Category Archives: The personal touch

Christmas Confessions

I can’t believe it, but apparently it’s true – another year is coming to an end. The tree is decorated, lights are hung, Christmas shopping is complete. While traditionally it’s the time of year we reflect on the last twelve months, I thought perhaps it was time for some confessions.

Some Christmas Confessions

Confession 1 – Every year I buy my sister a book for Christmas, because I know once she’s read it, she’ll pass it on to me, so technically it’s a present to myself!! Now don’t get me wrong. xmas-book-wrappedBooks are my favourite present to give, and this year I’m giving one to her, one to my mum, one to my friend Gigi, and two to my daughter. Because I love giving books. I love choosing something I think they might like. I love hearing about their reading experience afterward. To me the gift of a book is a gift of love. But the one I give my sister is always one I want to read myself, so while it carries all that other significance, I must confess it isn’t a totally selfless gift.

Confession 2 – I don’t miss my Dad at Christmas. This sounds harsh, but it’s really not. Dad died seven years ago and since his passing it’s never been dates, as such, that get to me. Father’s Day is a little sad as I remind hubby to send something to his dad, knowing I can’t send anything to mine, but birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas have never got to me. The times I miss my dad most are random moments. When a new Doctor Who is cast and I want to discuss with Dad if the actor is a good choice. When I’m not sure if the small Aussie town I’m writing about would have had electricity in 1930 and I want to ask him, because that would be the sort of thing he’d know. When Bannockburn comes on the telly in some show I’m flicking past, because we travelled through Scotland, just the two of us, a couple of years before he passed and he could expound on the history and battles that took place there and I wish we could do it all again. When I have a big decision to make and I want to be able to talk to him about it, because he was the best at talking things through. When a Cole Porter cole-portersong plays in a movie, because that music is synonymous with Dad and we saw Anything Goes in London’s West End when we were on that trip in the UK. When I finish a manuscript and want to tell him, because he was the first person I ever told I was writing and he was so in awe and so encouraging and understood what a big a deal it is to put that many words on paper. I don’t miss Dad at Christmas, but I miss him all the time.

Confession 3 – seemingly at odds with #2 – I do miss home at Christmas when we don’t travel back. We live 6 hours’ drive from my home town, and hubby’s family are 6 hours away in a completely different direction, so I only get home once every couple of years for the holidays, and it never feels right not being with Mum and my sister and her kids at Christmas.xmas-beach And it never feels right not being on the beaches of my youth at this time of year either. (Except the year we spent Christmas in Prague, because that was too magical not feel ‘right’.) This year we are at my in-laws and one of my friends is in my home town for the holidays and she keeps posting photos on Facebook and I must confess, I’m jealous as all get up.

I think three might do it. If you’re feeling brave, leave me a little Christmas Confession in the comments below – just between you and me!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and happy and safe holiday season. May 2017 be the year your dreams come true.

S

Special Guest Star

This month I’ve been invited to be a guest blogger on the Eternal Scribbler blog. Yes, I feel a bit special – thank you Ari for asking me.

It’s always hard for me to come up with a topic for my blog, and with the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop I normally participate in taking a break for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t sure what to write about. I mean it’s one thing to ramble on to you guys, my loyal followers. But to subject other unsuspecting innocents to my waffle, is another thing altogether.

photo source - theodysseyonline.com

photo source – theodysseyonline.com

But, then, just as life often does, it gave served me up my topic.

So, if you want to read my thoughts on just what it feels like to call myself “a writer”, head on over to The Eternal Scribbler site here and check out my post

Own It Baby, Work It.

And make sure you leave a comment, so I know you got over there ok!

Thanks for stopping by.

S 🙂

Shhhh! It’s a Library.

This month on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop Julie has set the topic of libraries, and I’m going to take a slightly personal approach today.

All my adult life I’ve wanted a library. A room filled with books, a quiet space to read and write, inspiration on every shelf around you. I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right? And given that I have over 90* unread books in my TBR pile, which you can read about here, and I don’t own an e-reader, it only make sense that I NEED a library.

Problem is, our house is small. Really small. I have books strewn from one end to the other, piled precariously, and nowhere to put anything resembling a library.

slight exaggeration, but you get my point

slight exaggeration, but you get my point

But, friends, all is not lost. You see, we (as in hubby and I) have come to the conclusion that our tiny, rundown, literally-falling-down-around-us home has come to the end of its useful life and we’ve decided to knock-down and rebuild.

Yes! My dream house! Finally.

not my actual dream house, but hey!

in my dreams!

OK. So, there’s no way we can afford my actual DREAM house, but I figure if we’re going to build surely I can get included a few, little, things I’ve always wanted. Like a double oven. And, of course a library.

Now, I don’t need a huge library, although if someone with more money than we have offered to build me something like this…library

I wouldn’t say no.

I’m thinking more along the lines of this…home-library-3home-library-2

This has caused a few arguments (what do they say about building being one of the most stressful things you can do?!), as hubby doesn’t quite understand my burning desire to have a room dedicated to books, despite the fact he almost falls over the ones strewn about the house. The arguments became so problematic at one point, that my friend came up with a perfect solution…

library-planI mean, what’s not to love about that plan? Miss 10 did ask where she was going to sleep, but, you know, minor detail!

All jokes aside though, I have convinced hubby that a library/study-writing room is an investment in our future and will pay off once I get published (once, not if…once, not if…) and we met with the builders and the designer last week and I’ve put in my request. Cue fireworks.

fe-heart-fireworksWe should be getting the design in a week or so, so keep your fingers crossed for me that 1 – a library fits in with the plans and 2 – we can afford it (time to get a second job?)

What about you? If you were building your dream house, what would you want included?

*The TBR pile is now up to 105 – shhhh!

S 🙂

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-sept-2016

Book Blurbs and Bachelors

Today on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our fearless leader, Julie Valerie, has set the theme of “Jacket Copy”. I’ve written about covers before, here…and here. And I’ve talked about titles before hereand here. So I guess that brings us to the next most important part of a book’s jacket….

The Blurb

For me, and according to research the majority of readers, the first thing I do after a gorgeous cover catches my eye, is read the blurb on the back. And that is the point at which my purchasing decision is made or broken.

It’s a bit like dating, I guess. Pretty face (cover) – I’m listening. Great pick-up line (blurb) – let’s go on a date (buy the book). And just as with dating, the next step is to start delving deeper into the man’s (book’s) soul to see if we can find true love.

But the path to true love is never as smooth as we hope, is it? Here’s an example from my (long) “dating” history.

book tomorrow“Bachelor number one” – you had me at ‘hello’. Such a pretty face, an author I knew (like a friend of a friend – probably safe), book tomorrow coverand just you read those pick-up lines! What book loving reader wouldn’t want to date that?

Thankfully, the book delivered and we had a very happy and loving relationship.

But (oh, there’s always a ‘but’), blurbs can’t always be trusted. No. They are sneaky little things that can trick you with the hope of reader-heaven. But, just like a handsome man who knows how to talk the talk, a blurb can turn out to be nothing but empty promises.

100 names cover“Bachelor number 2” – Pretty face – check, same author (our 1st date was amazing), and a pick-up line that knew just how to 100 names blurbmelt my heart and appeal to everything I always wanted in a date. But oh, no. Mr Perfect turned out to be all talk and failed to deliver my literary dreams and left me disappointed, alone and drowning my disillusion in a tub of ice-cream. Oh yes, we’ve all dated men (books) like that before.

But just as in love, we can’t give up. We can’t let one (or two, or 10) pretty-boy-blurbs with no substance stop us from chasing our literary love match. We must throw ourselves back into the book dating game, knowing that our next literary affair of the heart is just around the corner, waiting to sweep us off our feet.

Thankfully, most blurbs do deliver. Thankfully also, that unlike finding that one special someone we’re meant to be with, books don’t insist on monogamy, and we can have as many book-loves as we like.

Have you ever been let down by a blurb you thought was brilliant but the books was just meh?

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-july-2016

Bookstore Bliss

For someone who has a TBR pile numbering over 95 books (I say over now as I might have been shopping since I wrote this post here – shhh), the topic set by Fiction Writers Blog Hop host Julie for this month’s hop being BOOKSTORES is a dangerous thing indeed. Just imagine the “research” I could justify, doing it all in the name of a blog post!!books gilmore girls.gif

Oh, and where to take the topic? Bookstores in films? Famous bookstores around the world? The death of bricks & mortar bookstores debate? Oh me, oh my.

For me a bookstore is a sanctuary of hope and possibility, where I might discover my next favourite author, where I can get lost for hours looking at covers and reading blurbs, trying to limit myself to buying just one or two of the many I decide I simply MUST have.

My sister and I have had discussions (albeit not very serious ones), about opening a cupcake café/bookstore back in our home town on the coast, where we’d be surrounded by books and book people and would get paid to buy and read our favourite titles – every day! Let’s just ignore for the moment the obvious problem of sugary frosting being smeared between the pages of Austen, or sticky chocolate ganache gluing the sheets of a Game of Thrones volume together, and just imagine the joy of turning up to work each day. And once our cupcake/bookstore is up and running and I become an established author, I can get my author friends to come and run writing workshops. Cupcakes and books and writer workshops….I don’t know about you, but that’s my idea of paradise.

Of course, the fact I can’t convince my hubby to leave Sydney, and the fact my sister and I don’t have any start-up money, and the fact that neither of us has any retail experience, and the fact that this becoming-a-published-author caper is taking much longer than I thought…means this cupcake/bookstore dream might just be that – a dream.

Oh, but I won’t let that dishearten me. I’m a writer, right? And that means I can create any kind of world I like on the page and spend as much time as I like there. So, good friends, in my newest WIP I have a bookstore! It’s not a cupcake/bookstore (I kind of exhausted my cupcake quota in my last work OF CUPCAKES AND DANDELIONS), but it is a bookstore…with a café… on the beach! Snap! And over the next few months, I plan to spend a lot of time there. This is my inspiration board for my WIP. Collage insp boardOh yes. I’ll be spending lots of time in this world.

If you can’t make it happen in real life, make it happen in your books I say!

If you could create your dream bookstore, what would it look like?

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-june-2016

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time

So this month on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our wonderful host Julie Valerie, challenged us to a theme. We didn’t have to stick with the theme, but I figure if she’s going to the trouble of setting one, I’ll go to the trouble of sticking with it. (Not that it’s any trouble. In fact, it makes it easier to have a topic picked for me:) )

The theme she picked was….Show Us Your TBR Pile!

the book ends I bought specially

the perfect bookends

I have blogged about my TBR pile before, but figured there is ALWAYS a way to look at something from a fresh perspective, so here we go.

Firstly, I thought to really look at my TBR pile, I have to get all my unread books in one place, instead of having them spread all throughout the house. So I gathered them all up and made one (3) big pile (s). Perhaps the reason I haven’t done this before, is because it’s scary…

after I took this I found a few more hiding...

after I took this I found a few more hiding… so a total of 95

Oh me, oh my! How long will it take me to get through all that? Well, thanks to google, I found out. On Read It Forward’s website there is a handy little calculator where you type in how many books are in your pile, how many you read last year and how old you are. Here are my results….tbr calcu

Admittedly, I am the world’s slowest reader. Just ask my poor, long suffering CP. She’ll tell you (wave Hi Lee if you’re reading). But boy is that sobering. And that’s assuming I don’t buy any more books in the mean time.

So then I thought, ok, how can I make a bigger dent in this pile, reduce that time? And I googled again looking for answers. Here were some of the top tips…

  1. Read More – well, yes. Obvious much? I have thought of that. But if I read more, I could justify buying more…see the problem?
  2. Read Multiple Books at Once – um, no. Can’t do that. I get plots and characters confused. Tiny brain can’t cope with that.
  3. Learn to Speed Read – I reckon this is how my hubby gets through all his reading, but I also reckon he must only get the gist, not the delicious layered nuances and plots and themes, and that’s the best part of reading. I don’t want to miss that.
  4. Get a Book Buddy or Book Club – I already belong to a book club, and we have books from the library, which just ADDS to my TBR, and I often don’t finish my book club books and then the ladies frown at me and make evil staring faces and I feel really guilty.
  5. Accept the Fact You Will NEVER Get Through You TBR Pile – think I might just have to go with this one.

So, that’s my TBR pile. As long as I don’t buy anymore books between now and 2032, I’m set. Hang on. The postie is at the door….

And look what he brought me…d’oh!

Once Lost by Ber Carrol

Once Lost by Ber Carroll

That might just push me out to 2033!

So, friends, how big’s your pile? Go on. Be honest.

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-apr-2016

Seventh Heaven?

The dreaded lurgy has been through our place. And for us that doesn’t just mean sloth-ing in front of the telly and a trail of tissues strewn from one end of the house to other. tissuesNo, for us, a simple virus becomes a major ordeal as my daughter has Type 1 Diabetes and Virus = Blood Glucose Level Havoc. So, for the past two weeks I’ve been up nearly every night at midnight, 2 am, and 4 am, working to keep my girl’s BGL in ‘the safe zone’.

Needless to say, I’m pretty shattered right now, so I’m going to cheat on this blog post a bit. I read on someone else’s blog about the Triple 7 Challenge, and while I wasn’t ‘tagged’ to do it, I’m going to tag myself and steal the idea as it means a quick and easy post.

Good news (or maybe not), for you lot is …. More sharing!

The Triple 7 Challenge is this – Take 7 lines from the 7th page of your manuscript and share, and then tag 7 other bloggers to do the same.

So from This Shadow Life – 7 lines from page 7…

When she opened her eyes again, the morning chorus of magpies and lyrebird no longer floated through the open window, the constant, gentle buzz of the old fridge could not be heard: The Silence.cupcakes

Her hands steadied as she hulled the strawberries and folded them into the batter. She pushed a square of white chocolate into the centre of each waiting cupcake and her breathing quickened. Strawberries and white chocolate were not a combination she’d ever used before; ever wanted to use. Strawberries, yes. White chocolate, yes. But never together. How could Sylvia have known?

I’m not going to tag others as such. But how about any writers reading this, do the Triple 7 Challenge for your next blog post. And any readers popping by, open up the 7th page of whatever you’re currently reading and share below in the comments your favourite line from the page.

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s Book Blog, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-aug-2015

S 🙂