Wednesday, 23 July 2014

28. Feeling (over) ambitious

Things change in the publishing world all the time and unfortunately, my local paper is no longer running the page to which my column belonged. However, it still appears in other papers in the area so I get to brag I am a columnist for a little while longer. I’ll just need to add another newspaper to the morning coffee and paper routine. Anyway, I thought I’d share last month’s column and catch up with this month’s contribution next time. Queensland was preparing for school holidays at the time I wrote this.

‘I’m bored!’ Two simple words, yet they strike dread through a parent’s mind.

The school holidays are almost here. We’ll have the usual battle over the last of the breakfast cereal, squabbles as to who should hold the television remote, and then the all-out epic assault over which channel to watch.

That’s what will greet me on day one within the first half an hour upon waking. By day four, they’ll make the mistake of asking me how to relieve said boredom when playing outside or reading their books just doesn’t cut it.

‘You could clean your room, sort your toys or do your chores’ will be met with howls of protest. Yep, the fun police are alive and well in this house. One summer holiday I had the bright idea of suggesting they write a letter to their grandparents. Then I had to explain that’s what happened in the ‘olden days’ before email, texting and Skype.

Since the kids normally veto my suggestions, these holidays I’m trying something different. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. From now on, the solution to any new ‘boredom’ matters is to ‘ask your father.’ Think it will catch on?

Of course, not every family dynamic is like mine, but I hope there was an opportunity for everyone to have a timeout somewhere over the holidays. Or does that happen when we joyously click our heels together as school resumes? I swear I didn’t say that last part aloud.

This month, instead of my regular writers’ group get-together, we had the pleasure of meeting and workshopping with ABC-Open Capricornia’s Lisa Clarke. ABC-Open is an Australia wide forum where individuals can share their stories, culture and lifestyle. Five hundred precious words convey our innermost thoughts and feelings as relevant to the ever-changing topics available. This month’s online topic was ‘the odd one out’. Our group produced some brilliant ideas (yes, I may be biased) and many of us entered our stories on the forum. The lovely Lisa showed the way with her hints, tips and suggestions. We needed a catchy title or heading, an image that would immediately attract the eye and was relevant to our story and then she guided us through the process of posting those stories. It was an excellent workshop and we enjoyed it.

It was fun to learn a little more about my fellow writers, but there was no guessing my topic. Many people share the fear of public speaking, so I’m not the odd one out where that's concerned. But on this particular night when everyone else had the crowd eating out of their hands, my fear of standing up and saying a few words went into overdrive. Still, it was fun to write and remember the occasion even if I don’t want to remember the morning after. ;)

And here is where you’ll learn more about ABC Open

On my reading list this time around was Ms Margaret Sutherland’s latest release – Saving Shelby Summers. This tale starts with a bang, and then meanders at a gentle pace to the final crescendo. This is a contemporary story that will not only tug at the heartstrings and make you feel for the characters but also remind you of a time when romance was a more subtle affair. The main protagonists, Shelby Summers, a shy young woman marred from a horrifying incident in her past, and Dr Nathan Monroe, a widow who lost his wife in the Queensland floods and is raising their young child alone, tentatively build a relationship despite their misconstrued ideas. I liked how they worked out their differences, pushed through their preconceptions and worked together to mend their broken lives. This is a beautiful story about family values and the way Ms Sutherland weaves her love of animals into the tale will bring a smile to your face.

As for me, I’m happy to report the dreaded lurgi is nearly gone. My cough wants to hang around and make a general nuisance of itself, (usually when I’m trying to have a conversation) but I’m almost myself again. The kids are back at school (re clicking heels from Mother of the Year candidate) and I’m finally in the right headspace to indulge in my passion. I’ve started a new novella and if it works out the way I hope, it will lead into another tale. I’ve never written a story that crosses into another before so fingers crossed I’m not being overly ambitious at this stage and it all works out. Regardless, it’s a story I’m keen to write, especially now that one of the more stubborn characters finally decided to share her name. One can’t refer to a character as ‘hey you’ so I’m glad she’s clued me in – although she’s not too happy with the nickname her romantic interest has given her, but I’ve no doubt he’ll bring her around to his way of thinking. J

Just to prove I’m completely mad, and definitely over ambitious, I’m revising a story I wrote a few years ago. Like most beginner writers, I wrote from a first person point of view. It was a proper novel in length and when I ‘finished’ I thought I’d done a great job. And while I am proud that I achieved something I’d always want to do and write said novel, when I reread it, I cringed. I’d known something was wrong when I came to write the second book of my proposed grand trilogy. Everything I wrote for the second book was in third person point of view. And revisiting the first story confirmed how deluded I was. My naivety and inexperience shone through as bright as any beacon. So now, I am rewriting this first novel, still with my ‘L’ plates on, but with fresh eyes, in third person point of view and with renewed vision of how I want this story to work. If you’ll pardon the analogy, the story has a great foundation – I just need to rebuild it from the ground up.

In other words, I have a lot on my mind, old and new characters to please and a hectic schedule to cover. Yes, definitely mad and overly ambitious, but possibly too far-gone to care.

Until next time. :)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

27. Head Cold Hell

For reasons beyond my control, there’s no newspaper column for June, however, I’m already scribbling away on the next one.

I’ve been feeling particularly ordinary this past week or so (hence the delay in posting). I blame the head cold, which has managed to sneeze out my happy endorphins and stuff my head with fairy floss (because the cotton wool just wasn’t cutting it.) I accompanied a family member to Brisbane for surgery to help with her 'after' care. The plan was to sit in the waiting room and write to my heart's content until it was time to go to the motel (and if a bit of extra 'motivation' walked by then that was a bonus, right?) However, I don't always deal well with flying.

As a precaution, I took a couple of travel sickness tablets. That's when the fun started. I was fine until I sat in the plane and then the anti-nausea tablets made me nauseous. My attempts not to be sick amused my companion no end, which was good as it took her mind off things for a while. As soon as we got to the airport, I made a dash for the bathroom where my stomach immediately evacuated its contents. The tablets also made me drowsy, so after muddling our way to hospital, (with her still laughing that I was supposed to look after her and not the other way around) my plans for writing went out the window as I dozed in a waiting room chair. No writing was attempted. I may have drooled, hell, I may have snorted, and you can be damn sure if anything 'interesting' walked by, I missed it. On the trip home, (no way was I taking a tablet) I started sneezing. By that night, I had a full-blown head cold and spent the next week being a miserable cow.

I wonder how the professional writers deal with illness when they’re on a deadline. No doubt, they put on their big girl panties (or jocks) and just get on with it. Note to self – purchase some big girl pants and then offer my apologies for any visuals that may have just occurred.

Before the head cold decided to make its presence known, I completed my suspense story draft. I proudly typed the words ‘the end’ in bold letters and felt momentarily relief and a sense of accomplishment before acknowledging the fact that it has to be put aside for a few weeks before it’s time to find all the mistakes. And there will be mistakes. :/

On the downside, the 50 K in 30 days I signed on for fell to the wayside as I battled with the dreaded lurgi. I managed just over 23 K, but as always, the encouragement from writers on the same quest has been invaluable even if their progress was more inspiring than mine was. Although if I counted this blog, writer’s group homework, the odd shopping list and the time I spend chatting on social media, I’m sure I’d have a worthy tally. ;)

I’m pleased to share my local writers’ group anthology cover. ‘Too Long for Twitter’ is due for release at the end of July in time for our biannual Curtis Coast Literary Carnivale. Each picture gives a hint as to the stories we’ve worked on whether it’s been set homework or our choice. We’re very proud of our local production. :) As soon as I have details re our website, I will amend the blog accordingly.

I also have my copy of the Capricornia Writers ‘Gem’ Anthology in which two of my short stories are proudly displayed. :) I must say I am pleased I wasn’t one of the judges in this prize winning compilation. There are some amazing stories in here. If anyone’s interested in learning more, please click on the link provided. :)

I'm also sharing some writing love for one of my fellow Dark Siders. This is Christina Phillips' latest release - HER VENGEFUL SCOT, the second book in her Highland Warrior Chronicles hits the cyber shelves on July 4th.  Here's the link for the cover - 

and this is Christina's website - 

Now that I’ve had my whinge, because apparently, mothers don’t ever really get sick, raided the medicine cabinet, stolen the last tissue box and had enough garlic and horseradish tablets to knock out a nest of vampires, I’d better get back to the writing. (Normal underwear will have to do.) Who knows, a drugged creation might be the masterpiece I’ve been waiting for.

Bless me! And pass the lemon and honey! :)