Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in review

A lot of things happened during 2009. My crit group just brought out our resolutions for this year and I was surprised to see that I had been reasonably successful with what I'd set out to do in the year... which was finish Haven and get it ready to start submitting to agents.

This year has been very eventful. I started this blog, got myself a Facebook account and finished a novel. Here's a run down of the year:

No of books finished: 1
No of books started: 1 (don't even go there, figured it had a better story in my head)
No of revisions done: Probably 3-4 (I've been a busy bee)
No of books read: Approx. 50
No of books started: 5 (I'm gonna get around to reading them eventually)
Still to read: 5 (that's just the ones I've got, not including ones started)
Fave book of the year: Hunger games
Reading at moment: Uglies

So how has everyone elses year's been? Did you accomplish everything you set out to do this year?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas...

I hope everyone has a very happy Christmas and spend the day relaxing with loved ones...

So, as a relaxing - and time wasting - note, here's a video I found on YouTube (you got to love the random stuff you can find there) from a very talented musician.

Have a Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Official Kissing Day...

Just found out that it's officially kissing day here on the blogosphere. So, what does that mean? Actually I have no idea, but it looks like posting a kissing scene is the thing to do... so, here's a scene from my novel Haven.

He leans into me, pushing me against the hard stone of the nearest building. “You can learn a lot about someone from the way they fight.”

“So, what did you learn about me?” I look away from him.

“Well... you’re driven, hate to lose, conflicted, keeps secrets.” He chuckles. “And, always do the unexpected.”

“All that from the way I get hit?”

“You did get a shot or two in.” He shrugs. He moves his head closer to me until our noses pretty much touch and say, “Like I said, a person’s way of fighting reveals a lot about them.”

I lean in and kiss him, pressing my lips hard against his. I rip my head away and divert my eyes to the ground. I know my face must be lit up like a neon cherry.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it,” I mumble quickly, running the words together.

“I don’t see why.” He returns the kiss, forcing me into the wall.

I snake my arms around his neck, drawing him closer. He smells of cinnamon and rain. My heart races and heat surges through my body. I don’t want this to end.

* * *

I personally find it fun to write kissing scenes, what about everyone else? And, what's your favourite kissing scene?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Xmas Rush...

It's been very busy around here, trying to find presents and preparing for a Christmas where my families going to be separated on Xmas day and most will be working at various parts of the day... trying to figure out what to buy, getting postage that will let presents arrive at their destinations before Christmas day and getting the right food and treats for a very mixed up day is very overwhelming...

And, I'm running out of time with only a week left...

So, how does everyone prepare for Christmas? Does everyone leave things to the last minute? Or is there some other unfortunate soul (like me) who has to work the majority of Xmas day?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Querying is like...

Querying is like trying to find a car space at a full parking lot during Christmas time...

Well, it's sort of the same. You research the agents and see one that's seems to be a perfect fit (like someone's who's about to leave the parking lot) so you send in the query and wait (hoping you will get the parking spot soon)...

I know, it's not a great analogy, but it's helped me learn two things this week:
  1.  Querying involves lots of waiting...
  2. It's a really bad idea to go shopping in the weeks leading up to Christmas... no kidding, I spent fifteen minutes looking for a park (avoiding several near-collisions with people fighting over parking spots), just to leave and move on to the next shopping centre... I wonder if I can avoid shopping until after Christmas.
So, how do you handle querying? Or even handle Christmas shopping?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One thing to learn from Disney...

So, I had a day off and felt in a lazy mood so I went through my DVD collection. I was in an inspirational, family-friendly mood so I ended up with watching a marathon of Disney movies (Princess Diaries, Lizzy Maguire, Aladdin... okay, I admit it, I'm addicted to Disney...) and all these movies seemed to have one morale...

You can do anything if you just try and never give up...

I think that's the way we should always act (even though it's hard when nothing ever seems to go right). In any obstacle in life, especially with writing, there's always a voice that sneaks into the back of the mind asking why you bother trying... but, where can someone get if they never try?

My definition of luck is: 90% Hard Work, 10% Persistence.

Is there ever a time where you felt like giving up? Is there anything that helps motivate you to keep going for one more day?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A slang saying...

Isn't the English language bizarre at times. You can have a word that have multiple meanings or you can have a meaning that can use multiple words to define it. But, when words can change meaning as much as the latest fashion trend changes, who is there to inform everyone when they are now using a taboo word or the way they're using the word is now the total opposite of what they're meaning?

TV's naughtiest new swearword

I came across an interest news article that states a new swearword that seems to be all the rage across the television at the moment. Since when was it even considered a swearword?

How do words become slang? And, who gives the slang a meaning? Could it be that one person says a word (even if it's a totally ridiculous, nonsensical word) and whoever hears it passes it on? A bigger question is, when writing, is word choice is important so that the intended audience will understand what's being said, and also the story won't become outdated with the ever changing meanings of words and sayings?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Establishing Deadlines

I've decided I've been sitting around too much doing absolutely nothing, so I've decided to give myself a deadline of when I'm going to start submitting Haven.

I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. Working to a schedule/deadline is a good way to motivate and get the project finished. I know that this imaginary deadline is really pushing me to get off my butt and actually do something.

Are deadlines a good thing? And, once a deadline is made is it easy to keep them?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Word of Mouth counts...

Recently I've been told of a restaurant that is sort of near where I live. I plan on going just because of the hype I've heard about it. The one who told me said he travels 45minutes just to go there.

This restaurant is just a little Mexican restaurant that's practically situated in the middle of nowhere, and yet they still serve over 200 people a night, and yet they apparently don't advertise.

This is a great example of word of mouth spreading and grabbing more attention. I know restaurant service and writing are two different things (I should know, I do both at the moment), but they desired outcome is the same... offering a service, whether it's food or a good read, and hoping that the customer/reader will want more, and will hopefully tell their friends about it.

How important is word of mouth and other forms of advertising? When you write a story is it easy to grab someone's attention? Probably these days with the internet so readily available that anyone can place their work up and be seen, but what keeps bringing the people back for more? Or, what causes someone to pass on news of the story to their friends?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't Put It Off...

After spending all morning doing some well overdue Spring cleaning, it has got me thinking as to why the hell I didn't do it earlier. I can tell you it would probably have saved me a whole lot of time and hassle if I had done it when it really needed it.

Why do we put things off? Procrastination is another word for finding something better to do - even if you're just wasting time. I was bad for leaving things till the last minute. It was always fun doing the assignment in school at the last minute, and hey, I was a crammer. What is a crammer? It is someone who can study the night before a test and still come away with good marks (not great, which I probably could of got if I would have given myself more time).

Just like school, projects, and even housework, if there's something that needs to be done, it probably deserves more time and concentration than the latest YouTube video (even though they are pretty tempting)... don't live life just saying "one more day won't hurt" because when does that one more day end?

The best way to conquer the evils of "procrastination" is to set a goal. My goal for my current manuscript is that I'm going to have it ready by the end of November, otherwise I'll still be working on it for another 5 years.

Another way would be to cut my access to the internet - but I think that's a tad too drastic, and I can't live without the blogs and forums for too long.

What are some ways to avoid procrastination, especially with an internet full of time-wasting distractions? Or are you the ones who says "I'll do it tomorrow?"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Geeking it Out

I know the weekend isn't here yet, but hey, I work all weekend, so on my days off I decided I needed a little downtime. I think my eyes are going square from staring at the computer screen every second I've got off... At least I'm nearly done with my revisions...

So, I decided I needed a break and went to the video store to get some rentals, and I felt like such a geek... Harry Potter and Star Trek (I hadn't watched any of the previous Star Trek's, so I didn't know what was supposed to be happening). I also picked up Crank 2, so that lowers the Geek level (even though I haven't watched it yet).

So, here's a question. What are some things you do to relax, whether it's after a hard days work or just get away from life for a bit?

Monday, November 16, 2009

An important lesson learned...

I've been going great guns with editing Haven, but when we had a power surge at home I leant a very, very valuable lesson - The importance of backing up files...

I had done over a hundred pages of rewrites (and I did save it like a good little girl) and when the power went off, so did the computer... okay, all I had to do was reset the computer if I saved it, didn't I? It's not as simple as that.

When I went to turn the computer on, it refused to load. I even tried putting it in safety mode just so I could get the novel off the damn machine. But, it refused to load. So after swearing a few times and my brother trying to calm me down before I really put the thing in an early grave, it decided to start - a whole 20 minutes after pressing the power button for the fifth time.

The first thing I did was to email me the file (after checking that it was still operational... it was). I always force myself to save at regular intervals, but after this mornings ordeal, I'm going to have roughly three backups (or wherever I can manage to save it) so I always have a copy of it... the only problem is, and I have done this before, working off an old file and realising after another 100 pages of rewrites.

So, where do people back up their files and how many backups do you have? Or, are some like me and stressout when the only machine with a copy crashes?

But for me, this little ordeal has taught me that backing up files is a good habit to get into.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The big question...

What is the big question? And no, it's not a proposal for marriage. It's a question that comes up all the time when a decision is to be made, I know I've been asking it a lot at the moment.


As soon as anyone reaches a decision about anything that question always lingers in the back of the mind (if you're human anyway). What if you took the job? What if you study nursing instead of music? The questions are endless, and the answers are never definite because no one will ever know what the outcome would have been if another path had been taken.

I have learned to never look back otherwise I'll never get past the "What if" question and wonder if I've made the right choice.

But, taking this question is great when applying it to writing. Just like people in real-life, the "What if" question creates obstacles for the character and brings life to them... well, no two people makes the same choices. They can choose identical paths, but the reason they are there can be very different.

What would the world be like without the "What if" dilemma? Do you think people would have the freedom to choose the right path that suits them?

Interesting question, what would life actually be like if you didn't have to, or couldn't, make choices?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Did It...

What did I do, I hear you ask. I actually got of my butt (I've been really comfortable lately that I didn't want to change anything), got me a synopsis and entered Haven into a contest...

Now comes the waiting...

And, I'd better say a big thanks to my brother who submitted it since I was at work when the contest opened and apparently it closed 90 seconds after opening.

Well, since I've taken this step, I might as well go all the way and actually start submitting it (I hear gasps of shock... I know, I'm shocked as well)... I guess I'm no longer going to be a closet (well, bedroom to be precise) writer anymore.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Eventful Night and Overactive Imagination

Well, I was on my way to work (didn't actually get there though) when I blew a tyre out on the motorway and the nearest place I could pull over was on an little section between the motorway and where people entered it.

You don't know how creative you get until you're stranded somewhere, feeling the car vibrate as cars (on both sides) rocket past at 110+ Km (68miles). Waiting the hour for a tow truck - and that's how long it takes for them to get to an emergency situation - my mind liked to wander, and not to pretty places either...

What if a car didn't see me and hits me at full on speed? What if the tow truck driver was some demented maniac (wouldn't you trust someone who's supposed to help you)? Like I said, not a pretty place I needed to be at the time, but has started to give me ideas for future stories/characters.

Needn't fear, I'm now safe at home (of course I didn't make it to work). After all the string of bad luck, I still managed to get that to turn around. The tow truck driver dropped me off at a petrol station, and after attempting to change the tyre one-handed (hey, I was on the phone with my parents at the time, trying to figure out where my car was hiding the jak) two nice cops pulled up and started to change it for me. So a little scare, a lot of grease (and I mean a lot, for some reason my face was covered in it) and a chance encounter gave me a lot of ideas to write about.

So, here's a question. Are there any situations that at the time seemed like a bad thing, but gave you some kind of inspiration? Do you find story ideas from real life and people you meet?

Finding Inspiration

Finding time to write is one thing, but finding what to write about is another matter entirely. Sometimes when I hit a brick wall and have absolutely no idea where to go next, I look to other sources for inspiration.

Maybe my next spark will come from music (at the moment I've got Evenescence, Nightwish and Disturbed on my playlist to get me in the right mood for my story), or if tunes won't do, I go out to the movies or browse some image galleries (images are great to get some ideas).

So, where do you find inspiration? Is there times where it's impossible to write, what do you do to get in the write mood to continue?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rewriting or Creating?

Well, at the moment I'm off to a tremendously terrible start to Nano, what with work and health issues I haven't really been able to do much. Now I'm caught at a crossroads. Should I continue my Nano path or go back to tweaking my WIP.

There's a reason why I'm contemplating revisiting my other novel. Haven is a completed novel that just needs a little work and has announced a Young Adult contest.

So, my dillema is, when do you choose to work on something old rather than starting a new piece? Is it as simple as flipping a coin to decide what to do? Or, is it more in the mindset you're in when you sit down?

All this decision-making is giving me a headache.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Flying Blind

Is it easier to write from an outline or off the top of your head? Well, for me, I usually have some sort of outline done up, even though I hardly ever stick to the outline. Just having something to help give me some sort of clue as to where the story's going to end up really helps me out.

But, stupid me. When it came to Nano I didn't even have much of an idea on November 1st that I didn't have enough time to create any outline. Now, I haven't a clue where I'm going to go. 2,000 words in and already I'm starting to doubt whether I can create any decent novel. I'm really biting my tongue at the moment because I feel like ditching my efforts for the second time (I can't do that or I'll end up with nothing at the end of the month).

When it comes to serious hit-the-wall writers block, what is the best way to get out of it? And that doesn't include ditching the little bit I've got, because I need something to work from.

After day one...

After getting off to a very, very, very, very, very... okay, one more very... bad start, I've managed to crawl up and get 1,711 words. And, the thing that amazes me the most is I think the story actually makes sense. I know, in-cred-i-ble.

Well, now I thinik I've deserved a good night sleep, mainly so I can get up bright and early in the morning and get a jump on tomorrows word count. The good thing about tomorrow is that I've got the entire day off (well, except for the bit where I promised that I'd do a bit of the house work... I know stupid me).

Yay for the start of Nano, and let's hope tomorrow is just as productive (but less riddled with despair). Well, nighty night out there in blog land, I think I've deserved a good rest after today.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to Turn that Inner Editor Off?

How should I know, I was hoping you could tell me.

The hardest part of NanoWriMo (except for the reaching 50,000 words thing) is tuning out the inner editor. I had written about 500 words before I told myself that was utter garbage and scrapped it.

The only way I can see myself doing well this year is to only care about the story being told, the sentence structure and grammar (and dare I say it, even spelling) can wait until revisions start in December.

Now, after chilling a bit (before I bite the head off my brother) and watching the Covenant for inspiration, I'm going to take a deep breath and try to get at least 1,000 words out before the day's through. Yes, I know I'll be behind, but I'll definitely be able to catch up tomorrow (I hope).

And let it begin...

Oh crap, it's now November 1st and I still don't have much of an idea where to go, I'm hoping that a lightning bolt will strike me at work and I'll be able to jump into it straight after.

I know I really should have been plotting and planning yesterday, but I didn't. I attended the Nano Kick off party for Brisbane (Australia) - yeah, that was fun, but didn't do much for giving me inspiration. Then, I went to Movie World's Halloween party, and after pushing through wall to wall crowds with limited visibility due to an overuse of the smoke machine I have bubkiss... I was really hoping that some of the mazes they had set up would spark an idea, but the closest thing I got was inserting evil clowns into the story, which my brother thought was a horrendous idea...

P.s. I must not scare easy because with all the screams pouring out of the mazes I expected to find something at least a little bit frightening (not that evil clowns aren't frightening when they're jumping around corners to scare you. Let's face it, clowns are just scary).

Now, I so hope I can come up with an idea so I have at least one word written before the day's out.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Snowflake Method, Step 2

After you have created a single sentence to describe the novel you intend of writing the next step is to expand that story to a full paragraph. This time describing the:
  • Story setup
  • Major disasters
  • Ending of the Novel
For mine, step one (since I have changed my story since I posted the last time, so here's the new one)

A girl tries to live a normal life, which is really hard when her mother's a witch who's also an assassin.

Step 2:

All she wants is to be normal, but how is that possible when she's the daughter of an assassin isn't easy, especially when her mother's not a regular assassin. Her mother is a witch specialising in "difficult" slayings, and now she wants her daughter to follow in the family business. Only trouble is, Ash has no powers, or so everyone thinks. When her mother is hired to do a hit on a teenage boy, Ash is told that she has to get close to him. When something goes wrong and Ash is injured she finds out how much magic she really has, and she has to make the choice of going into the family business or being one of the hunted.

Wow, I think there's more of my story there than I thought I had created, maybe I'll actually have a chance at completing NanoWriMo come Sunday. Here's hoping.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm doomed...

two days away from Nano and I've chosen to dump the fragment of an idea that was floating around in my head and go with another story idea (once again nothing but a minute fragment and character who's already trying to run things)... I hope this isn't any indication as to how November is going to go...

Oh well, an idea is still better than nothing, right?

Give them what they want... But, what's that?

I've just started a new job at a small restaurant and I'm astonished that the people I work with can get a person's order as soon as they step through the door. It just shows that some peoples tastes never change, but is it the same with readers? There are so many novels out there of varying genres that it makes you think if there's a perfect reader for every novel written (and that doesn't include the writer).

When creating a story who are you really writing it for? You? Your mother? The little old lady that lives at the end of the street who always smells of cats? It's easy enough to write something that the writer's passionate about, but will the reader feel the same way? After all, with the hope of getting that story into publication, isn't the real person you're writing the story for going to be the reader?

But how do you know what the reader wants? Take a trip to the book store, see what people are reading (not just the type of story... cough, vampire, cough), what characters draw people in? Does the reader like intricate plots that keeps them guessing from beginning to end?

It's not that easy to identify what people want, especially in the terms of novels. There's only one way to know what readers want, and that's to become a reader yourself. If you know what you like or don't like and see how published writer's put things, then chances are that you've already discovered what they want.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creating the Story... First step

Well, still with nothing but a fragment of an idea and NanoWriMo starting in less than a week makes me think about how to develop this idea.

There is a good method to developing a story, it is the Snowflake Method, which takes a look at ten steps of story development. To create an indepth and interesting story takes time, especially when I've got a mind that is always thinking and changing ideas that I'm developing.

What is the first step? Step one is to: write a one-sentence summary of the story. Don't worry about character names or descriptions as Randy Ingermanson suggests that the shorter and more succinct sententences work the best.

Well, what is a one-sentence summary of the story I'm planning to do?

A girl discovers she's half-demon and has to protect herself from the hunters.

I know, not much at the moment. Like I said, it was a fragment of an idea which I'm hoping to develop before the start of November. Hey, I've still got four days... that's three more than I need, isn't it?

Monday, October 26, 2009

A week to go, what to write?

NanoWriMo is drawing closer and I have a little problem... I have absolutely no idea what to write. I've got a tidbit of an idea and a character that's nagging to be set free, but that really doesn't form a novel.

Where do ideas come from? At the moment that is a big question. I'd better get to work thinking about this next big masterpiece before all I'm left with in November is "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Breaking Stereotypes

What makes a character interesting? While I was out yesterday I ran into a scene where someone skateboarded in front of my car (luckily I was already stopped at the lights). What made this person interesting? It had nothing to do with the skateboard, or the fact that he passed by my car, what made him unique was the fact he was in his early 50s.

Interesting characters are unpredictable, relateable... human. Just like the elderly skater, you can't really predict what someone will do or how they will behave. Sometimes they just jump out at you.

If a character doesn't have its own unique quality, they will lose focus and become uninteresting. Unoriginal characters tend to be little more than placeholders in a story. You can still move them, but there's no real depth. Just like in real life, sometimes you just need to let the character choose where to go and make their own mistakes.

Creating characters they don't follow the norm (aren't stereotypes) can be as simple as observing the world around you, looking at each quirk and trait that people will help to create some interesting characters (or just crazy if the person you observe is just plain loopy).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Where has the time gone this year? It's on the final countdown till the end of October and I still have no idea what I'm going to write about for NanoWriMo, well, except for a rough outline and a very determined character that wants to get out.

What is NanoWriMo? It is a worldwide phenomenon where people (writers and non-writers alike) take up the challenge to write a novel (well, at least 50K worth of words) in the month of November. This site has a better description than I could ever use: What is NanoWriMo

Why would someone want to do something so stupid? It could be to see what happens when a person is fixed on too much caffeine with little sleep. Or, it could be that person doesn't have much of a social life. I can probably count myself in both of those reasons, but the real reason is the challenge and accomplishment. This whole deal forces encourages me to get off my arse and actually complete something, and besides, I'm pretty sure lack of sleep and caffeine overdoses contribute to even more interesting story lines.

Now I just have to plot out whatever it is I'm going to write, or I could just wing it... how hard can it be to write a coherent story in a month without having any clue as to where I should begin?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Character quirks, or a quirky character

Tonight I was informed of a little habit I have when it comes to addressing people, for some reason (and I didn't know I was doing this) I always address people in the third person.

Who'd have thought, little old me actually has a trait that some can find annoying while others call it psychotic, but this is just being human.

How does one place such little quirks ("traits") into a characters behaviour in a novel without making that character appear overly quirky? What is it about some characters that you absolutely love? They all have these little traits, habits, quirks... psychotic tendencies... that the reader can identify with and grow to love.

So, me with my third person address, is something you just have to love... as long as I don't start addressing myself in the third person.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Finding the time to write

Sometime it's an impossible task to actually find any time to write. A suggestion for writing is to write every day, but how the hell can someone who has a full-time job (and yes writers still have to work) possibly do that?

One suggestion is to find a time of day that you can be alone. For me, this is either before or after my shifts (mostly when the house is asleep and I won't have people pestering me to do some "actual" work).

Take some time out of life, even if it's only half an hour to write something, anything. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, or even make sense.

Now, I just have to listen to my own advise because I've been a bit lazy and now I spend most of my time reading blogs (and believe it or not, I hadn't even read any before October, now I'm addicted... sort of like reality television) instead of doing something constructive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What is Haven?

There are a lot of things Scar doesn't believe in - magic, monsters, a passing grade in history. That all changes the night of her fifteenth birthday (well, except the passing history thing) when she finds out her whole like has been a lie. She is dragged into a world of darkness - a world where the creatures of the night are real. Told she isn't human, she is forced to attend a school designed for vampires, witches and werewolves.

Now she's learning brand new things. Breaking a witch's Frisbee can really piss them off, challenging a werewolf to a foot race is a bad idea - if you want to live, vampires can hold serious grudges and throw mean left hooks, and the hardest secrets to keep are often the most crucial.

But she has a secret. She is a Dhampir, part-human, part-other, masquerading as a vampire.

When Scar starts seeing visions of attacks, the students begin to disappear. After a video surfaces of her at one of the crime scenes, making her the prime suspect, her very survival might be at stake. Now she must race to prove her innocence before her true nature is exposed.

The only problem is, she's not entirely sure she's innocent.

HAVEN is a complete 75,000 word young adult urban fantasy novel and is FIGHT CLUB meets HARRY POTTER with vampires. It will appeal to fans of BUFFY and SUPERNATURAL.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's gotta be a first

The first blog post is like the first sentence of a novel. It's got to be good enough to hook the reader to keep them coming back for more. The same silly questions lingers in the mind as one ponders over the perfect beginning. Will it be good enough? Will people want to read it? Will I be talking to myself (like I probably am at the moment)? Nothing seems to be right.

Well, who am I? I'm a 27 year old writer of Young Adult urban fantasy and horror from Australia. I decided to (finally) start a blog to chronicle the long and determined path to publication.
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