Sunday, 30 November 2014

strong hints of summer

The red in the thermometer is rising steadily and all the blinds are down on every window in an attempt to keep the house cool and dark. It is working in a limited fashion. I am not prone on the bathroom floor seeking solace from cold tiles so the temperature has not reached unbearable yet. Early days. we are due for a sudden cold snap which usually occurs late November early December and sprinkles the mountain tops with a dusting of snow for a nano moment before the blast of summer sun makes us doubt our sanity.

I am in Melbourne this week for my niece's 21st masquerade birthday.

and here is my lovely niece. There were a number of my lovely nieces at the party but this one was the belle of the ball.
The guests all made an effort to wear masks and it was fascinating to see the individuality of their choices only two of the guests chose the same mask and they are closely related but had not seen each other prior to the party so had no idea that the other had purchased the same one. If they had purchased mass produced cheap store masks I would expect a possible double up but these were very elaborate and expensive ones. Interesting coincidence.

I found my own perceptions being changed by the mask I wore. It felt as though the mask provided a barrier between me and those around me. It enabled me to feel more confident in my interactions with strangers and I began to think about superman. Odd thing to think about except I never could figure out why the people in Superman's version of Earth could not recognise that he was Clark Kent, nor how people are unable to recognise any masked super personage from their daily ordinariness. That was until I had my hair and make up done professionally and went into work and people did not instantly recognise me. I didn't feel like I was any different but other people's perceptions had somehow shifted.
I am sure there are many good studies about the affect and effects of wearing masks, including all the invisible masks we wear for different places in our lives but this was a night of my own light bulb moments with a dash of metacognition. The whole thinking about thinking thing is a favourite pass time of mine.

I am going swimming with my sister so I will be this space...I am so glad you were watching because I had an asthma attack in the water and I was, quite frankly, terrified. I managed one lap and was on my way back and lost it. Luckily my sister was watching me and helped me to the edge and then the pool guard ran over with an inhaler.
Once I was breathing again and the young man, Will,  had filled in an incident report I was back in the pool doing gentle water aerobics. No laps. This has really pushed the message that I need to loose this excess weight and get fit. I had my bronze medallion in swimming when I was half the woman I am today. I miss the water.
As I was attempting to gasp to my sister that "I can't breathe" my inner editor said "don't be ridiculous of course you can breathe, you simply cannot breath out, or in for that matter." Some days I wish my inner editor would shut up and have a bit of sympathy.
I walked away thinking I wish I had been more sympathetic to my son when he was in that state rather than doing the tough jolly along thing but then that was my way of coping with him turning blue and gasping for air. My sister was cracking jokes that I just needed attention, which was her way of coping with the look of terror on my face. Thankfully young Will remained calm and professional which is what we both needed and his team mates came over to check on us too. I had a spa and we went back to her house in 34o heat to sit around doing nothing. My shoulders are very sore though.

So art. Week 48 of the challenge is Fox and here are my little scribbles.
 This is my little arctic fox. I have been exploring art classes online which I have mentioned before now, there are so many wonderful people sharing their skills online I could learn practically anything I want to but recently it has been art. I am trying to learn how to use ink markers properly and to adopt the manga style/ graphic novel type of art. This little fellow is my best shading yet. I did him after the red foxes.
 The last fox I drew is this Fennec fox. He is quite cute and more lifelike than the other four.
 My grey fox was inspired by foxes on DeviantART which has hundreds of tutorials on how to do the outlines to how to shade. My shading is a little clumpy on this fellow but it is improving. Practice makes perfect so they say.
 This little red fox is an adaptation of yet another tutorial on deviantART. I like the  fur look I managed with small marker lines and two tones for his fur.
finally here is my first fox for the week. He is a lot more two tone than shaded but it is effective none the less. I loved the way his eyes turned out. This was from an online tutorial on how to draw foxes for kids. I will put in links when I find them again.

I always try to put in my own unique style and characteristics when I do the tutorials so mine are never quite the same as that demonstrated but I would like to acknowledge the generosity and skill of the original creative.

So more good news. I received a 2 for another story sent to Rate Your Story. Rate your story is a service provided by professionals in the literary world who volunteer their time to give initial feedback to new and emerging writers. YOUR STORY

This is the third story with RYS that has received a 2 on the scale. Now to polish them up and send them out and keep trying for a 1.

I had some beautiful feedback from some young mums to whom I sent some of my stories and they loved one in particular which they read to their little girls. I need to spend some time researching my target recipients before i send out any more manuscripts.

NaNoWriMo went my in a whirl and I managed in the first week to put 19000 words or so on paper. By the end of the month - today that is- I had managed around27k which is not bad all things considered. I did keep up my sketching for SkaDaMo and the 52 week challenge and i have written my 12 x 12 monthly draft and revised with ReVi-mini and I found quite a few ideas which I have jotted down for PiBoIdMo. Not quite the gargantuan effort of last November but still quite good. I have plenty of ideas to turn into full stories now.I must pop in to the RWA forum 50/30 and cheer them all to the finish line with their novel outlines and tell them I will be back for the next round.

I revised a story for the SuperHERo anthology 2014 which will be out soon and all proceeds go to 'because I'm a girl' charity. this is a follow up anthology to the 2013 SuperHERo anthology. I had quite forgotten what this story was all about and when I revisited it I saw quite a few mistakes I had overlooked so thankfully I had time to correct them and reacquaint myself with the story. This happens too often when I write a short story, I send it out then promptly forget it so I can move on to the next one.

 I have two other anthologies coming out soon. One is a fractured fairy tale which I will post a separate blog for and one is a collection of stories loosely woven together with a tale to link them. titled Charms. Like with Keepsakes last year, the writers chose a bracelet charm to write a story about or incorporate in a story.  I contributed that story at the beginning of the year. Nothing happens quickly in the world of words. Then there are two more coming out in early 2015. I said six months ago I would not write for any more anthologies and I haven't but it all takes time.

So if you are in warmer climates. Keep watch over your loved ones in the water and don't forget sunscreen, hat, shirt and shade. If you are in the colder north. Keep warm at the extremities.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Glorious sunny day

avcg logo news

Today is beautiful. I am not going to spend much time at the keyboard because I want to go back outside. I haven't felt that keen to be outside in a long time. I have to be careful and wear a hat since the surgeries, in fact I should always wear a hat and would not have needed surgeries if I had been in the habit. Australia did itself a disservice when hats went out of fashion. Primary schools(elementary) have a sun safe hat policy across the country but the moment most of the children reach their teens, hats become anathema. Maybe some celebrity needs to be pro hat and make it part of their beauty routine for it to catch on again.

I spent the morning wandering through two magnificent gardens. It was an open garden fundraiser for the Warrnambool Coast Guard. I was perfectly content to wander the dappled shade and watch the sunlight dance across the water.
 The flowers were in full bloom. The first house has an orchard and a long lawn with a hedge leading down to the jetty, vibrant garden beds around the house and plenty of shady well established trees. This gentleman has also built palaces for his chooks and aviary. The fronts of both are gable roofed cabins with the wired in fly zone behind the cabins. A lovely timber and galvanised iron fence creates a semi circle separating the bird palaces from the lawn. This is a garden worth seeing just for the work that has been put into making it an interesting place to visit. I suspect the grandchildren love it.
 Both properties have the Merri river running behind them and the owners make good use of this with their own little boat sheds and jetties.
A man made dam in one property had remote control miniature boats on display.
 The boat display showed a high level of skill from the boat builders and enthusiasts.
 This is the view from the verandah behind the first house. The garden rolls gently down to the river directly ahead and is quite extensive with the bird palaces and shetland pony paddocks to the left and large shady trees lining the border between properties to the right.
 The second property had a stand of silver birch. I am not a big fan of having non indegenous species in a garden but I must admit I do love silver birch.
 Both garden owners had provided plenty of shaded seating to relax and listen to the abundance of bird life and watch the river lazily rolling by.

I include pictures of ponies for the 'awww' factor that I am sure my daughter darling will say. 

Behind this jetty and just to the left of where I was sitting under a shady tree is a small boat house that is decked out to be very livable. The owner said that he and his wife have often slept in the boat house on very hot nights to take advantage of the cool breeze across the water.  How delightful. These are the kind of gardens I dream of. Plenty of smooth soft lawn, big shady trees and cool bubbling water flowing nearby.

I am so grateful to have the privilege of wandering through these little bits of paradise and for such a good cause.

Writing and art.

Nanowrimo started off well with 19000 words in the first week. Piboidmo had an idea for every day and skadamo was skidding ink and pencil across paper. Week two I had my little grandson so not one word was written as ti is difficult I discovered to juggle a baby, a bottle, a nappy(diaper) and all the rest of the household and type as well. Week two slid by with all sorts of other things going on the highlight of which was attending the  Regional Design Awards night

I attended the evening with my friend Wendy Coyle, a fellow writer who had entered the design awards with her 'app'. She was not a finalist but she entered and that is the biggest step and she had some awesome competition for the awards. The venue was terrific for such an event although i would have preferred a seat to standing for almost two hours. The crowd was made up of trendy designers and would be designers, sponsors, organisers and me.

It was at: The Artery, 224 Timor Street, Warrnambool
When: 7pm Friday 21 November 2014
I was able to meet the guest speakers  who were

Kane Hibberd (aka Kanye Lens)

With over a decade of experience working within the music industry in various roles, Kane Hibberd is well educated in music. He created "The Art Of Capture" which has quickly gained the attention of the international music community. In 2010 he was recognised as one of the leading rock photographers in the world by British music magazine NME. Hibberd was announced as the second place-getter in the rock bible’s first annual Music Photography Awards.
With his focus set on producing captivating, inventive and emotive images as well as capturing those one-off rock’n’roll moments, Hibberd regularly shoots commissioned work for music publications such as Rolling Stone, Metal Hammer, Blunt, Rocksound, Alternative Press, and The music – his work has often graced the covers of many of these publications. His busy schedule has led Hibberd to work with a diverse array of top international and Australian artists such as, Cut Copy, The Living End, Paramore, Hilltop Hoods, Birds Of Tokyo, The Temper Trap, Gotye, 360 and Them Crooked Vultures. His services are in demand around the country with clients that include EMI/ Universal Music, Warner Music, Eleven, Mushroom Group, UNFD, Sony, Street Press Australia, Next Media and Future Media.
Hibberd is the official tour photographer for Soundwave Festival, Harvest Festival, Stagemothers Aussie BBQ SXSW, Pyramid Rock Festival and the Melbourne leg of Laneway Festival.
2013 saw Kane independently publish his first book under his alter ego, Kanye Lens. A nickname given to him on tour many moons ago. Kanye Lens Vs Soundwave Volume 1 is a 454 page hard cover coffee table style photography book presenting an in depth look at his work with Australia’s Soundwave Music Festival.
2013 also saw Kane speak at the annual AgIdeas conference, Big Sound Music & Design as well as being selected as a finalist in the Moran contemporary photographic price.
To view an online portfolio:

Mark Haynes

Mark worked at various ad agencies and studios before establishing Haynes Design in 1989. Mark is passionate about community, education and generating social change by sharing his 30 years of skills and knowledge gained through the design process, problem solving, innovation and design thinking.
Mark is the co founder and chair of Cultivator Inc, a community focused non-profit organisation established 2010. Cultivator is a dynamic annual event that brings together inspirational guest speakers from varied backgrounds both nationally and internationally, encouraging design thinking and problem solving to create better communities.
In 2012 Mark assisted the establishment of the first regional branch of the Australian Graphic Design Association. As the chair he provides leadership and governance to the local design industry.

 Then the awards were presented.  Finger food circulated and glasses clinked quietly. Someone had the good sense to turn down the ambient music so we could actually hear the speakers and I found a nice wide window ledge to lean against. it was too high for me to actually sit on but it did provide a nice ledge for me to sit my glass of juice and rest my back.  I was fascinated by the various designs for the different categories and I recommend you take a look at the website. There are some very clever people in the world and I am always on the lookout for ideas for my own art. Ohh and there was a particular finger food which involved Yorkshire pudding, slivers of roast beef, caramelised onion relish and hollandaise sauce. It was scrumdiddlyumtious and I have purchased some dripping to make the Yorkshire puddings. Louis is you read this we need a cook off.

So art I have done over the past non writing time has mostly been for the 52 week challenge. We had the theme New York and since the only things I know about New York come from movies, TV and magazines I managed to make a montage of images that capture what I don't know.

New York comes across as busy, brash, egocentric, aggressive, loud, crowded and interesting. I would like to visit it at least once in my life. I have had several young friends visit and fall in love with the place so it certainly must have something going for it.

A young friend and her mother decided to make a memory quilt for her son's first birthday. She asked all the guests to create a calico panel with wishes and thoughts for her son to be made up into a quilt.
(here are a few links on how to melt crayons to use in various projects but there are hundreds...  )  and here are the images my family made.

friendship begins in amazing places and this is the square from one small boy to another.
 something cute and circus from 'da  nerdy boyz'
Pop culture references which my daughter darling filled her calico square with.

I love making art for specific people especially birthday cards.

I am also doing sketches every day for SkaDaMo so my folders are filling up with art. I love doing any little tutorial I can fit into my day so I am learning a lot of things from generous artists around the world who youtube their skills and my thanks go out to them but now for words and words and more words.

Next week I intend making my 50k word count which will require huge word counts daily so I managed to get ahead with my art. The theme for next week is Fox. Life is always busy and it pays to get ahead and be organised so I will just go clean the bathroom... kidding.

Happy birthday to my favourite twin girls. Paula and Adele. I enjoyed myself at both of your parties and I am so happy to be part of celebrating your coming of age.

and congratulations Dana and Joel, may your future together be filled with love and joy and plenty of adventures.

A special thought came through one of the many speeches I have heard this week. Celebrate the small successes. Take time to be in the moment and simply enjoy each one before moving on. I need to do that.

May you have a wonder filled time until next we meet. <3 Love and hugs.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saturday and the house is quiet.

My first week of November challenges went really well. I had 12,ooo words written for my NaNoWriMo thriller/futuristic novel and 7,500 of the second novel, a paranormal fiction with romantic elements for RWA 50/30. I had an idea a day for PiBoIdMo and a few spare and I was sketching something every day for SkaDaMo and the flow on from Inktober31 and I was also keeping up with my 52 week challenge art pieces. A fantastic first week of November. I even had the dishes done. Wonder Woman would barely keep up.

insert some dramatic music here....

Then came week two and guess what. My 4 month old grandson came to visit without his parents. I forgot how often babies cry and how little they sleep. I know a four month old sleeps sixteen to twenty hours a day, it says so in the user manual. What it failed to mention is that they do so in twenty second bursts and want to be fed, changed, cuddled and put down for their next twenty seconds. I am seventeen years out of practice at babies. My giant 29 year old actually deigned to entertain the baby on one occasion if you can imagine a six foot four -and-a-bit, pale as a ghost games programmer with sandy red hair and bushy mutton chops, dangling a rattling toy a metre above the baby's head as the baby wriggled and kicked on the bed gooing and gurgling and thoroughly mesmerised by the giant at the edge of his focus ability. My daughter(teenage angsty girl), who has had virtually no experience with babies was curled in a foetal position weeping because I had left her with the baby for seventeen seconds longer than I promised. The other lad, also six foot fourish and also without baby experience looked like I had handed him an unpinned grenade when I plopped the baby in his arms. It has been a very interesting week. I adored having the little one with me but I surely missed sleep while he was here. He is the cutest, sweetest little person with a happy disposition and a delightful chuckle. His smile melts hearts. I shall miss him now that his Mumma has collected him though I am going to reacquaint myself with sleep.

Of course, during his visit my writing counts dropped to zilch, nada, nix, none, zip, not any, naught, nothing what so ever. Next week I will have to do double time to catch up. That equals around 7,000 words a day for a week if I wish to get back on target. Wish me luck.

I did manage to squeeze some art into the twenty second windows of opportunity so I shall share that.

 I tried out my new ink markers on this piece.
I have been making art daily for over a year now and I can see the growth in my work. I have said this before but I am finally seeing the benefits of constant practice. This is for week 46 of the 52 week challenge. The theme this week is Circus.
 My young friend Laura gifted me with a box of metallic pencils and I felt that they would be perfect for this week's theme. The card is only A6(about the size of a post card) so these pieces are quite small. I was delighted with the affect the metallic pencils have on the black background.
This was my favourite of the three pieces in metallic pencil. I love the bronze and silver and the lines of the body. I looked at a lot of images of circus performers to get a feel for the eventual picture I had in mind and made preliminary pencil sketches in grey on white paper. I am in awe of the health and beauty of performers who can do the most amazing things with their bodies.

My Little Circus
woman on balance pole
So did I do more art than that? Yes I did. I decorated several calico panels for a memory quilt for a one year old and I did many quick sketches of circus things and animals, leaves and fairies and things a child might like. I am putting most of them on my Pinterest page which can be reached via my gallery button on the right. 

I attended a book launch on Monday evening. This was for the Warrnambool Writers Group anthology. This was my final anthology as I made myself a promise I would not longer contribute to anthologies. (This was also the occasion in which I asked my daughter to mind the baby.) The anthology is filled with delightful stories and is of a high standard. I am quite pleased that my last anthology is filled with good quality writing. The title 'Flotsam and Jetsam" was the suggestion I anonymously tendered for the group to vote on. It was one of several suggestions and I am quite pleased that mine was selected. The working title was 'mixed grill' which did not suit the eventual maritime and semi historical theme of the collection. 

The nicest thing about this anthology is that I received a free copy. No other anthology of the thirty I have contributed to has given me a free  hard copy. I have two PDF versions. Unfortunately I do not own copies of several anthologies simply because I have not been able to afford to purchase them. I did win a three volume set in a writing competition which was wonderful. The costliest part is the postage from outside Australia. It is usually much more than the price of the actual book. Several anthologies I have contributed to are ranking quite high in their categories even months after release so I am supposing that they are selling. With some anthologies the expectation is that the contributors purchase dozens or hundreds of copies at a reduced price and then sell them on to friends and families and their local book store on commission. I am happy if I can purchase one for my own shelf. I am not keen on the idea of self publishing simply because I don't have the energy of a nuclear power plant to be able to do all the business side of publishing by myself. The people I am seeing succeed in self publishing are dynamos and power houses and I am sleep deprived enough as it is. So no more anthologies. 
Which reminds me, I should pop over to my Goodreads author shelf and add two more books. One as a contributing author and one as a contributing illustrator.

Keep warm, keep well, keep reading.

self publish vs traditional - a question to ponder

Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing: Which Should You Choose?

Courtesy of: The Write Life

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

What a wonderful week

Today is Wednesday 5th of November 2014

So many things have happened. I received a number 2 rating from RYS.
This is so exciting. It means that the person rating my story thinks it is not far off being polished enough to send to an editor along with a synopsis and an awesome pitch to interest them in publishing. Did you realise no one is ever an overnight success in this industry? No really, never. One writer friend shared her excitement about signing with an agent who had found an interested publisher who signed her on as well and the book, which is already written is scheduled for a 2017 release. It takes a lifetime of hard work to become an overnight success.

Then I had not one but two phone calls from fabulous writers asking me for art. I said yes to both and now I am buzzing with excitement over that.

Then of course November started with all the challenges I signed up for so I am creating art all over the place. Which is odd because I thought my words would take off before my art did and it has not occurred in that order. 

Inktober finished but the participants don't stop drawing and I purchased myself some Fabre-Castell PITT pens and have been playing around with technique and colour. So I shall share them here with you. I am so excited by how far my art skills have come since I began creating every day from November last year because of Linda Sylvestri's SkaDaMo. Give yourself a visual treat and take a look at her gallery. She makes some purely delightful art.

 I am not so good at landscapes but it was fun playing around with the new colours and trying to get a feel for the Australian scenery.
 I wanted to play with shade and my little pale grey marker did a fine job. It will be interesting to compare my art in a year with now and a year ago. I can see changes and depth of skill I didn't have 12 months ago and realise that a little bit every day really is a worthwhile enterprise.
 This is my rendition of a fabulous mask my sister has on her wall.
 The last day of Inktober was on the theme of halloween so I felt a little zombie girl was appropriate.
 This was my first piece using my new Pitt pens, a line for each marker and a little bit of manga style to try out the shading.

Oh for a big deep claw foot bath and plenty of bubbles. I could so go there.

I managed to have time to meet my new little next door neighbour, a gorgeous little boy who looks just like his big sister and brother.
I have an invitation to a 1st birthday, an 18th, a 21st and an engagement this month. That should keep me very busy.
I managed to get myself a speeding fine for doing 54km in a 50k zone. Oh my goodness was I upset when i opened that envelope and I also managed to somehow overlook paying my roadside assistance so I will not be driving far until that is rectified.
This week I absolutely must go visit my grand-baby-boys before I blink and they turn 21.

Voting is on for the Halooweensie Stories on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog, so have a treat and read the finalists, vote for your favourite then read the others too. Mine did not make it to the finals as it was such a high quality competition and the entries were fabulous and mine needed a teensy bit more polish. I am going to keep working on it for next year.
Vote for the Halooweensie stories 

I stopped writing for anthologies a few months ago. It was a decision based on wanting to concentrate on writing for publication under my own name. Quite a few of the anthologies are still in the edit phase and will be launched later in the year. I have signed a few contracts and had some edits sent back for my perusal and one of the interesting things I discovered is the vast disparity in the way words are spelled in different English. American English and British English have some awkward differences which make editing problematic for international writers. I discovered much to my amazement that Americans do not put the word 'and' in complex numbers in either written or spoken form. My American editor assumed it was not grammatically correct and removed my 'ands'. We had an interesting too and fro and finally decided to indicate that my story was in UK English. Yet I am Australian and I know that we use many idioms that are uniquely Australian and my English is probably quite different to that used in England. I love the English language and I am just as intrigued by the varieties of English as I am by the variety in English. I don't love it like a crazed linguistic gymnast but I do love it for its flexibility and I have been known to be a bit of a Grammar Nazi at times. I am a lot more relaxed these days than I once was.

I had a good friend in senior high school. He and I would play verbal word sparring for the sheer joy of it. We would look up and learn obscure words and hold entire conversations in language incomprehensible to our fellow students but it was all English. I miss that kind of Tom foolery and word smithing. One day we both vowed that for that day only we would stick to speaking only common vernacular and our day was boring and blighted. I wonder whatever happened to him?

I best make myself ready for Rostrum. I have a good speech planned on PTSD. Should be interesting.

Have a lovely day, night, evening, morning, where ever and when ever you are. HUGS