Monday 28 February 2011

Tears On Holly's Floppy Ears

As many of you know, I had my 30th Birthday on Saturday. My parents have just left the building this morning and I'm feeling, well ... kinda lost. My Sig.Oth, had a gig last night, so he's still asleep. He got home at 5a.m. So it's just me and Holly, in a cold quiet house, listening to the rollin' of the washing machine while I tap away on my keyboard and feel a little empty.

I had a wonderful week last week, though. I thought I would be relieved to have the house quiet again, but I actually feel strangely sad and hollow. Shed a few tears on Holly's floppy ears when my parents walked out the door. I guess I should be used to it by now. All the years of goodbyes I've experienced shifting back and forth from Australia to Greece. But now that I've been settled in one place for the longest period of time ever (nine years), I've become quite rusty at it - the saying goodbye.

Anyhow. Thank you to all my friends who shared Saturday with me. I had a really nice night! Now just gimme me a moment to compose myself (sob sob), and then I'll get straight back into my (ugh) routine.

If you'd like to see a few shots from Saturday, click this link :o)

PS: PJ HARVEY, Let England Shake. Such a GREAT album!

PS: I just realised I was supposed to be participating in a blogfest today. Sorry guys! I forgot!!!

Monday 21 February 2011

The rockstars are visiting me this week!

The rockstars are visiting this week (my parents) ;-), so I'm not going to be online much. I'll do my best. I might post, and I might not. I might visit you and I might not. It all depends on whether they're in the mood to gallivant around town or veg out on the couch watching my collection of American TV series'.

Also, this Saturday is my 30th birthday. Sig.Oth. and I have organised a pretty decent-sized dinner of about fifteen friends at THIS RESTAURANT. I'm nervous. I don't want them all to sing happy birthday to me in public and make me go red in the face. I used to love being the center of attention. Now the thought makes me want to pee.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some shots of the rockstars ...

PS: If you wanna see pics of them, when they were actually rockstars click HERE FOR MY MOTHER and HERE FOR MY FATHER.

Speaking of rockstars, many of you have told me that I don't talk much about my significant other. Well, my Sig.Oth. is the guy who brings the rocks to town. You can check out his website HERE. Most of it is in Greek, but the About Us is in English and so is the Event History. And the Google Translate doesn't do a bad job, either, surprisingly!

Have a good week everyone. I might see ya, I might not! Mwah!

Thursday 17 February 2011

Do not. Underestimate. The Power. Of. Short sentences.

Have you ever read a book with a lot of short sentences in a row to create effect? If so, how did it make you feel? Stressed? Anxious? Have you ever thought about how writing 'style' can create emotion as well as word choice?

I'm going to give you a little example. Now tell me, which one makes you feel more stressed:

The kettle boils and I pour coffee in my mug. As I wipe sleep from my eye, I lose balance. Hm … bit dizzy. This is weird. Gotta get that work done. My vision goes a little hazy as I pour milk in my coffee. Oh … hot flush? My fingers tingle and I shake my hand to get the feeling back. Cut-off circulation? It doesn't dissipate, and I drop my spoon in my mug. Clang! It splashes everywhere, including on my robe. I wipe it off with my sleeve.

Kettle boils. Coffee in mug. Wipe sleep from eye. Lose balance. Hm … bit dizzy. Weird. Pour milk in coffee. Gotta get that work done. Vision a little hazy. Oh … hot flush? Fingers tingly. Shake hand. Cut-off circulation? Doesn’t dissipate. Drop spoon in mug. Clang! Wipe splash off belly with sleeve of robe.

Number two is better, huh? Gives you that sense of urgency/breathlessness?

Have you ever tried this in your writing?
Have you ever tried any other style techniques to create a particular feeling? What were they?

Have a great weekend everyone! And welcome to all my new followers from yesterday's blogfest! Wow!

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Bernard Pivot Blogfest: Let's get to know each other.

And today we have Nicole Ducleroir's Bernard Pivot Blogfest. Please be sure to check out the other participants. All we have to do is answer the following questions about ourselves. I've never heard of this questionnaire, but it's supposed to reveal a lot about our personalities. So here we go:

1.What is your favorite word?

I don't have one, but I tend to take a liking to different words every week, like um ... coffee, ice cream, lemon meringue pie ... um ... oh, sorry, what did you say? I'm not supposed to be talking about what I like to eat? Whoops ... but they're still words, aren't they?

2.What is your least favorite word?

rules (who needs 'em?)

3.What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Um ... being turned on creatively, spiritually and emotionally? No, seriously now, writing, music, writing, reading, writing, music, reading, um ... sex? What is that again?

4.What turns you off?

My off button. It's located ... um ... somewhere. Let me know when you find it.

5.What is your favorite curse word?

Really? My favourite curse word is a bit offensive. Can I whisper it? (cunt) (I like it because it's still considered taboo - isn't it? And it sounds so much stronger than any of the others, and if you really want to offend someone, 'fuck you' just doesn't work any more. But if you say, 'fuck you cunt', well, that's kinda crossing the line - the waist line to be exact ;o) Oh yeah, and its Greek equivalent: Mounotricha (literally translated: a cunt hair) PS: please don't judge me. I'm just answering a question! *flutters eyelids*

6.What sound or noise do you love?


7.What sound or noise do you hate?

Garbage trucks at 5 a.m!

8.What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Ok, well, I guess I'd like to be either a zoologist or an archaeologist. I actually studied archaeology before I got into English. I bet you didn't know that about me, huh?

9.What profession would you not like to do?

Garbage collector. I just couldn't bear to wake up all those poor writers who stayed up half the night trying to finish their novels.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

God: Don't worry, you're not going to be shoved into an alternate universe, or another body, to be given another chance to rectify all the mistakes you made. You're really dead, and it's really over, so relax, pick a cloud, and go to sleep.

Me: Really? Awesome. Oh ... wait ... does that mean, the man of my dreams, who I was convinced I'd met in another life, really wasn't from another life because I didn't have one? Sheesh. I was so sure we had some kinda cosmic connection. Shame ...

God: Oh, don't worry. Of course, he was. You see, this was your last life. You are perfect. Be proud.


Tuesday 15 February 2011

There are certain ways of marketing a book which I believe will stunt sales. (and a special announcement)

I'm going to make a very bold statement. But before you take it negatively, please hear me out first, because in actual fact, it's not negative at all, it's positive.

My statement:
I lose interest in social networkers who only ever blog, facebook, twitter about their books, sales figures and other people's reviews of their books.

Let's face it. We've all gotta market our work if we want to sell it. But there is a better way than just 'putting it out there'. People are going to be so much more interested in someone's book if it's not in their face all the time, and/or they do their plugging along side other, more interactive issues. Please be clear here, that I am not criticising anyone in particular. I'm just voicing an opinion I have come to realize greatly effects what I choose to read online, and I believe I'm not the only one who feels like this. I want to interact with authors. If I just wanted information about a new release, I'd read the newspaper. Get my drift?

For example, who would you consider buying a book from ...

This kind of social networker:
"My book titled 'blah' is available on blah, blah and blah. Please review it." (The real meaning = Please buy my book, pretty please, even though you know nothing about me. Why should you know anything about me to want to buy my book? Read the blurb, it's interesting! You just have to trust me on that, even though, really, I haven't given you any reason to trust me on that, because we've never interacted together online.)

Or, this kind of social networker:
"You'll never believe the week I've had and what I've discovered. I did this and this and this, and it made me feel like this and this and this. Does this kind of thing ever make you feel like this too? Please tell me I'm not alone. PS: My book is finally on Amazon! I'd love for you to check it out!" (The real meaning = I really appreciate my followers, and I also really want to know more about them and want to share all my ups and downs with them and discover if we have anything in common. And once we've established that, I hope that one day they'd like to purchase my book. And if they do - bonus! If not, I'm still going to interact with them anyway, because we've become such great friends.)

I don't know about you, but I choose option two. I don't feel like I'm being handed a press release in the street this way. And I feel like they actually want me to be there, to experience what they're experiencing with them. In my opinion, this is how we should network if we want people to take notice. And I don't think doing this is any more complex than the straightforward announcement.

In addition, never, ever, excuse my abruptness here, but never just tweet something like this: Title of book, great review #clickthislink. Because I won't click it. But I will click it, if you tweet: I'm so excited and thrilled about this review! Thank you so much, (name of person who wrote the review) #clickthislink. If you tweet that, I'll click it because you seem appreciative. Well, I would if I was on Twitter. ;o)

So, what kind of networking do you think works best? Do you agree with what I've said? Why/Why not?

Special Announcement!

Seeing as we're on the subject of plugging. Roland Yeomans has published his first book! Yay! Congratulations, Roland!Let's give him a little support and check it out, hey?

(See? Brief, to the point, and embedded in a post which should trigger INTERACTION. Interaction is the key, folks, and don't forget it!)

Monday 14 February 2011

One minute possessed ... the next, vibrating in a bubble bath.

Yesterday I finished revising String Bridge. I can't believe it! Over the weekend I was totally possessed. I completed ten days worth of scheduled revisions in two. It was crazy, I tell you! My brain was working in overdrive for some strange reason, and my fingers were struggling to keep up. But they did. And I didn't even have a meltdown when I finished. But this is not what today's post is about, it's about what happened to me afterward.

I ran a bath. With bubbles. A little too hot, but not scolding hot. I sat in it with Marilynne Robinson's latest novel, HOME. I got in. Winced. Made sure I didn't wet the hand I intended to hold the book with. All good. Ahh ... relax. And then suddenly ...

... the constant, ongoing noise in my head , which I had become accustomed to and thought was normal, stopped.

I swear I could hear dead skin cells dislodge themselves into the bath water. Yeah, I know, that's a disgusting thought, but I tell you, I could finally hear what was going on around me: the crackling of the bubble bath; the swipe of my fingertip across two millimetres of paper; the sound of a bird tweeting, probably 20 meters down the road, soared through my window like a train whistle; my significant other's mouse clicking through two closed doors. I could hear the vibrations of silence.

I took a deep breath and leaned my head against the white tiled bathroom wall and let myself sink into this amazing feeling as if a bed of velvet. For the first time, in a LONG time, I relaxed.

And then ... I dropped my book in the bath.

How do you feel after completing a big project? Does the noise in your head stop, even if just for a few minutes?

Friday 11 February 2011

Getting Giddy over 100-year-old books! OMG!

I know I'm not scheduled to post today, but I just HAD to share this with you! My father sent me some REALLY old poetry books from Australia, a couple are 100 years old! Check these out! I'm so excited. I don't know why, but they feel like treasure! They smell amazing and a couple are leather bound and squishy between my fingers. Yum!

Do you ever get giddy over antique books?

Thursday 10 February 2011

Road Trip Spectacular!

Just taking you on a tour of Greece today. Some of these photos were taken by my sister Allison when she visited over a year ago, and we went on a road trip together. I just have to say, it was one of the best times of my life. She's my half sister, and haven't spent much adult time together. The last time we spent quality time together, we were kids. So it was a wonderful, wonderful opportunity to bond; to learn more about each other. And what better way is there to do that than embark on a road trip spectacular!?

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Words that follow us like little lambs ... Let's flick them off the page! Here's how.

As an editor and a writer, I get nit picky with words that are used too often. And, believe me, I USE THEM TOO, they're common, easy to materialize, and they get the message across without much thought/effort -they do their job. Well, for the first draft, anyway. But, it's a good idea to get into the habit of highlighting them after you complete each scene/chapter, so you can immediately locate them during edits, and change the little buggers to something with more substance.

The words that follow me around like little lambs during the first draft are:

Now, I know you're going to think it's time for the thesaurus, which, I agree, is a great source to diversify your vocabulary, but ... um ... while we're on that subject, let me interrupt with a few common alternate words for the words I've listed above. I too believe we should use these sparingly. I'll show you how in a minute.
Alternate words are:
smile: grin, laugh, giggle, smirk, guffaw (I love this word)
frown: grimace, pout, sulk
sigh: exhale, breath heavily, groan, murmur

Right ... back on track. What I was planning to say here was, that there are other ways to get these kinds of actions across by describing emotional responses. Let's take a look at some quick examples I'm just going to make up on the spot here. They're not very thought out, but they get my point across:

Example One:
"I got the part!" Jon cried, smiling enthusiastically. (ooh look, I added an adverb to make it even more taboo ;o)
"I got the part!" Jon jogged on the spot with impulsive fervor.

Example Two:
"I got the part," Jon frowned.
"I got the part." Jon ran his fingers through his hair, put his hands in his pockets and shook his head at his shoes.

Example Three:
"I got the part," Jon sighed with relief.
"I got the part." Jon bent forward and let his arms swing, loose like a chimpanzee, before flopping on the couch and switching on the TV.

See how much better a picture we get of how Jon is feeling? I mean, I know, these are rough, but you do get to see how Jon's emotion is significantly clearer in all the 2nd descriptions, right?

So now it's your turn. Choose one of the following and revamp it with a detailed emotional response! Looking forward to see what you come up with! ;o)

"The cat's dead," Jon smiled.
"The cat's dead," Jon frowned.
"The cat's dead," Jon sighed.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

What is this concrete you speak of? Oh! ...

Ever heard of concrete poetry? No? I hadn't either. But it's fun! This is my first attempt at one. What do you think? Click image to read.

PS: I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO relieved. The deadline on the Writing Skills book I have to write has been pushed back a WHOLE month! Woot! Ah ... relief ...

Have you ever tried to write an unusual form of poetry? Or if you don't write poetry, do you dabble in any other abstract art?

Monday 7 February 2011

Disappearing Behind My Mushy Brain!

My brain is a bit mushy. But mushy in an awesomely GREAT way. This year, it seems, is going to be my year.

100 Stories for Queensland: Long ListThis morning I got word that a short story of mine was accepted into 100 Stories For Queensland. I also had a telephone interview with, and I got the job! I'm now officially an independent contractor with them, and will be working approx. 25 hours per week editing fiction manuscripts. I can't believe it. So much better than ELT! Food for thought, and money for food! ;o)

I'm a little stressed out today, but it's okay. I have about 60 pages left to revise on String Bridge, and I'm done. I need to write a new edition of a Writing Skills book for Hellenic American Union before the end of the month, and I have to start doing work for FirstEditing next week. Argh! I'm also writing poetry for that collection I spoke about last week. Too many things going on, but ... I think I'm coping. I am. I'm coping. Because I HAVE to. Come end month, I can relax my shoulders which I think, right this minute are hitched up to my ears as I try to type up this post real fast.

Do you ever have so much on your plate you wonder whether you might just disappear underneath it all? What do you do to relax?

Thursday 3 February 2011

Poetry is giving me a mental illness and cramps. Is there such a thing as POCD (Poet's Obsessive Compulsive Disporder)?

I'm an unhealthy writer as of late. Last night was the final straw. I have to get myself away from the computer! I'm totally addicted to poetry, and I'm giving myself cramps!

First, I woke up around midnight, after being asleep for maybe only an hour with a crazy need to write a poem. Thank God for the notepad and pencil by my bed. But I didn't just write one poem, I wrote four.

Then I couldn't sleep, because I couldn't stop thinking about how I was going to edit them the next day. When I did fall asleep (at 1am), I had a dream about a poem. I wrote it in my sleep, recited it over and over while I was sitting in an electric chair, my mother standing over me, giving me a lecture about something I couldn't hear because I was reciting the poem over and over while she was speaking.

Then I woke up. At 4:30am. I couldn't get back to sleep. Had a horrible cramp in my side. So I got up. And you know the first thing I did? I typed up the poems, and edited them, and made them into precious gems, that I'm going to read over and over all day and wonder if I have any more in me, or whether I can remember the poem I wrote and recited in my dream. HELP!

I can't even go out and take a walk to clear my head. It's raining fat cats and dogs. Well ... wish me luck guys ... pray I don't write myself to death over the weekend ...

Do you ever become obsessive about your writing that you fear you might be doing yourself psychological damage?

Wednesday 2 February 2011

I do not read and comment, just so you comment back. I'm actually INTERESTED in what you have to say. How about you?

This blogging community is awesome and I'm amazed at the amount of support there is from you all on a day to day basis, but there is something ON TOP of this that I'd like to address today. I know that there is this general rule that we should comment on what we read, and should try to make the rounds to as many followers as possible to maintain a readership. But there's something about this, that only recently, due to my follower count growing, that is giving me a very painful stitch.

I follow all who follow me as a general personal rule. But there is no way that I am going to be able to read and comment on 500+ blogs daily, or weekly, or even monthly for that matter. And I hope you understand why. So, since achieving this wonderful amount of followers, which I appreciate IMMENSELY, I can only read and comment on posts that spark my interest - and that includes having a good title to make me want to click on your post in the first place.

I have to say though, I really do adore all my new followers (and old!), and I'm having an amazing time getting to know as many of you as I can. Unfortunately the pressures of getting my novel ready for release this year is really restricting my ability to keep up as much as I used to. I hope you can understand I'm doing the best I can, and I love you all.

This is really hard to admit to, but I'm just trying to be honest and realistic here. I don't want you to think I'm a one-sided blogger. I'm not. I LOVE INTERACTION. And if you have your email attached to your profile you're bound to receive personal replies from me. But I'm just not super woman! (Though, I wish I were.) So what I've been doing lately is scrolling down my dashboard to see what takes my fancy, from the titles alone. Then I'll read the blogs of my VERY GOOD friends. (Mind you, sometimes I don't even have time to do that.) Then, if I have time later in the day, I'll have another scroll to see if there's anything else I might want to read. That's all I have time for anymore. Unfortunately. Now, I'm praying - PRAYING - that admitting to this isn't going to make some of you disappear. Because it's not personal. It really isn't. All it has to do with is TIME.

So, I'm going to let you in on a secret. This is what I like to read:

All posts that deal with the craft of writing that offer a unique slant. By a unique slant I mean opinions from you - your own experience with the craft - not something you are reiterating from a book. I also love to read anything that reveals your true personality, no matter what the subject. What I love most about blogging is learning about all of you. When I go to your blog, I want to read about how YOU deal with things. How YOU live, love, learn, write, cry, plead for a helping hand. I want to KNOW ABOUT YOU. If I wanted to know about another author, I would go to their blog to find out about them, not yours.

However, if you have a post, you wish for me to read, or you need my help or support plugging a contest, blog fest, guest author, interview, whatever, send me an email saying, "Hey you, get your butt over to my blog, pronto!" And I'll be there.

And remember, it's all in the title. If you've got an appealing title, I'll click on your post, then it's your responsibility to keep me there with your wonderful way with words. And I'm sure this isn't just the case with me, it's the case everywhere. Why do you think newspapers have such teasing headlines? It's all in the title, folks. Best tip I ever received. :o)

What makes you want to read someone's post? Do you believe it's all in the title? Do you read and comment merely for the reciprocation, or are you  genuinely interested in what your fellow bloggers have to say?

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Chains, Velvet, Twisted Grace; Help me out with this small case?

As well as working on String Bridge revisions, I'm also compiling a poetry collection. Yeah, call me crazy, but I can do it. And sometimes it's nice to take a break from my novel, let's say for 15-20 minutes to scribble down a poem. I can do them pretty fast as I have life long practice with lyrics. A little completed gem, that I'll come back to later to tweak. I've scrapped my memoir project. I just can't do it. Not my style, and I'm not going to force it. But. This poetry book is inspired by childhood memories, so in other words, it's going to be a glorified version of my memoir in verse.

So, I need help with a title.

Consider that my style is very dark, experimentally lyrical free verse and prose with rich, vivid and stark imagery. And all the poems are based on my experiences as a child growing up with a drug addicted musician as a mother.

These are some possibles:

Velvet Chains
Twisted Velvet Chains
Twisted Chains
Velvet Steel
Twisted Grace
Fit For A Coffin
Still Holding My Breath

If you need to read a sample to make a better decision, go HERE to read a short flash fiction piece which reflects the style of my collection.

Of course, any other title ideas you have that aren't listed here are welcome too! :o)