

Nope... ya gotta ease them readers into your stuff... otherwise they'll ease on down the road and throw your book as far as they can to get away from your work. 

Yes, you'll lose them; and you'll never get them back.

In my Flash Fiction, I find that sometimes getting people into an ordinary situation first is best... then throwing that curveball right at the end is what will keep them coming back for more. 

Then, you'll have more of a chance that your audience will adapt to other writing you've had a go at. 

The comfort zone is always a difficult thing to adapt your audience to. If you don't know how they'll react to your work when you've been writing comedy the whole time and then suddenly write a horror piece, you're better off trying out something which sounds like the movie 'House' (a horror comedy) and see how they take it. IF they enjoy the horror more than the comedy, that's when you jump and do more horror.

For me, I'm always trying out new writing styles. I've been able to pull off horror, comedy, sci-fi, paranormal, and now romance. I had to learn the last one from a few romance writers; I'm not really that great at writing romance... it's just not the first thing I write when it comes to fiction. It's really outside my comfort zone.

So, there ya go. The comfort zone in writing. I'm a writer and I have gone outside my comfort zone many times... and then I've been told by people I never go outside my comfort zone as a person - but really they don't know if I do or not. Until my next post, happy reading. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

'A Hundred Small Lessons' by Ashley Hay

Elsie fell down. This sweet, lovely lady fell down and couldn't get back up, so spent a day or so on the floor of her living room watching the sun pass over the carpet; watching the colours of the day change and how the light changed throughout the house for a while - something she hadn't noticed before - until the police kicked down her door and the paramedics zoomed her off to hospital.

But she never came back home.

This was the sad part - and a sad reality for a lot of elderly people. They are taken to hospital; and from there, they are shuffled off to a home by their family; a family who think they're doing the right thing. 
While she's in the home, Elsie's two children, Don and Elaine empty out her house. Don is a sentimental man who often stops to peruse and remember the good times over photographs, wonder over others and packs things carefully. Elaine just goes through the place like a bull in a china shop and throws out things she doesn't think is important (whether it is or not doesn't interest her - just getting rid of the 'junk' is the main thing).

However, when Don takes the boxes of things to Elsie's new home, he discovers he's picked up the wrong one and finds that everything he's given her are things she hates. The blue mug that was on the counter near the sink was Elsie's favourite... and all the photos in the box in the ceiling (did he check there? No, he didn't) were the ones she loved the most. And why did he bring this vase? It's hideous. It was then, he realised he should have had her right there.

But the house has been sold to a lovely couple who are young: Lucy Kiss and her husband Ben, with their sweet little boy, Tom. While Ben is in his hometown of Brisbane, Lucy has found this humid city of large, purple-flowering trees is strange and unusual to her. She doesn't like it that it rains so much, she doesn't know her way around as much as she does in Sydney, and the old house they bought still has the old-fashioned fittings of the 1960's. 

Lucy is finding things from the life of Elsie, things she thinks the older woman would want back at some point; but she never gets around to contacting the previous owner. She starts drinking out the blue mug she found behind the front door (why was it there?). The photos in the ceiling were beautiful, but who were they of? And does she really like Brisbane really?


I've read Australian books before - even Brisbane-based books - and for a good part of the time, I've loved them. However, as the small chapters moved on, I found it harder and harder to read them. This is a very melancholy book to read - which isn't really my thing, but it's nice to get into one of them once in a while - but I found this book very depressing. It started off sounding lovely, sweet and pretty. It had all the right turns of phrase, and made me want to read more. Then, something in it change, and I found it was becoming harder and harder to read, and I simply lost interest in it. This is why this is an Unfinished Read. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff

Helene Hanff wrote a letter to, Marks & Co., a bookstore in London on Charing Cross Road in 1949 in the hopes to find a book she's been looking for; and in return received a wonderful copy of it in return. What she didn't realise was that this was the beginning of a wonderful, long-distance relationship with the people across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Over the next 20 years, Helene and Frank Doel write letters to each other about books, authors and they get to know each other through Christmas parcels and Easter goodies as well. Often, Helene is sending off money to keep her credit up to buy books of Frank at his lovely little bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road, in the middle of London. And in turn, Frank and his wife are writing back (sometimes in separate letters) to Helene who is living in a tiny townhouse - the only luxurious items in it are the books she purchases from across the miles. 

For quite a few years, Helene promises to fly to London to visit their fare city; and Frank and his wife offer to put her up while she's there. A few times, Helene comes close to flying there, but unfortunately, she's had to dip into her 'London Funds' to pay for something which she can't do without in her life, and sadly, she has to start over again in saving for the UK. 
Then, one day in 1969, Helene receives the sad news of Frank's sudden passing. Even though she's been in hospital and her doctors have only let her home, she is determine to get herself onto a plane to see London, to meet Frank's family and to see the lovely store where all her wonderful volumes of books came from - even though it's now closed down. But does she make it there? Is she healthy enough to make the trip there and back? 

This is a true story about Helene Hanff's relationship with the owner of Marks & Co Bookstore in London. Ms. Hanff published the correspondence between her and Frank Doel - and some of the staff of the store - as memorial to Frank after he passed away. 

Helene Hanff passed away in De Witt Nursing Home in Manhattan aged 80 on 9th, April, 1997 - only days before her 81st birthday.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Reading-less World

I've been noticing all around me over the past few years - and even within my habits as well - and it's not looking good.

Our world is becoming a reading-less world. 

As Human Beings, we are sitting on our butts more and looking at the blue glowing screens in our hands, on our desktops and we're being hypnotised by the internet to put down that lovely book which is sitting next to us and to jump on Twitter, SnapChat and other snap-happy sites and get our shot of quick happiness.

This is a bad thing to happen; and it's only going to become worse if we don't admit that we're all addicted to this.

I wrote a flash fiction on my other blog titled: 'Dear Participant' which is linked through to Terrible Minds blog of Chuck Wendig's and it struck a real nerve with a lot of my readers. Chuck told us to pick an uncertain evil and write about it - an evil that doesn't look like or feel like it's going to be anything harmful, but it it is. I picked the internet... and how! In the end of the piece I wrote, I have the internet telling us that we have sold our souls to - not the Devil - but to the internet, and we are its puppets.

And you know something? That piece of writing really spooked a lot of people - myself included. I'm not saying I'm not addicted: I am. But there are some days in the week where I have a tech-free day; usually it's on the weekend and I'll get my butt outside and into the garden to mow the lawn, clean up the weeds and then back into the house and wash the floors or declutter something. After I've done some good cleaning up of something (I like to have done something constructive and that I can see has been done around my place), I sit down in my Reading Chair and write in my journal, and read some of a book I'm currently reading. It's just nice to do that... I don't care how long I sit and read for, so long I get through my pages. 

This is something I don't always get to, but as much as I struggle with my new habit of reading as much as I can, I do publicly swear that I will get myself back into the habit of reading more books again. 

You have to go back on the sidebar and see that I used to read up to 30 books a year when I began this blog... and now? I've read 2. This is piddly... really piddly... and I am disgusted with myself. However, I'm making a promise to myself to get my nose into more of my books and to get in and read more - day and night - and keep away from this dreaded computer before bed!

So, have you noticed a drop in your reading stakes over the last few years? If so, how are you going to remedy it? You have read how I'm working on my addiction to the internet... now, it's your turn to make a promise to yourself and everyone here. Leave your comment below and let's get ourselves and everyone reading more again! Until my next post, happy reading! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

'The Bee Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer

Meet Finch. He's a corporate drone who works on blogs about a product called 'Second Nature' - a type of plant life for customers where you don't have to care for them, water them or do anything to them, just have them as decoration; and yes, they're plastic. Pretty, but not much use. The customer can add flowers, wilting leaves and other such things to the plant as seasons change and enjoy the plants to the full extent without the mess of an actual house plant - but it will never die. Finch also manages a collection of blogs about other imaginary lives supporting Second Nature.

However, life isn't exactly right. He's in a small corner of the office where he's kept to himself and found that he'd been mostly ignored - or so he thinks. And it doesn't really come as a surprise to him when he's fired.

He goes home, and his world stops. He stops. He just lets everything go; and stops paying his bills, stops caring for himself and eventually gets himself evicted - but he doesn't do anything about himself until late one night, just before his internet is cut off, offering him the perfect job... and all he has to do is say 'yes' - and so he replies with that word, then goes to sleep.
The very next day, his life changes completely. A driver shows up at his door and he's driven away the city, away from the house an away from everything he's known for so long to a mansion on top of a mountain where he meets Mr. Crane, the man who owned the company he was fired from. This man wanted him for something very specific; and knew he'd be the right man for the job... oh, and could he start immediately? By the way, the pay is incredible! All Finch has to do is live in Mr. Crane's garden as a hermit for seven years. There are some conditions - of course - but they're not all that major. Does Finch take the job? 

This is a great book from a writer I hadn't heard of until I won it in a competition. But once I through the first few pages, I just couldn't put it down. This book is an amazing and thought-provoking walk through the garden of somebody's thought processes as they observe the world in a totally different way. Set in the present day, with technology all around, it's interesting to see how Finch reacts to going from having everything, then nothing. I don't think I'll let go of this book from my collections any time soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Winter Reading

Winter has finally come to Brisbane for the next few weeks - or days - and we've all broken out the winter woolies and have snuggled down in our duvets late at night reading books before we turn out the light (if we ever do!).

As for me, I've been busily editing two books and they're both going so well, I've simply forgotten to come and tell you guys about it all. 
The first book is a book filled with the Flash Fiction from around 2014. But it's not just any flash fiction. I've added on what the story really does finish like at the end - or I've filled it out more in the middle - so it either makes more sense, or makes you want to read more about it. This also makes my reader want to get onto my blog for flash fiction and compare the two to see which one they like better - the blog one I tossed up onto the internet after working on it for around fifteen minutes, or the edited one I worked on for two hours to make it sound more finished with all the spelling mistakes and grammar fixed. 

Then, I've been working on my NaNoWriMo book from last year titled: 'The Tour Guide'. This was initially a working title and it took on something of a life of its own after I started out on it; which is strange because usually I'll begin a piece of writing in this month of writing, and I'll absolutely hate it. Then, it'll grow on me very suddenly and I'll be right into it. So, the working title of 'The Tour Guide' became the title of it in the end. 
Well, I found this book on my tablet and started reading it when I wanted to know what was on my 'Notebooks' on the apps. Once I remembered that I wrote this, I realised I simply had to finish this book completely and make sure I got it published. So, I've been editing this book as well.

I've also been reading late at night before bed, instead of being on the internet. I find I'm sleeping better than if I'm on the computer for an hour. So, I'm up to the last two chapter of 'The Bee-Loud Glade' by Steve Himmer and I've just begun '84 Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff. The latter book is one of my all-time favourites I just simply love to read. It's not a huge thick book, but it's a charmingly sweet classic with its first letter starting on my birthday, but I'm not born in 1949. I love books set in a time without computers, without all the complications of the modern world. It helps me slow down with everything around me speeding up so much.

Well, that's what I've been doing for the past week. Editing and reading... at long last on the last one! So, what are you reading this Winter - or Summer, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere? How many books have you gotten read this year? I haven't gotten that many books read, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about books all the time. Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Been... well... Busy

I've been busy.
I've been sick.
I've been doing a lot of things lately.

There's been so much going on that I haven't had time to turn the calendar over in the kitchen - and yet I've turned the one over in the office upstairs. How weird is that? 

Well, I'm working hard on the first Flash Fiction book - and am around five stories from finishing it off. I can't wait to get it all finished up and sent off! It's going to look great! I just hope it sells!

Then, I can sit back for a bit and see how it goes.

Otherwise, I'll begin editing the second one quietly and slowly and it'll begin again - the late nights, the afternoons zipping by and the gallons of coffee I'll consume - to get the next book finished up and done. But it may take longer as I have written other books which really need looking at. There's 'Fry Nelson: Bounty Hunter' and 'Angel Love'... and of course 'Another Quick Read'. 

Did I bite off more than I can chew? Or is this just how I like it? Most probably the latter... I'll never know until I jump in feet first and see how the water is (or is the floor made of lava today?).

Otherwise, I've been skipping out on the computer late at night; opting to settle down in the comfort of my bed and reading until I drop off to sleep at around midnight. It's lovely, and warm, and I feel so much better when I can just slot in the bookmark and turn off the light instead of spending another half hour getting ready for bed... I'm already there, relaxed after an hour of reading.

Yep, the computer can wait late at night... after two or three hours of 'Supernatural' or 'That 70's Show' or Buffy' - all on dvd - as there's nothing really worth watching on free-to-air television anymore. I love losing myself in those worlds where nothing is real and yet fiction is better than real life.

Just like a book, right?

Yep, I've been... well... busy. Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reading Again...

I've cracked open a book again, but I've been reading at the late, late hours of the night. You see, I've caught Laryngitis - just like most of Brisbane has - and it's caused me to stay up late with the most dreadful cough!

So, right now, I'm reading 'The Haunted Bookshop' by Christopher Morley. I'm also reading a little of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy in Four Parts' by Douglas Adams. Both wonderful books and both printed at opposite ends of the same century. How weirdly strange is that for me to be reading these two books at the same time?

I'm also writing flash fiction and editing my flash fiction book as well - when I have the energy. Time isn't a factor anymore, seeing I have a huge amount of it on my hands now; it's energy. I'm so tired from the antibiotics and the coughing, I just seem to drop off to sleep the minute I sit down in one of my lounge chairs.

Oh well, can't beat 'em all. Well, until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Apologies

I haven't written much lately; and I really should be - as a writer, I normally have plenty to say.

However, I'm going through some depression over the past few weeks and it's really bothering me; particularly over the past few days. 

I haven't read any books this year - which is really unusual of me. I have bought books, but haven't read anything at all. I've started books, but didn't get past the second chapter. 
I'm editing my first flash fiction book, and that's going really well. And I think it's that which is holding me back from reading anything. 

I'm also attending art school, which is taking up a fair bit of my time - and I'm loving to bits as well! But because depression can be a really horrible thing for our minds, I'm not keeping quiet about it; simply because it can be a real killer for creatives. 

So, I'm putting it out there for you all to know: I suffer from depression. At times it is from the weather - but I love the colder times of the year; so it's not that. Mainly, it's where I live right now, the fact that I can't get a bank loan and that I'm financially stuck without much money to buy a house of my own or enough money to rent one from anyone else which is really getting me down.

I'm just hoping this passes soon and I'm myself again... I mean, I missed out on my favourite television program last night - 'Supernatural' - which I never miss. Yep, I'm really that bad I forgot to watch it at 9:30pm. Well, I am hoping to work on my depression and getting rid of it soon. Until my next post, happy reading. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Second-Hand vs Brand New

To me, a book is a book, no matter where it comes from. It tells me a story and I love the written word - but I'm very much a traditionalist and enjoy the textile feel and smell - the very scent and odour - of a real book in my hands. 

However to a lot of people, it's not a book unless the spine hasn't been cracked. And I for one don't understand why I should spend so much money on a book when a second-hand book is just as good as a brand new one - just a little more used and little older. 

So, seeing I buy a lot of my reading material at second-hand book stores and at markets, it made me wonder if where you get books makes a difference.

More often than not, I've seen garage sales filled with reading material which people have collected and found none of their family wants. And this also has me wondering what will happen to my collection as I age (and believe me, I'm getting to a point where I have to stop worrying about it). 

But really, as I wandered around the Vinnies and the Salvation Army stores at Stones Corner today here in Brisbane, I wondered quietly to myself: who donated these books, where did they come from and are some of these from a deceased estate? I found it kind of sad that these books will end up in landfill if they're not sold at these charity stores. 

So, does it make a difference if your books come from a charity store, second-hand store or book exchange or if you buy them brand new or online? Or is it all the same, so long you can read it? Until my next post, happy reading.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Book's Meaning

I was at my parents' house yesterday, flipping through 'Time and Again' by Jack Finney, while they were watching 'Silent Witness' on television. 

They had just spent a week away house sitting a gorgeous house and two just-as gorgeous border collies; and barely watched any television. Mum read her books, did some of jig-saw puzzle and walked around an impressive garden. However, the swimming pool wasn't touched; as it's becoming a little chilly to swim now.

But only days into being back at home, they're right back into their old routine of watching hours upon hours of television in the afternoons. Okay, they read for a few hours in the morning, but I worry about how much time they spend watching television when they have so much more in life they could be doing. 

Mum keeps on telling me she'd love to write a book about her life 'one day'. But she never gets started on it. I have been writing one; and it's not the easiest thing to write. Not everyone will like it, not everyone will agree with what you've written, and not everyone will be shown in the best light... but it's about my life not theirs. If they want to read about their lives, they can write a book about their life. 

I've just read an article about how precious books have become to us now; and how they change the way we think from year to year. I've been collecting books since I was 4 years old, when they used to be an escape for me. I was born with Epilepsy and so reading helped me escape the problems, doctor's appointments and complications that came with that condition. 
Now I'm older, I read for the pure enjoyment of the experience of the escape. There's nothing to escape from. Normally, if I can't find what I want to escape into, I start writing about it - as I'm a writer as well. There's nothing like the sheer joy of creating worlds of your very own from nothing but a blank page; and then perfecting it - taking the time to perfect it - and hoping it takes off at some point and getting it published. 

Books are - in essence - tiny universes between the covers of an author's imagination. It's not often a writer will tell you exactly what's on their mind, however, if you'd like to know what a writer is truly like, look at their book collection (and a writer who doesn't have a book collection - a physical book collection - is one to be suspicious of). I have a room filled to the brim with books of all kinds. And being an artist as well, I integrate books into my paintings and artworks to show how much I can't live without books in my life. 

So, what kinds of meanings do books have for you? Do you collect them to read a huge series like 'The Wheel of Time'? Or do you have a favourite author or two who you've been following since you were in high school? Or is it something you've had to do because you're studying to be in the sciences or something more complex? Until my next post, happy reading. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Month Is Almost Gone!

I'm so sorry I haven't been posting in here. But not much has been going on. I've been reading a few Flash Fictions - and also writing them as well. I wrote one about Easter and the Easter Egg Hunt in the past week; and I'll see if I can get in and write a few more on my blog to keep it active enough.

Then, I started editing more stories for my Flash Fiction book for the end of the year. This is exciting... some of the stories are really coming together. I can't wait to get them all into one PDF file and looking great!
But I've done this self-publishing thing before, though and it's very time-consuming. So, I hope it works out this time.

Anyway, I've been getting my nose into a book or two. There's 'The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy: the Trilogy in Four Parts' by Douglas Adams and 'Good Reading Magazine' - this month's issue - which as had me glued to its pages. 

I'm also learning to work with oils in my paintings; and so I'm working on new paintings for my Book-Art exhibition I'm hoping to get into the Logan Artists Association in the next year - if they have space for what I have. I still have a long way to go in the Book-Art theme... but it's all working out. 

Otherwise, my book-collecting life is going well. I found a second edition copy of 'Roots' by Alex Haley from 1977 in hardcover. And I also found an fictional autobiography by Clive James. I'm looking forward to reading both these books in the future. Well, until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Watcha Readin'?

It's been a while since I jumped on here and posted to you guys. But there's a good reason for this; as you know. I've been editing and writing a book. Well, okay... a few books. 

And I've been book shopping too.

However, my whole life has done a backflip and I've been getting back into the arts and have joined the Logan Artists Association so I can get my book-art back on track and I can sell my works to people... yep, I'm taking up my painting again. However, it's not acrylics. It's oil painting I'm learning; and it's wonderful!

Okay, oil painting is a lot messier than acrylic painting, but it's a lot more fun, the paint goes further and adds more character than acrylics. But while I'm doing my paintings, I'm also thinking about what books to read next, what to write next and I'm also still writing flash fiction as well.

My flash fiction book is taking shape and I'm working on it bit by bit (I'm up to story 11 I think) and I'm looking at how to get it all pulled together into a PDF. This is one huge file to make it a book. Then, there's the 5 or 6 hour day I'll be spending working on the book itself with CreateSpace.com. What a site! Hopefully I'll be able to sell my work through Amazon and people can either download it or order a copy - either way, I'll be making money in some way.

Then, just for the fun of it, I'll go and do that all over again... yay! Yeah, nobody ever got anywhere for nothing.

Otherwise, I'm still reading a couple of books. There's 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams and 'The Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens. Woah! What a great choice of works, right? But the latter one was something I've heard people talking about lately and just wanted to know what the hubbub was about with it; so I dug it out of my classics section and began reading it. I'll let you know what I really think of it in a few weeks. Well, now you know what I've been up to lately. What have you gotten your nose into? Until my next post, happy reading!