Thursday, January 29, 2015

The World Loses Colleen McCullough

I am saddened to report that Colleen McCullough has passed away just last night in the hospital on Norfolk Island.  

Colleen was a very well-educated woman who worked as a neuro-scientist in the Royal North Shore Hospital and then worked as in a researching role at Yale Medical School for a decade.

It was in the United States she found her passion for writing and wrote her first book, 'Tim', which was soon followed by 'The Thorn Birds'.  Both these books were turned into screenplays.  'The Thorn Birds' was turned in a popular television series, while 'Tim' was turned into a movie in 1979 where Mel Gibson stared in one of his first movie roles.

After 'The Thorn Birds' success, Colleen and her husband moved to Norfolk Island permanently and have lived there since.
While living there, she has produced great books such as 'An Indecent Obsession' and the seven-book historical series 'Master of Rome', which was acclaimed by politician such as Bob Carr, Henry Kissinger and Newt Gingrich.

Colleen published her last works, 'Bittersweet', in 2013.

She has been living with poor health in recent years, losing her sight and suffering from crippling arthritis.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ray Bradbury's House Demolition

I read recently that the famed - and one of my favourite writers of all time - Ray Bradbury's house has been demolished.  It was bought last year for over one million dollars and the person who bought his lovely yellow home had demolished it over the last few days.

I'm astonished that the fan of the writer didn't really care about what happened to the house, he just wanted to change the whole thing.  He said wasn't anything he expected and so went ahead and changed it... not expecting any backlash.

However, the people of the neighbourhood were astonished to find Ray's former home being pulled down was the most dreadful thing to have happened; as the writer lived in the house for over 50 years.

Find the whole article below.

The Rest of Ray Bradbury's Home

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rainy Day Reading

I love reading on a rainy day.  The skies are grey, the gutters fill up with rain water, trickling down to the gardens, storm water drains and underground where it all travels out to streams, rivers and finally out to the sea... 

...but no matter where you are, you can sit and watch it from your cosy little spot while you curl up with a good book - or a movie, whichever is your poison.

For me, it's normally a book.  I love to either read a book or write one.  And it's something else completely different to write a book than to read the completed object.  You see, when you're writing a book, you're continuously watching out for your characters before your reader is - or your First Reader anyway.  Then, your first time writing a chapter, you throw out all the rules and it's a matter of making sure everything sounds great, looks like fun and the story is 'vomited' onto the page as fast as possible - then, once you've done that, you save it, leave it alone for a few days and come back to it.  It's then you look at what you've written and wonder what the hell you were thinking!  

Or better still, say quietly: 'This isn't bad shit.'

But in all honesty, it's the first thing you're muttering to yourself.

I do enjoy writing a book more than writing a book though.  I think it's the mechanics of it that I enjoy as it's just wonderful to get into it all, instead of reading a book, knowing there may be a part of it that will piss you off grammatically.

And believe me there are such books.

So, on wet old days, which do you love?  Curling up with a book to read?  Or curling up with a book to write and edit?  For me, it's the one to write most of the time.  Other times, I'll jump in and read a book, and have the joy of letting my brain relax just enough to enjoy a book, but then, I'll end up proofreading it as well.  Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Which Ones Have You Read?

Occasionally, a list of books come out which makes you think about how many books you really have gotten in and read... and you wonder why you haven't read the ones mentioned on this list or another.

Now, I'm wondering why I haven't read these ones, seeing I have good number of them in my bookcases.

100 Books Everyone Should Read In Their Lifetime

So, the question is posed... how many have you read, and how many have you got in your possession and have yet to read?  Until my next post, happy reading.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Death by Didgeridoo' by Barbara Venkataramann

Spike from 'The Screaming Zombies' is dead.  He was found in the studio of his music store of the same name by one of his students, Adam, who is being charged for his murder.

But are the police right in doing this?  

Jamie Quinn - a lawyer, and Adam's cousin - thinks they're wrong.  The main reason is that Adam couldn't possibly have done it.  Just because he was at the scene of the crime saying he was wrong and he had done it, didn't necessarily mean it was the murder he was talking about. 

Jamie's cousin is Autistic and he's a talented musician who loved Spike; they were the best of friends and Jamie knew this.  She just has to prove this the police before it went to court.

So, she hires a private detective:  Duke Broussard.  And just as his name sounds, he's from The South.  He's a charmingly sweet, womanising kinda man, but he also knows how to get the right kind of information about Spike and the rest of the band he played with - even if none of them got along offstage, and Spike himself wasn't very well-like by anyone around him.

Duke digs up a lot of things about Spike that could get him harmed or killed by just about anyone in the band - along with their spouses - but he is confident that Adam is the least of their worries, and he can prove that too; but can they find the murderer in time and catch them before this whole thing goes to court and Jamie's cousin is charged for a crime he didn't commit?

This is the first of the series of books written by Barbara Venkataramann.  Even though it's a good, old love-triangle murder, with all the usual twists and turns, those twists and turns weren't in the places I expected them to be; and this is a good thing.

I also didn't know something about America:  there are two Hollywood's.  There's the one we all know well on the west coast in L.A.  And there's one in Miami, just north of Miami Beach where Hollywood has built an entire suburb to the movie industry so movies can be made on the east coast as well!  This is something I had to Google; it totally threw me a total curve ball in the first three chapters... otherwise, after I knew this, it was fine.  I jumped straight in and listened to the rest of the book!  I'd love to read more books along this line.  

However, the characters do need more fleshing out.  I'd love to know more about their backgrounds, their lives, what they look like more, what their houses look like and family histories better.  But this, I trust, will be filled out more as the series goes on.  Well worth a read or a listen to on audio-book through Audible.  Until my next post, happy reading!

To Plan Or Not To Plan - That Is The Question...

Being a writer, I've tried to make my books and stories as good as they're ever going to get - before I hand them to another set of eyes (or two) and get somebody else's opinions and ideas of what I can do to improve - or remove - to make my work better.

However, have you ever wondered if a writer plans their work?  Can you see it in their books if they plan it or does it look and feel as effortless as a bird flying, a fish swimming?  Sometimes, I can see where a writer plans a book; and it kind of wrecks it for me... as I can see where the changes and moves are going to be in the writing.  However, when I come across a writer who doesn't plan, it's fun and I don't have expect anything from them.  It's enjoyable to jump in and just read their material and be surprised in the most unexpected ways, at the most unusual times with the most interestingly wonderful ways.

I don't plan my work.  What I do is that I get an idea for something.  This could take me weeks to get my head around from the moment I get the idea to actually sitting down and writing it.  My characters start out as ordinary, everyday looking and working people... they are just like your next door neighbours.  They've been selected already, have lives, likes, loves, hates, flaws and are all different from each other in all kinds ways.  Some of them like each other, some of them hate each other, but I gather them together in the one spot, tell them the plot, throw them into a situation and then close the door to their reality on them and watch them from a distance.  They normally turn on me first... telling me I'm nuts.  I tell them to show me how they're going to get out of their first situation - then I wait. 

They don't have a choice.  They are being told what to do and that there is a way out (I know the way out, but I'm not telling them the easy way) and usually, I find that one of them knows the easy way and the others let him go to find the easy way out and he/she gets killed/kidnapped/disappears/gets out... while the others are stuck there still on the starting blocks trying to figure a way out.  
As they go through their own trials and tribulations, I get into their heads, work on their problems and they learn a few lessons on what it's like to be who they are in my story.  And they come out the other side of this whole thing with new skills, new ideas and new feelings about each other and themselves.  They all learn new things about how to be around the place I had created too.

That's me not planning my stories.

I have tried planning my books and it all falls apart within about 3 pages.  

So, what do you do as a writer - if you do write? - and how does it affect your overall work?  I love to not plan as it keeps my writing fresh, and helps my characters grow naturally into who they are.  Well, until my next post, keep reading & writing!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

For The Writers of the World

Now, I know some of you guys'n'gals are writers and have been lurking around here reading my posts happily.  

Hey, I don't mind that... I do that too.  Yep, it's a guilty pleasure to just hang out on somebody's blog, read their posts and not say anything in the comments.  

So, I thought to jump online this arvo and do some hunting around for some hardcore writers blogs.  And you wouldn't believe it!  I found a list of The 100 Best Writer's Blogs & Websites for everyone to have a look at, bookmark some, or better still, subscribe to if you'd like.


Happy Reading!

Children's Books From Yesterday to Today.

We all have a collection of children's books - each of us - and some are our favourites, some aren't.  But we keep them anyway as not all of them are still in print.  I have all my Children's Books and love them even now as they are real classics - even my 'Debbie' books where they're so gorgeously illustrated in a dreamlike manner and the author based them on his daughter of the same name.

However, I have found a link to a site of 50 Classic Children's Picture Books.  I've read 11 of them, and own around the same number of them... very cool!

How many of them do you remember reading?  

And How many do you still own?

Until my next post, happy reading.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Flash Fiction Fridays For Terrible Minds

Now, for all of you who know, I love to write as well as read and collect books.  So, this makes for an interesting way of talking about books, and being interested in publishing too.

So, if you've got more than on blog on the go - like I do - you can start this year with a good challenge and take up writing Flash Fictions.  Chuck Wendig is a Canadian writer who has 'Terrible Minds' as a blog and he challenges his followers each Friday to a prompt to write a story consisting of pretty much anything from Fantasy, Romance, Adventure, Off-Planet workings to Steampunk and average everyday stuff with a twist... but it must be within a certain word limit.  

Most times he gives us 1,000 words and gets us to link it back to his blog so we can all dip in and read each other's works.  I love to do this as it gets me in touch with other writers and I've made some pretty good friends from across the miles through his blog.  And the best thing about this is that you can put up just about any kind of story and you probably won't shock anyone - well, you might, but you won't know until you have a go.

I have shocked a few people, but it's been fun letting my imagination go wild.

I'm on my 3rd year of writing through the 'Terrible Minds' blog and I love it.  I'm actually going to work on getting my stories edited and published so people can download them as an e-book or buy them as real books to own in a series.  I'll keep them on the blog, but it'll be better to have them as proper books.

So, if you go onto the sidebar, you'll find a link to his site - which I put there last year - and before you know it, you'll be enjoying the prompts he comes up with.  And today, he put up the first one for 2015... so why don't you guys give it a go?  You never know what you might come up with.  Besides, you have a week to get your story together, put it up onto your own blog and link it back to his blog... and it's all for fun and to improve our writing skills.  Until my next post, happy reading!

And... happy writing too!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Reads For This Year

I've totally enjoyed reading over the Christmas Holidays, and at the Brunswick Markets just last weekend, I scored a couple of lovely books to add to my collection... yes, the growing collection I really should be reading more of.

First off, I found 'The Portable Dorothy Parker' with an introduction by Brendan Gill.  This book has a collection of her stories and poetry, very much a book to have of her works in one.  I haven't read her work before, but do look forward to reading this one.  Then, I scored 'Iggy Pop: Open Up And Bleed' by Paul Trynka.  I haven't heard much of his music, but do know he's an amazing musician; so thus, I must know more about him.  I also found a book on how to grow Bromiliads and that's all it's about; so I bought that too.  

So, what have you bought recently you're hoping to get your nose into the pages of this year?  I have a large range of books to read this year - nothing to promise myself, you know what I'm like, if I promise myself a pile, I'll never read it.  Anyway, until my next post, happy reading.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Back Home, But No Computer

Hey there, readers and lovers of books, I'm back home and safely in the place I enjoy to read, collect my books and love to watch my dvds of 'Supernatural'... however, I'm not currently on my own computer.

My computer has been in the hands of my next door neighbour who I asked to look it over and it turned into a mammoth task of trying to figure out why it won't start up again - once he told me that I was hacked! So, this post is being written on their computer while they're out and about as they offered up their internet while my computer is dismembered in my home... hmmm, sounds kinda sad to hear about that; and looks it too.

Well, I had a safe drive back up the coast in my little green car.  I do miss Brunswick Heads very much, but I got so much reading done there!  As you can see from the posts I've written, I've read all the books I had planned to - and have yet to write a review on my last audio book from the last day or so of my holidays.  But worry not, it will be written over the next day or so.

So, what did you get to read over the holidays and NYE period?  Me?  Well, it was raining at the coast for a good lot of the time, so reading was called for.  And when it wasn't raining, it was boiling hot and sticky, and too boiling to go outside.  So, I was stuck inside reading.  Not bad if you ask me.  So, do tell us all, what did you read, what did you buy?  What bookstores did you discover?  Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Art Journal of Frida Kahlo by Frida Kahlo

At Christmas-time, I always get myself a nice little present or two to spoil myself.  And this year, I bought off Amazon this very book.  Okay, it's a given that it's not the original, and it's a copy (I haven't got anywhere enough money for that kind of book).  But it's a great book nonetheless.

When I opened it, I found I had received a brand new copy of this book, when I asked for a used copy.  


Those wonderful people at Amazon had wrapped it, as I asked so I couldn't cheat and open it up before I was supposed to.

Then, when I did get in and start reading it down here at Brunswick Heads, I found the book broken up into sections.  There was a rather large introduction about Frida and her life... which I skipped over, as these parts are best read last for me.  There was an essay about the journal, and Frida Kahlo, which I skipped over as it mentioned parts in the journal that were interesting only to those who have read it. Then, there was diary itself (so colourful and filled with emotions!).  And then, there the translation into English.  Now, I put a bookmark into this part and started reading, and finding the pages back in the Spanish section so I could see the full-coloured prints of what was being described to me in the translation.

I'm only halfway through it, and it's the most wonderful book!  I can't wait to read the essay... it ought to be wonderful.  Well worth the wait.  Until my next post, happy reading!