Monday, August 18, 2014

Bits and Bobs and Some Other Meanderings

In my last post about the prejudices within a writer, I seemed to have struck a chord. Consequently, I received many thoughtful comments. One stood out for me and I wanted to share. It was from Carol Riggs: "Readers enjoy all types of books--not everything has to mean something profound. Isn't having readers enjoy a book a profound experience in itself, w/o having to change the world and be on the NYT bestseller list? I think so!" I think so too! Thanks, Carol and everyone who took the time to leave a comment. I appreciate all of them.

I won a $10 Amazon gift voucher from C Lee McKenzie as part of her Double Negative Tour. A big thank you to Lee! If you haven't picked up your copy of her latest YA book, do so today!

I recently read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. So far this is my absolute favourite book I've read this year. Wow, the voice is amazing, the story wonderful. I loved everything about it. Clearly, I need to read more MGs if this is the kind of gem I'll find. No surprises, the book won a Newbery award.

A $25 juicer from Kmart is my new friend (for however long it will last). Yes, I'm cheap. I'd wanted a juicer for a while but they all cost ridiculous prices when I wasn't sure I'd love it. Well, it turns out, I love it. Above is a pic of my more daring blend: kale, cucumber, apple and ginger. Yum. So far, my favourite blend is the good ole orange, apple and ginger combo. Tonight I might try carrot, fennel and ginger. Have you gone juice crazy? What weird combos have you tried (made or bought)?

I also recently mentioned my computer crashed big time. Well, I'm happy to say my tech-savvy husband got it up and running like new again. My game project is back on track. Woot.

Because I'm super busy with writing along with game development, I'll be back to post again on the first Wednesday of September for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. My favourite group! In the meanwhile, happy reading and writing!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Prejudices within the Writer #IWSG

The community of writers is a special one. It’s full of insane, generous people who have chosen writing as a pastime—or perhaps writing chose them. However, we’re not immune to prejudices—mostly against ourselves.

There’s a common belief that there are classes of writing. The good, the bad and the ugly. The literary, the genre and the first draft. Like all prejudices, they only damage. Not all writing needs to change the world. Not all of it needs to dig deep to uncover truths meant to change a person’s life. And not all of it needs to be perfect at every stage.

I’m a genre writer, my favourite being anything speculative. In some circles, science fiction and fantasy lack a certain kudos that literary works hold. Romance writers seem to be on the back foot as well and let’s not talk about the poor horror writers. Not only that, it’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’ll never be good enough, never get noticed by a publisher, and certainly never hit the bestsellers lists. That only happens to the lucky people.

Well, excuse my language, but pish posh to prejudices! Don’t let yourself lose focus. When I returned to the roots of why I started writing in the first place, I was suddenly okay with being a genre writer.

Writing is a form of expression that’s crucial to my sanity. It doesn’t matter what type of stories I create. It doesn’t matter that my work won’t turn into classics for generations to come. All I need to do is cast aside the damaging prejudices that are both contagious and toxic, and write what I love.

How about you?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. To join or check it out, click HERE.

Also we, at the IWSG, have a special announcement for the IWSG anniversary coming up. Stay tuned!! (Psst, it's super exciting).

And for those of you who have joined the IWSG Facebook Group, we've turned Fridays into promo day when you can share your links to your books, blogs or whatever you'd like to promote, or simply share any great news you might have.

Note: my main computer died (thus no pics in this post). The harddrive went boom. I'm not a happy camper. Luckily I can write anywhere (yay for crappy old laptops). Unluckily, however, it means my game project is on hold. Sigh. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Championing Your Story plus Transformers Review

Today's post is over at the IWSG. It's offering tips to help you be your best champion for your stories. I'd love to see you over there.

A quick Transformer's Review:
Yep, I dragged myself out into the cold Aussie winter and checked out Transformers 4. It's a true giggle-fest and all for the wrong reasons.

Sounds and music: awesome

Acting: Hmmm

Dialogue: So bad that I laughed in places I wasn't supposed to laugh.

Special effects: the destruction of anything and everything was impressive. Big thumbs up. However there were some dodgy green screen effects that could've used some attention.

Character development: none

Plot: holier than a holy thing on a holy day.

Final word: Switch off your brain and go see it. Despite its massive flaws, I had a good time. Probably because I expected little except things-go-boom and that's exactly what I got.

Seen any good (or bad) movies recently? Don't forget to pop on over to the IWSG.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dealing with Inevitable Setbacks #IWSG

Big news: I worked out how to open and close a door. Pretty awesome, huh? Okay, so I'm not talking about a regular door. I'm talking about a door on a skyship hovering above the clouds many years from now. Sound slightly more awesome now?

As some of you know, I've been working on a Mystery Project. I can now tell you I'm diving head first into the indie games industry. It's both exciting and challenging all at once. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the learning curve is massive, even though I have a background in 3D animation.

I had hoped to show you some polished screenshots by now, but I hit a monstrous setback. Testing revealed I needed to change my processes. That meant tossing most of what I'd done so far, setting aside everything I'd learned and focusing on a whole new way of achieving my goals—like opening doors. Sigh.

When faced with setbacks like this, it's easy to wallow and whine, to think it's all too hard. The same goes for when we're faced with massive rewrites to fix our manuscripts. Or when we're faced with the possibility that we can't go any further with that particular story and it's time to put it in a drawer to clear the way for a new story.

I'm a firm believer that no writing is wasted writing. No art is wasted art. No learning is wasted learning. While initially I did feel like I'd gone backwards with my indie games project, I soon realised I'd only go backwards if I gave up.

What setbacks have you had to face lately? How have you overcome them?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month.

To join the group or find out more, click here.

Picture: One of my unfinished corridors. No texture on anything except the door so far. But the door does open. Woot!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Then and Now

Today The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock are hosting the 'Then and Now' bloghop. It's about whether or not our favourite films from when we were kids have stood the test of time. I chose two. One that didn't lose it's shine and one that did.

The NeverEnding Story
Going to the movies was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid. I almost always went with my friends, but occasionally I'd go with my mum, especially if the movie was considered a kid's movie, which we secretly loved. At that time, anything kiddy was out and anything slightly geekish was even more out. The NeverEnding Story was both kiddy and geeky. So this was the first movie I ever went to see on my own.

I loved it. I suspect I loved it more because, being all adult-like, I saw it on my own. Then I went to a very un-adult birthday party where us kids played games like digging for chocolate in a pile of flour while our hands were tied behind our back. The topic of the movie came up at the party. My best friend piped up, jumping with excitement, 'I want to see that movie!' Holy Geek, Batman! It was suddenly okay to be odd. Yep, I loved that movie.

Now that I'm well and truly settled in my geekiness, the movie doesn't have the same magic it once did. I still love kid's movies, but this one leans slightly toward trying too hard. Perhaps it's the feeling I get of being told a message. The sets are still magical, the general storyline still great, but it has lost some of its lustre.

The Dark Crystal
A similar style of movie as The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal is another fantasy meant for a young audience. The difference is, this one was as glorious then as it is now. It has story, humour, a feast for the eyes with lush hand-built sets, nail-biting conflicts and memorable characters. And it was done using puppets (I refuse to call them muppets). What can I say? Best animated* film of all time.

What movies have stood the test of time for you? Which movies haven't?

*Okay, so it's not technically animated, but what would you call a puppet movie?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcoming the Sense of Failure as a Writer #IWSG

The deep dark certainty we've somehow failed as writers is a common ailment we all get at some point in our writing career. It's part of who we are and why we write in the first place. But just because it's as common as a wart doesn't mean we have to put up with it. There are a number of ways to overcome that horrible sense of having failed as a writer. The first and most important way is:

Don't see it as failure.
You know that tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth rejection letter you're holding in your shaking hands? That isn't failure. Instead it's another stone that's been turned on a beach full of possibilities. You know that paragraph/chapter/story that's refusing to write? That isn't failure either. It's a challenge to accept, a chance to rethink, a puzzle to solve.

Mistakes and mess happen, especially when we're writing a first draft. Even when we've reached a tenth draft. The process of writing is a long, slow and messy one. We have to dig in and get our hands dirty to find a treasure. The first try is bound to turn up a wonky throw-away. It's okay, though. We can tweak, adjust, and fix until that baby shines. Or we can toss it and start over. It's just part of the process and doesn't somehow make us failures as writers.

Make failure work for you.
Say you've failed to achieve a goal. A wholesome wallow can be good for the soul. So do your wallowing, maybe eat some chocolate. But don't let the dark depths drown you. Stand up, dust yourself off and get to business. I don't mean blindly charge forward, gritting your teeth in determination until the next fall. I mean, get to the business of dissecting the failure. Ask yourself where you might've tripped up so you don't trip on the same pebble again. Learn where your weaknesses lurk. Then actively work toward strengthening those areas.

Do the same for your successes. Don't simply celebrate and move on. Analyse why you might've succeeded. Why was this time different? You might be tempted to think you were simply lucky. While luck can have a small amount to do with success, it's never the whole story, nor even the main story. If you spend the time to uncover the cogs turning behind your successes, then you'll be more likely to make success happen again.

There's so much more to writing than sticking to schedules and following the rules. We are complex creatures who feed on creativity and wild extremes of emotion. Writing helps us make sense of the chaos. So the only time we fail is when we quit writing.

What are some mistakes you've learned from?

Photo: A photo I took a few years ago in a cave on the south coast of Australia.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month. 

To join the group or find out more, click here

Monday, June 2, 2014

4 Ways to Sift Through Writing Advice

There's a plethora of writing advice out there in bookstores, on the internet, at writing conferences, in critique groups, within the circle of family and friends. We are surrounded by well-intentioned people with opinions on how we should write. Some of the advice is sound, some of it contradictory, some baffling and some seems to make sense but you're not so sure a few months later. To find out how you can sift through all that information to know which advice to follow, click on over to the IWSG website where my post is today.

I'd also like to share Carol Kilgore's exciting cover reveal. I love this cover!

Coming September 2014

You can connect with Carol and her books here:
blog . website . facebook . twitter . goodreads . amazon

Congrats to Mark Noce who has a fabulous short story, "Meet Me at the Waterfront" on Every Day Fiction. It's well worth the read so pop on over.

Last week I forgot to mention the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Milestone. I don't know how I forgot. The IWSG Facebook group hit the amazing milestone of one thousand members! We're up to 1081 now! Big thanks to everyone who have made this possible.

Just a reminder about the IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. News and Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly. 

After all this exciting news, don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website! I'd love to see you over there.