Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Zed vs Zee

"Zed!" I growled at my daughter "The letter is pronounced ZED we are not American, nor is this the 57th state of that particular country."  I was fuming. I had just read that yet another American based company had bought out yet another Australian company and was attempting to Americanize it, ZEDs and all so I was not in any mood to have my daughter and her friends singing with an American accent. The inevitability of blending everything in the world as we become a global nation rather than individual places has produced many a backlash against the bombardment of our own identity markers.

This is from Australain Geographic magazine's article on the top 100 Australian Icons.

Australia is a nation with both a very old culture and a very young and very mixed population bringing with it all of their former homelands and so our cultural identity is something we are still discovering.   There was a lot of bad feeling between Australia and America during war times. At a ground level not in international political paperwork but in the face to face interactions between Australian and American military. Many a skirmish between them is recorded in various places due to inequity in wages, holidays and because the 'yanks' took all the local girls. Many a half yankee baby was born in the aftermath of the war. The local blokes resented that.  In a country such as Australia, post ww2, our identity had an abrupt shift. In the 60s we no longer wanted to identify as British and many people were ashamed and embarrassed by the way our leaders and predecessors from Europe had treated our indigenous people. Legislation began to change to recognise the legal standing of the Aboriginal people and the younger generations were beginning to say "I am Australian" and not 'run home to the mother country' as their parents and grandparents most likely did. Many young peoiple had never been anywhere near Europe and had no connection with it in their own minds and personal identity.
 The biggest problem for generations has been popular fiction. Most of our television content was and still is American. The children of the 70s and 80s grew up saying zee because they do on sesame street. The movies were predominantly American and the bombardment of advertising and merchandise was also American. The 90s saw a shift from this and we now have a higher Australian content of live children's shows but still the cartoons are all American.
It is only very recently that our Indigenous population and culture has begun to filter into the daily psyche of our people. The reality there is that every tiny thing we embrace halts the atrophy of this once great culture with its myriad of language groups and history. We have lost so much that can never be recalled but still it is an uphill battle against the might of the media that dictates our daily dose of pop culture.
Much of our Australian identity is myth rather than reality but it gives us a sentimental view of who we are and helps us to become what we really want to be which is not American. Just as I am sure my American friends would not want to be Australian, I do not want to be American. I would love to visit, I would love to see some of the things I learned about in movies and hear in song lyrics, I don't want to live there, I like it here.

"I Am Australian" is a popular Australian song that I love to sing. It was written in 1987 by Bruce Woodley of The Seekers(almost iconic folk band)  and Dobe Newton of The Bushwackers. Its lyrics are filled with many historic and cultural references, such as to the 'digger'(WWI soldiers), Albert Namatjira(indigenous artist) and Ned Kelly(bushranger/cult hero), among others. It is a terrific song for encompassing what we are trying to see as being Australian.

My Island Home" is popularly believed to be a song about Australia. However, it was written by Neil Murray and originally performed by his Warumpi Band in reference to their lead singer's (George Burarrwanga) home up at Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory as said by Neil Murray's Site

My children's book for the day is about that song. My Island Home by Neil Murray is illustrated by children from Papunya and Galiwinku, and with paintings by Peter Hudson. It contains the lyrics to the song, ‘My Island Home’, written by Neil Murray for his friend and fellow musician, George Burarrawanga when they were both members of the Warumpi Band.

I love the foreword in this so much I am  going to reproduce part of it here.

listen to the Christina Anu version here

 Identity is something many nations are fighting to maintain. Not just in Australia.

Foods identified with a particular place such as  Gorgonzola, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Piave cheese, Asiago cheese, Camembert, Somerset Cider Brandy and Champagne can only be labelled with those names if they come from the designated region. To qualify as Roquefort, for example, cheese must be made from milk of a certain breed of sheep, and matured in the natural caves near the town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France, where it is colonised by the fungus Penicillium roqueforti that grows in these caves. 
Three European Union schemes of geographical indications and traditional specialities, known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI), and traditional specialities guaranteed (TSG), promote and protect names of some agricultural products and foodstuffs. This was a vital move for people who were frightened of losing their identity to a larger global beige where all the local colour and flavour would blend into a dull nothingness.

How we identify ourselves is important to our sense of self and the way we deal with the world at large. I hope one day in my lifetime everyone will identify themselves first as human and secondly by their place of origin or chosen home. That might just turn us into rainbow people rather than beige. 

 Last day of blogging my book and camp nanowrimo. My tally sits at 27ooo + I have around 2400 words to go to hit the finish line for the month. I will have to write at least another 30,000 to finish this novel but it is off to a very good start. CampNaNoWriMo is a good practice run for the November challenge. Last year in April I wrote 57,000 words but I was not doing any other challenges and I was staying with a friend with NO Domestic duties. A real holiday that was. In November last year I wrote 104,000 words which became two novels. One complete and sent out into the world and one yet to finish but I plan on doing that next month.

It is also almost the end of RhyPiBoMo and I am happy to say I completed two picture book drafts in rhyme which are now with my critique groups. I also entered a writing competition and an illustration competition and submitted six stories to anthologies and six pieces of flash fiction to various places online. I kept up with the 52 week illustration challenge and we are now into week 18 which is themed Celestial Body. That should be fun to draw.

Thank you to everyone who came to visit my blog during the A to Z challenge. I certainly enjoyed visiting other people's blogs and finding out so many new and wonderful things.

So as Z is the end of the alphabet, the 30th is the end of April and  all things come to an end at some time,  I would like to remind myself that ends are usually beginnings on the other side of the door. 

Sending love to all my fellow humans out there.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Y is for Yearning

Yearning = a feeling of intense longing for something.  I have a yearning to be published under my own cover. By this I mean my own novel or picture book. I am working toward that with all the things I do each day. I blog, I blog hop, I read and I study, I practice and practice and I write. Oh I write and write and write.

I read the three Divergent novels in the last two days and I yearn to be able to write in a manner that feels easy and flowing as this trilogy is. There a a lot of new writers who have that easy flow to their work.I told someone recently that I knit tight and write tight and I wonder if I loosened up metaphorically whether I would write with more of a loose flow? 

I like my writing and apparently my beta readers like my writing and editors of anthologies like my writing but still I feel it could be a little more relaxed. I should try relaxing.

There are other things I yearn for, some I can never have because they could only be achieved by other people changing who they are so these are more pipe dreams than yearnings. I never realised that pipe dreams referred to the hallucinations obtained from smoking various pipes including opium and other plant based products. I never was interested in smoking but I do admit I like the smell of some tobacco products before they are set on fire.

So yearning? I yearn for romance and love but I am practical enough to realise the closest I will get to that is by writing a novel and having my protagonist live the yearning for me. 

I yearn to travel and feel this is withing the boundaries of  possible. My yearning increased after seeing all the wonderful plaes people have blogged about.

I also yearn to reach my word count before Wednesday so I better get on with it. 

What do you yearn for? 

Xenophobia to Xanadu

The ridiculous to the sublime today

Xenophobia is the irrational or unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange," "foreigner," and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." 
  Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an "uncritical exaltation of another culture" in which a culture is ascribed "an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality". (Think Sparta and all the memes espousing its aggressive lifestyle)

There are strong recommendations from international bodies to legislate laws that will reflect the groing desire of thinking humans to be rid of xenophobic actions in our world
All governments should take immediate measures to develop strong policies which prevent and combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia or related intolerance, where necessary by enactment of appropriate legislation including penal measure.

When I was a child in the 1960s, my parents had a group of friends or cronies(depending on point of view). One was Aspro - the slow working dope, another was Mick the Jew, Jonny the Wog, Ray & Fay, and Uncle Gimmie and The Bloody Bikies, and others. The names were always said like that. "Aspro-the-slow-working-dope", "Mick-the-Jew". I loved these people and the colourful additions they made to my childhood. I am very glad that I had no idea what the sentences meant. I did not know until my adulthood that Jew meant someone from a particular religion,I didn't know what dope meant in the context of the name, I didn't know what 'black as the ace of spades' meant because the deck of card we owned was blue and red and I didn't know what a lot of nicknames meant other than names. I thought Wog , Wap,  Nip and Jew were surnames like Jones and Smith and Brown. What I am grateful about is that I grew up never thinking of those people as anything other than kind, lovely, interesting pseudo aunts and uncles who were part of the landscpae of my childhood and I missed them more than they could possibly know.  All of the people who were attracted to the dangerous charisma of my parents provided me with wonder and hope and longing and a view of the world as something amazing. Uncle Jonny whose real name was Giovanni used to bring us home made salami and my mother would hang it in the wardrobe to cure. We children would sneak into the wardrobe and eat it from the bottom up to where we could no longer reach. I would roll the name Giovanni around my tongue, it was so exotic a name. Uncle Jonny introduced us to zuccini and broccoli and so many interesting things while all the other kids still ate boiled peas, carrots,  mashed potatoes and lamb chops.
For me this song sums up the whole problem

"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," ( 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.)
You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

I am so glad I did not learn that lesson or ingrained hate.

Here is the poetry snippet for today.... Xanadu

Xan·a·du   [zan-uh-doo, -dyoo] 

noun.     a place of great beauty, luxury, and contentment.
 S.T. Coleridge's modification, in the poem “Kubla Khan” (1797), of Xandu  (17th century spelling), modern Shangtu, the site of Kublai Khan's summer residence in SE Mongolia
 Kubla Khan  is a poem written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, completed in 1797 and published in 1816. According to Coleridge's Preface to Kubla Khan, the poem was composed one night after he experienced an opium-influenced dream after reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan. Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted by a person from Porlock. The poem could not be completed according to its original 200–300 line plan as the interruption caused him to forget the lines. He left it unpublished and kept it for private readings for his friends until 1816 when, on the prompting by George Gordon Byron, it was published.
Some of Coleridge's contemporaries denounced the poem and questioned his story about its origin. It was not until years later that critics began to openly admire the poem. Most modern critics now view Kubla Khan as one of Coleridge's three great poems, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. The poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of the manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

W for Wonder

W is for wonder and there are so many wonderful things in this world and many wonderful things that people do. I felt that I needed to counter my post from yesterday with one of the incredible things that make me wonder.


The Writing world is a wonderful place. I have written so many stories in the past twelve months and joined groups from all genres. I have more than 20 stories accepted for almost 20 anthologies from horror and romance to children's stories and science fiction.  I have a shelf on my book case just for books with my work in them. 

I found the different groups had very different ways of working but also very similar attitudes and behaviours. The horror writers are fanatical about horror and discuss their favourite horror writers, horror conventions, costumes, merchandise and movies. The romance writers talk about romance, hang out with romance people, go to romance conventions and talk about romance writers they admire, romance movies and romance art. The science fiction writers are always quoting science fiction writers and science fiction movies, they go to conventions and have collections of sci-fi merchandise, posters and books. The fantasy writers are off with the pixies and they attend cos play events(as do sci fi and horror people), conventions, reenactments and they discuss fantasy and fantasy writers, films(not so much) and art. Are you seeing a pattern here? Like all careers, the way to really make things happen is to immerse yourself in all things to do with that career. Surround yourself with the people who lift you up and add to your toolbox, teach you the jargon and the skills to be excellent in that career. I have been involved with people from all these groups this past year but the group I am really enjoying is the KidLit world of writers and illustrators.  The picture book and board book writers, the rhymers, the non fiction writers for kids, the teens, tweens and young adult writers. They are amazing and wonderful. Writing and illustrating go hand in hand in the kidlit world. Good literature for children is an aural, visual and oral feast that leaves an impression, sometimes for a lifetime. Children's creatives are very generous with their time knowledge and skills. They have the longest waits for word on their manuscripts. While a fantasy or romance writer may wait up to 12 weeks, kid lit people may wait 8 months before they hear if they have been accepted or rejected. It is a highly competitive market and no instant returns.

The writing world is incredibly wonderful. Yet so few ideas ever make it to the book shelves. I used to wonder why. If 300,000 people world wide join NaNoWriMo every November, why are only one or two published from that? If every person I meet says "I want to write a book some day" and never do, I  wondered why. Many writers are post their first career and many are retired. Why? I am discovering the hard way why so few stories ever make it to print.

Here is the step by step process of why.

1 idea formulates( this may take years - rent still needs to be paid)
2 idea is written( a rough draft between making school lunches and 'real' work)
3 Idea sits in a drawer somewhere -Until the family crisis, sport taxi, recital, grad ceremony of the third child is over- mortgage payments need to be met.
4 Idea dusted off while on a camping trip with family - needs to be read between camp fire, swimming and fishing and packing or unpacking the vehicle.
5 Right I am going to finish this darn thing stage (about 7 years after the first idea, usually done late at night with a glass of red wine while the last kid to leave home is asleep and spouse watches a movie- ps rent and/or mortgage still needs to be paid from wage/salary of 'real' job)
6 Manuscript complete - find and send to someone to read over (actual symptoms of terror occur at this point akin to handing your first born baby over to a stranger)
7 Friend says 'nice' things and the writer is bouyed by this but not sure of the qualification of the friend to give a good critique.
8. Writer joins writing group and finds strangers to critique work. Subjective responses send writer into crazy rewrites trying to please everyone. Writer hates rewrite and wants to throw it away but decides to dump it back in the drawer for three years.
9 Writer joins classes on and offline, at night, on weekends where they fit into the non writer job and family commitments,  to learn about writing.
10. Finally after a decade the writer gets it out, dusts it off, edits again and researches and edits more and rewrites and edits more ( children have all left home for greener pastures, mortgage has three payments to go)
11. Manuscript sits in an envelope on the side board for six months while writer gets up the courage to send it to an agent or editor of their choice after extensive research in where to send it. Contains SSAE. Writer comes to realise envelopes and hard copy are outdated and has learned to email to the correct recipient.
11. Wait
12 Wait
13 Rejection after 12 weeks of waiting.
14 Writer goes into downward spiral of self depreciating comments
15 Writer regains enough courage to send elsewhere, 37 times.
16 Wait  37 times in a cyclic pattern of despair, courage building resend and wait...
17 rejected 36 times
18 Acceptance letter/email arrives. Writer jumps around the room, knocks over a chair, squeals, flaps hands, squeals more, spouse comes running or older child moved back home comes to find out, writer squeals incoherant ravings about being accepted.
19 the real work begins - writer may receive a small advance on sales at this stage. For a story that took over a decade it equates to less than one cent per day. Contract negotiations, editor suggestions, reworking, adding, subtracting, process of production, printing, proofs, covers, commitment...more waiting, promotion, social media networking and promotion, promotional activities, promotion and marketing, interviews, promotion and marketing,
20 18 months later the book is on a shelf in a book store, writer brings all their friends to look at it sitting there like a painting on display in the Louvre, too shy to tell the bookseller why they are there.
21 12 months later if the book sold significantly the author(now an author because of being published) may receive a royalty check.


-so ten years in which the rent needs to be paid, food on the table, kids fed and educated means that most people cannot afford to write full time and gain an income that will feed them.

You can leave your day job to write full time, you just have to be determined enough.

 I can't afford to.

 I can't afford not to.

I have a mountain of stories in my head that I want to tell and I have run out of decades to put that off.
 The wonder of it all is that I am doing it. I am not listening to all the nay sayers and the 'get a real job' sayers. I am writing every single day, surrounding myself with other people who write, learning about writing and rhyming and reading in every genre I write in. It hasn't paid the rent yet but it will, it hasn't paid a cent yet but it will.

In anything in life, the keys are to make a decision to do it, dedicate time and energy to making it happen and believe in it.

Writing is Wonderful.

I am entering an award competition of a children's picture book. I am quite nervous about it. I may enter two stories and forego groceries this week (I could do with losing a bit of weight).
 It is the KBR Award.

 I am sure there will be some amazing and wonderful writers entering. There are so many delightful picture book writers and illustrators, there is simply not enough time to read them all. The piece I just submitted was written after one of the RhyPiBoMo prompts. I have sent it to my critique group and rewritten it several times then read it to my sounding boards(actual people who listen willingly) and now I have sent it there is no turning back.

Three winners will score $150, a manuscript appraisal, a certificate and the chance to have their manuscript viewed by Sue Whiting, Publishing Manager at Walker Books Australia. There is no guarantee of publication and normal Walker Books manuscript submission rules and timings apply.

We will also nominate several Highly Commended manuscripts (no prize).

All entrants will receive a feedback sheet.

There are simply too many amazing opportunities available to writers around the world for me to even begin to write about them.  I am doing challenges every month and lessons online and sending stories to anthologies and ezines and entering competitions. If you are a would-be writer, reach out to the www and grab every opportunity you can find.

Okay I am off to write more of my novel and see what my protagonist is up to today.  Blogging my book takes a backseat to Wonder but I may return and write some bits here in the blank space below.






Friday, 25 April 2014

Victory vs violence

Today is ANZAC day in Australia. It is a day to recall the fallen in an ill fated skirmish in Gallipoli off the coast of Turkey in 1915 and those who have perished since in various vignettes of violence for political expediency.

here is a link if you want to know the details

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Australians have fought in many wars that other people start or enter. Our soldiers and other military personnel have a reputation of being reliable and brave. I understand the need to defend against the greed or fanaticism that may threaten our way of life and I respect the decision of those who join the military to want to be that front line of defense.

However I am not a fan of war in any form. It disgusts me and I consider it to be the ugliest of human traits.  There is no victory in war. There are dead people and lost people, there are more losses than gains and ongoing pain for decades if not centuries. Our histories are littered with the slain in the name of some political maneuvering or another. Asylum seekers are those very real very current victims of war.
I wish there was some effective way of  resolving disputes without resorting to violence. I wish we as humans could learn to talk and negotiate with our brains and hearts instead of guns and other weapons.

There is a group of students from Warrnambool, from all four of our secondary schools, who traveled to Gallipoli this year.   My hope for them is that they gain perspective and an abhorrence of war. (there are only 30,000 people in Warrnambool and our secondary schools have approximately 3000ish students altogether). There are 13 students in Gallipoli.

Warrnambool students with the VictorianPremier, Consul-General of Turkey, the Mayor of Warrnambool, Chairman of FOGI and the sponsoring Manager of Fairy Chimneys Travel

The ANZAC legend has become entrenched in the Australian psyche and is almost sacred as a symbol of unity, friendship, bravery and heroism.
When an American company bought out Australia's most prestigious biscuit manufacturer about 15 years ago, they foolishly attempted to Americanize the words on the packets. They got away with cookie(an American term) on most packets until they put the word on a packet of ANZAC biscuits. The backlash from the Australian buying public was furious and they quickly removed the word cookie and returned the word biscuit. An ANZAC biscuit is simply a hard oat, butter and syrup  biscuit which was easily transported and sent out to 'the boys' and has become another Australian icon, like vegemite (also now owned by that same American company). That company is now famous for its very bad marketing decision in attempting to shift the entire focus of a country and its eating habits. They tried to market vegemite mixed with cheese, which may have made vegemite more palatable to a squeamish non Australian consumer but it was a monumental failure and is now quoted as such in business courses. Anzac biscuits

Violence is such ugly behaviour. Violence in any situation is unacceptable. This is NOT Sparta, no matter how much young testosterone ridden youth would like to think it is or how much they admired the movie and its ilk. I guess they need an outlet for all that adrenaline so there are sports they can do to let off steam. If they can't afford to join a team they should run. Running is free.

Violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. Less than half of all domestic violence situations in developed countries are ever reported to police and fewer than a single grain of sand in the ocean is ever dealt with effectively with the violent person being assisted to be non violent and the victim of the violence gaining help.

So why are our governments spending billions of dollars on Military might and so little on making our domestic front a safe place to live in?

Cynically, I believe that war makes money for the rich people at the top and no one with any kind of real power in this world gives a damn about the actual safety of women and children or men.
this is the link to the song 'Only 19' by a band called Redgum( released 1983). It always makes me cry. {sorry I am not tech savvy enough to embed it}

I wanted to write about Violets and Violins, Valentines and Vacations(which we call Holidays in Australia). I wanted to explore words like vacuous and vacillate and vaccinations and very vaxocentrism but the ANZAC legend has me vexed and vaporous.

This statue is at the Atatürk Memorial in Australia. It depicts a Turkish soldier carrying an injured ANZAC soldier back to the ANZAC lines during a ceasefire, based on an actual event. Eventually the Turkish people and those of Australia and New Zealand formed a strong and enduring friendship although the Turkish people were defending their homeland and way of life and the ANZACs were foot soldiers in someone else's war.

Sometimes in the ugliest of  situations something beautiful can come from it.  Bravery, creativity, wonder and friendship. So today I will stop and think of all the people who stand up for what they believe in and the wonderful aspects of humanity that sometimes can only be seen in all their glory when juxtaposed against the darkest moments.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ubiquitous Underwear

adjective: ubiquitous
present, appearing, or found everywhere.
"his ubiquitous influence was felt by all the family"
 synonyms:Omnipresent, ever-present, present everywhere, everywhere, all over, all over the place, pervasive, all-pervasive, universal, worldwide, global. 

A good set of undies should never leave the wearer feeling their ubiquitous nature. Good underwear should been so comfortable it makes no impact on the wearers attention. 

That was my deep and meaningful community message for the day. 

More Art. 52 week challenge. Horse of course

The only horse words I could find beginning with U are
No shoes or barefoot
A horse with significant lameness or other health problem
and I have not used one bit of umber in my art.

a rocking horse. We have a rocking horse that has been part of our family landscape for decades. I went to have it refurbished but the person who does such mending wanted to charge me more to refurbish than to purchase a new one. 
 The year of the horse in Chinese zodiac is often symbolized by horse ornaments like this one.

this is a horses eye. I am not sure I managed the reflection across the pupil as well as I would like but it is not bad for a first try.
RhyPiBoMo. the lesson for today is not yet up so nothing here apart from my usual reading and playing with poetry. I may come back and add it in later this evening.
Blogging my book has to wait a few hours too so I will be back.

The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley

The First Ever Pretty-Much-World-Famous Illustration Contest!!!

The ContestDraw/Paint a children's picture book cover illustration (no text required - art only)Illustrations should be 8x10, horizontal or vertical, any medium, posted in jpg at least 72 px, for  the following story (which is one of the top finishers in the March Madness Fractured Fairy Tale Writing Contest)

 - The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley

(All stories can be read on the March Madness Finalist Post )
Judging:  entries will be judged by multi-talented, award-winning author/illustrators Iza Trapani, author and illustrator of over 20 gorgeous picture books, and Lisa Thiesing, author and illustrator of at least 16 beautiful and fun picture books and early readers!   Judging criteria to include:

 - is the picture readable to a young audience,
 - how well does it show the character(s) and
 - is the character(s) appealing (character development),
 - does it make you want to read the story,
 - originality
 - skill.

They will narrow down the entrants to 6 finalists  which will be posted  on Thursday May 1 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on Sunday May 4 and the winner will be announced on Monday May 5. 
 The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff by Wendy Greenley


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

T for Tidy

Tidy is something I am not.Today I decided to spend Time doing art.
I had not been doing as much art as I prefer with all the things I signed up for this month and I missed it so today was arty.

As I mentioned yesterday, this weeks theme in the 52 week challenge is HORSE so here for your viewing pleasure are the first batch of my horses.

 an old fashioned horse of the sea, copic and pencil
 a chibi horse also copic marker(before I have to return them) and pencil
 Horse love, which apparently many young girls go through. It bypassed me somehow but my sisters loved them. I like the sound of a herd of them galloping. Pencil only.
 This was my first one and stupidly I didn't check where it was when I started the next one on top of it so the purple came through the paper. I like it and might do a repeat attempt. Copic pen and Faber-Castell pencil.
 I really liked the look of this horse. The stark contrast in the colour patches are very eye catching. Copic and pencil
 Here is the purple culprit. I was trying a stylised horse with copic lines and pencil for the shading.
and a little seahorse. Also Copic marker and F-C pencils.

I have a few more in progress and I did some art for a competition which I will upload tomorrow.

The RhyPiBoMo lesson for today was about revision. All the dos and don'ts of writing rhyme for picture books. I think that I will be able to write effective rhyme given some practice and appropriate feedback.

Speaking of feedback. I had a critique on a new piece come back and it was full of praise and good suggestions for polishing it up so I think I may have a second Picture book manuscript this month. Now to find where to send them both.

blogging this book has become an interesting challenge. I seem to spend more time blogging and researching and discussing than getting words on the page but it is progressing albeit slowly.

My MC did a woodwork course(foreshadowed in opening pages) and is going to do some minor adaptations to the cottage, including building a toilet because she simply cannot bear the thought[and action] of using the midden pile.

A new problem is about to arise. Her predecessors were able to sell cheese and other produce at the village market in the past but the new food safety laws may prevent her doing this and she is going to have a glut of cheese filling every nook and cranny in her cellar. How will she work that one out? I am suspecting some odd callers wandering through her little valley who will barter.

I have two flash fictions in process I need to finish tonight so I will get off the internet and go write.

Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sumptuous, sublime, submission, sing

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye
four and twenty black birds baked in a pie
when the pie was opened the birds began to sing
and wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king and so on and so forth for verse after verse...

Have you ever taken the time to wonder where these nursery rhymes come from, what their history is? I love doing that and finding the verses that were not taught to children over the past decades. I love nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes lead me to picture books which lead me to chapter books and on up the ladder to novels. They are the beginning of a child's love for language and music. Without the humble nursery rhyme a child may very well miss an essential step toward truly enjoying the language of their tongue.

RhyPiBoMo Lesson 24 was all about SUBMISSIONS. I belong to a group called Sub6 which is a support group for encouraging each other to submit to agents and editors, publishing companies, competitions, magazines, ezines or just anywhere that will accept our writing. We have monthly checklists and there is a little prize now and then for the most energetic or active of us. It is a great way for me to keep track of what I am submitting. Over the past month I have submitted stories for rating, six short stories to anthologies and a query letter to an agent. I am hoping to increase the number of submissions I make as the year goes on.  I haven't finished that sonnet or the  strange little poem I was attempting yesterday but I will share some when they are done. I did write a flash fiction for the 38 week challenge Week 7: Mushroom.

Mushrooms for soup                          
“There aren’t enough mushrooms.” She hissed, “Why do you always spring unexpected dinners on me like this?” Her knife stabbed savagely at the fungi on the board. A few small pieces flew in quick graceful arcs onto the floor. “Not enough to waste on the floor. You!” she pointed the large blade at her cowering husband, “Go to the top of the cow paddock and pick all the mushrooms you can find and be quick. If you expect guests who need to be impressed you can help feed them. Stupid man!” She muttered the last through gritted teeth to the pot she slammed on the hob. The back door slammed in unison. “I was looking forward to a nice feed of mushrooms.” She sniffed and stirred the dark flesh into the melted butter. “Now there won’t be enough for more than a taste. I am just a big grump when I have to share my mushrooms.” She continued to stir and taste. The mushrooms had darkened and she leaned over the pot to breathe in the earthy aroma. It soothed her and she scooped up a spoonful. “Oh I don’t think I will share this.” She ate more until the small pot was empty. 
“Oh dear.”
Hubby tumbled through the door holding out a shirt filled with mushrooms. The woman began to swiftly peel and chop. “Did these all come from the top of the paddock?” He nodded and picked at one of the mushrooms.
“This one doesn’t look right?
“No time to worry about that now is there? You want to dazzle your boss and I am just supposed to magic up some impressive dinner like pulling rabbits out of a hat. Is that the door? Brush yourself off and go see to it.”  He scurried out of the kitchen tucking his shirt tails in.
She ladled the thick dark soup into her best tureen, sprinkled it with chopped chives and parsley and a drizzle of sour cream.
The guests all exclaimed at the lovely aroma as she set it in front of them.
 “Please excuse me not sitting for the entrée, I could not take another spoonful. I was too tempted when I made it, you enjoy while I check on the roast.” The neatly suited boss and his equally trim wife frowned slightly but plastered thin smiles on their faces as she retreated to the kitchen leaving hubby to serve.
She returned with the plates of the main course. The soup tureen was completely empty.  “That, my dear was the best mushroom soup we have ever tasted.” The boss was smiling. His wife had a genuine look of pleasure on her face. Hubby was unusually relaxed.
 She glowed at the compliments and felt her own tension ease.
“My wife is magic in the kitchen.” He smiled lopsidedly at her and tried to pat her shoulder but missed; three times.
“Magic” The boss’ wife giggled.
“MMmushroom.” The boss contemplated the word in his mouth.
“Oh dear?”
word count 498

I haven't submitted to midweek blues buster for a few weeks because the song prompts have been a bit depressing or I have been in the wrong head space for the song prompts, whichever it is I have been to read but not to write.

An interesting debate has popped up now and then in the year since I began being a professional writer and the question is, what is the difference between a writer and an author? I read and read and read some more and came up with my own little piece to explain it.

You begin as a writer.
 To be an author, the idea of your writing must be your own and you must get your work published.(eg novel, autobiography, picture book)
  If you are a writer, you can write about other people’s thoughts and ideas and have them published but remain a writer.(eg biography, article, essay, text book)
 You become an author when your books are published, but if your writings are never published, you remain a writer even if the idea is purely your own.

So I am both a writer and an author. I authored many pieces of short and flash fiction over the past year which have been published. 

S seems like a good place for that sonnet, let me go finish it and I will be right back.

The English sonnet is the easiest in terms of its rhyme scheme. It only requires pairs of rhyming words rather than groups of 4, and it is the most flexible in terms of the placement of the volta.
Line one to 8 are about the problem
9 is the volta (turning point) with 9 to 14 being the solution to the problem.
Have we got it? Nope? Me either but I am going to give it a go…

The thimble

At edge of sight a tiny flash then none,
A thimble left upon a chair is where?
The key sure left hung on its hook is gone.
A silken scarf has vanished in thin air.

A Skitter and scuff, gone the leaves of tea.
Are these tiny foot prints in the dust here,
        A trail of scattered crumbs a treat should be?
Fallen on the floor a silver spoon there.

Is this thief I cannot see, a fairy?
Is it, some being, small and spry, nearby?
Treasures to some bower light and airy
The wicked little burglar does fly.
             If to the meadow brightly lit go down
    should see the thimble as the May Queen’s crown?


Novel construction continues. My MC has managed with the assistance of this strange new fellow in her space to milk a cow. She also worked out how to use flint. She is making a list of things she wants to bring back when next she goes shopping. Intending to bring some modern progress into the place. This could upset some local denizens and cause her more grief than she might be able to cope with. Will she realize there are 'others' who are testing her resolve or seeing if she is 'worthy' of being there? 

Tomorrow the 52 week challenge theme is Horses. I have begun a few pictures and will share them here when I am done. Oh and I am almost done with my illustration for the competition on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog for illustrators.