Saturday, February 24, 2018

Decluttering

I'm in decluttering mode - and it's great!

A good part of the townhouse has been decluttered - from the kitchen to the art area and the bedroom and bathroom - but I've left the home office until last because, well, it's normally the hardest one to do.

And in all honesty it really is.

I do find it difficult to get my head around my books and other crap in my home office, mainly because the computer is also here. 

But in the last few weeks, I've done the greatest thing: I've bought two 5kg bags and posted them off to two people across Australia, after advertising on Bookcrossing.com. Any books which were sitting on the floor and unread by me ended up in those bags and were off in the post!

And you know something? 

I felt so much better getting rid of them! 

I've got so much more space now and I don't feel as though my floor is cluttered up with all those books sitting there staring at me and tripping me up. 

At the end of the year, I'll be doing it again - but then, it depends where I'll be living by that time. I might not be where I am right now... so I may have more shelf space and have the others off the floor by that time...

...you never know!

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

School Reading Lists

I've just found out that some schools in the USA have decided to pull 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by Harper Lee from their set reading list.

This is a disgrace.

Okay, when I tried to read it in high school, I found it wasn't the type of book I wanted to get into - but that's me; as a student. However, the rest of the class were right into it! And when they found out I didn't like it, I was booed and hissed at by them. The teacher had to calm them down and ask me why. I said that I couldn't get past the part where house burned down and Boo had put a blanket around the kids while they watched the flames; and yet they didn't know it was him. I thought that part was really touching, and lovely. After that part, I found the author lost me completely... so I put the book down. 

I also found it incredibly racist and the language was really loose. 

If you consider the other authors I was reading, you'd understand why. At the same time as reading 'To Kill A Mockingbird' I had become a big reader of Stephen King; who is such a tight writer, I found it amazingly difficult to read anything else with looser writing or prose. 

Despite how racist this book is, I don't think it should be taken from the reading lists of the USA, simply because it's written about a time in its history that has and did exist. 
People of colour were judged before they were spoken to. Towns were segregated. A lot of places did not serve African American people - and they were not called by that name either. They were ordered to sit at the back of buses and were not allowed into universities and had to have their own schools as well. This included being excluded from voting for the longest time as well as being slaves to the richer white people.
So, why is it that 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is being excluded from the reading lists of the US schools? It's because it's got offensive language in its pages. 

I've got something to say about this. When those children get out into the world, after being sheltered and protected by the education system and their parents for so long, and they head off to college/university, they will find out in the most difficult way that the world is not kind. The real world is filled with sadness, hatred, racism and bullying of all kinds.

And if we don't teach our children from a young age about all of this through the books written in the 1940's onwards by the brilliant writers of those times, how in the hell are they going to learn about it? Most certainly not from their helicopter parents who aren't going to teach them anything. 

Let your children read the books they're not permitted to read in schools today, people, otherwise your children will grow up not knowing anything useful about the world around them, except SnapChat, Facebook and YouTube.

Until my next post, happy reading ... anything your children want.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Anti-Libraries

I've learned a new word!

Yes... this isn't a bad thing - anti-libraries - it's something that turns out to be quite handy to have more books than you can possibly read in your lifetime.

You see, I have more books than I could possibly read in my lifetime; but I don't worry about reading the, because I find comfort in them. I miss seeing them when I go on holidays and enjoy being around them when I return.

It's not a matter whether I read them or not.

It's a matter of having them around me.

I came across this article on My Reading List on Facebook (yes, I've designed a FB group named after this blog to pull in more readership... didn't work out the way I planned, but anyway, that's not the point of this post), that James Mapes put up and I loved it. 

What a great way to keep us all from wondering if we're keeping too many books in our homes... the answer is no, we're not. It's always nice to be able to walk into our home offices, living rooms or spare bedrooms and peruse the shelves and find at great title to read on any old day or late at night just when it's raining outside or we're snowed in or it's too hot to go out... or when the library is shut. This is why I have a library of my very own filled with every book I'd ever want to read - my own anti-library - just in case I feel like reading an autobiography, or a thriller, or a sweet little romance, a YA, a Paranormal Romance or Time Travelling book filled with short stories... and isn't that the point of having a home library? Until my next post, Happy reading!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Chapter By Chapter

I'm finding it difficult to get myself into books lately, so I'm reading a book one chapter at a time - two if I'm feeling up to it - and finding it's a lot easier to get through it.

Right now, I'm reading 'The Shining' by Stephen King, and am up to chapter 15 'Danny' where the little boy starts saying 'redrum' and seeing weird things. Yep, I had the 'creepy moments' a few pages into that chapter and didn't want to close the book - but I was very tired and went straight to sleep. Tonight, I'll read another chapter and get further along into the book. 

It's so much easier doing it this way.

Otherwise, I've been sending books away to fellow Bookcrossers across Australia in 5kg bags. Just this week, I posted off about 10 books to the Northern Territory and next pay I'll be posting off another 5kg bag to Victoria to another Bookcrosser there - another 10 books or so will be going there. 

Later in the year, I'll see what I can do with my books and probably send off another bag - probably a 3kg bag - to another lucky Bookcrosser once I offer up another bag of mixed books. 

Well, I'm still editing and reading my last book of 'The Next Door Neighbour' - does that sound like a good title for my NaNoWriMo book? Better than 'My Neighbour is God' (a little religious and gives away the mystery too soon). Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Haven't Been Reading

But I have been writing.

And that's a good thing. I've been writing Flash Fictions over Christmas - about Christmas - and have been working on my NaNoWriMo book from last year - and it's looking good too!

Okay, there's a few inconsistencies but I can work through them; as any good writer will tell you, we can make anything work.

I've been slogging through 'The Shining' but with this horrible heatwave, my focus just isn't on it just now. It's just not working for me... and so I'm trying to sleep more and ignore the heat.

I know that sounds terrible; but the book is next to my bed as are my reading glasses! They are right where I'd grab them when I can't sleep, but I've found myself reading the same page three times before I realise I'm not getting anywhere in the book.

So, I'm not reading - and haven't been - since this heatwave started just around Christmas, and I'm looking very forward to the time I can and will read more soon. But writing and editing my NaNoWriMo is something at least; especially seeing I'm in an air-conditioned room while I'm doing it. 

Well, that's all from me for now... how's your reading world - and writing world - going, especially after the crazy season of Christmas and New Years Eve? Mine's pretty quiet... the car's power steering died, and my little green car's at the mechanics. While she's there, I'm driving Mum's 'Green Beastie' Pajero... and it's a hell of a 4X4. Keep forgetting how much power it has. Otherwise, at least it's getting me places. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Well, it's the first day of the new year and I'm excited!

I've been writing in the last month or so of 2017; and editing a book as well. I've also been trying to get my Mum to read 'The Tour Guide' which is a book I wrote in 2016 for NaNoWriMo - but she's yet to get in and do that. 

Might get it off her and have somebody else read it for me. I'd like to get in and do something with it.

But I've been reading lately... well, okay, in the last half of 2017, I got in and read a bit - around 6 books in 4 months; which isn't bad really. But, I really should read more this year. 
And I'm going to start with 'The Shining' by Stephen King. I started that over Christmas; and will finish it over the next month or so, as I'll plug through around 10 - 15 pages in each sitting. 

I will get through this book - then start reading 'Doctor Sleep'; the second book to it.

And then, I'll see what I can do about the Mt TBR by the door of my office; see if I can make it reduce by a little if I can. 

I have read a little bit of poetry by Robert Browning lately - through a book I bought myself for Christmas; and found I love his words. They are just so wonderfully written - as though he's writing down every thought... even if they're a bit muddled.

Otherwise, this year will be a year where I will finish books, instead of starting books and then not finishing them. 

What are you hopes to do this year in the reading stakes? Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shameless Promotion!

I've been reading a lot and writing a lot too.

And for somebody like me, that's a good thing! But right now, I'm writing a Flash Fiction Christmas Series... yep, it's a good fun one which I thought I'd go all Charles Dickens on.

Now, if you remember, way back in the day, Charles Dickens wrote a set of stories which he made into a series of short stories/books and people gobbled them up!
I'm doing something very similar with my flash fiction blog where I'm writing 300 - 500 words per story section and posting it; leaving you - my reader - hanging until the next day.

The story is called 'Saving Christmas' - and so far, I'm up to Part Three with a few more parts to go; how many I'm not quite sure. But it's going to be fun finishing it off!

So, if you're interested in reading it, start with 'Saving Christmas - Part One' and then look for the next parts following it... which I have put labels on for the sidebar (yep, making it easier to find for you too!). 

Have you tried anything like this before? If so, let us know about it and share a link the comments. Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Been Away On Holidays

Hey everyone!

I'm sorry I couldn't put up a post where I was because the laptop I was using has memory problems; and that means no blogging.

But I arrived home yesterday, did a spot of grocery shopping, chucked on the laundry, soaked the lawn - as it's been so darn dry here in Brisbane - and then unpacked my clothes! 

...and now? Well, I'll let you in on what I've done with my time at Brunswick Heads.

I caught up with my reading. I read over 50 pages of 'The Shining' by Stephen King! Yes, I'm up to part 3 where the Overlook Hotel is closed and Jack Torrence is beginning to fix the roof and everything seems okay.
I also got in and did some editing work on my NaNoWriMo piece. I'm on my first sweep of it and it looks great so far... but it looks like I'll be working on the chapters individually, not the whole pdf; as it just doesn't seem to make sense yet. Oh well... I'll see what happens when I do get it finished.

Then, I went op-shopping for Christmas pressies - as Brunswick Heads is chock-o-block full of op-shops and I found 2 books for my Dad. One is about Doc Hollywood - his memoirs actually; and the other is about a sea captain who was also a writer, artist and an actor! Woah! Talk about talent! But I guess we'll have to wait and see what goes on with that one, right? Well, I don't have any photos of either book as I have already cleaned them and wrapped them up and their under the tree for the day the Big Guy in the red suit shows.

So, there you have it: my 4 days away and I did really well in the reading, writing and op-shopping book-shopping stakes. Well, how are you all doing at this time of the year? Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What Now?

Okay, I would have written this post last week, but my computer monitor snuffed it on me; and I didn't want to be writing this in a public library with three high school students reading the post over my shoulder.

Which they did read my last two post-writings from my other two blogs until a librarian told them to move on and it was rude to read what people were writing on a computer... to which one said, 'Well, why are they writing it here then?' 

So, there I was wanting to write the next post about the NaNoWriMo and what we do now about our 50,000 words and what happens with it all... which is: wait a month.

Yes, we wait a month until around January where we get in and start on the editing and fleshing-out process of the book. This could mean that the book goes from the initial 50,000 words to over 80,000 words... oohh... look at that last number! That's a real book there, dear reader/writer!

I'm looking forward to this part, as I've written so many books and yet they don't really get off the ground as well or easily as they would if they were edited properly. 

Now, with the 'what now' part of the process, I'm hoping to get this book finished by around March or so. 

So, yes, this is the fun part of the writing for me... I love to pick apart my work and make it sound better, look better and really make it become a living breathing creature from my imagination.

Okay, I've spooked you enough. Now, it's close to Christmas, I'm going to be busy during these holidays too... so I'm hoping to get in and do some reading of any books around the house, and declutter my home office too. So, do tell us what you're all going to get up to this holiday, now you know what I'm going to get into. Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Am A Winner! 50,000 Blasted!

Late yesterday afternoon, I blasted through my last 5,000 words for NaNoWriMo!

I received my certificate and online party from the guys overseas! It felt great to finish the first draft of my book!

Yes... my first draft.

During this month, I've not only finished the draft, I've also put up a cover picture and changed the title - twice!

So, how have you been doing with your NaNoWriMo?

Have you begun seeing the finish line on the horizon? If not, don't worry, you'll get there next year; or over the next few months. 

For this challenge, there are no failures, just people who love to write books - and isn't that the main thing here: too keep us writers on the ball and writing our fingers off?

It sure is! 

After my 3rd attempt at this challenge, I finally go to the 50,00 words with just 2 days to spare. Now... please do let us all know how you went on yours. Until my next post, happy reading and writing! 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

300 Words From 40,000 Word Mark!

I'm so proud of myself!

After today, I'm only 10,000 words from my target of 50,000 words - then? Then, it'll be a few months of me fleshing out the book and making it really read like I want it to.

So.... how's your book going?

All good?

All bad?

All in-between?

Or... have you given up?

Now, if you've found it's fallen flat, don't worry, look a few posts down and you'll read again that I only got to 19,000 words or so on my first attempt on this write-a-novel-in-a-month thing... and I'm sure it took even the most ardent writer of this great challenge a few attempts to get in and write the 50,000 words in a month - and then to get the word count over 80,000 words (which is a good-sized novel) by March the following year.

Don't be discouraged by not making it through or feeling as though you're ploughing through waist-high mud. We all feel like that sometimes... if you didn't make it this year - there's always next year.

For me? This is the first year I've made it to the 50,000 words; and I will do it again next year! Until my next post, happy reading and writing!

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.