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Archive for November, 2013

Day of the Doctor

Day of the Doctor

I’ve just come back after watching the Dr Who 50th anniversary special – Day of the Doctor – at my mum and dad’s house and I know I’m going to have to watch it again. Not just because I enjoyed it – because I did – but because what with the kids running around and making noise and deciding 7.30pm was the perfect time to fight (after having been fairly well behaved all day) and then demanding drinks and fighting over what movie they would watch because they suddenly decided they weren’t watching Dr Who, I missed quite a bit of it.

Thankfully, I taped it. So, now my house is quiet, I am going to sit down and watch it again and get back to you later on this week to talk about it. I do know from what I did manage to catch, that I just loved the combination of David Tennant’s Doctor and Matt Smith’s Doctor on the screen, not to mention all the little nods to past doctors and the little Tom Baker cameo at the end (who could ever forget that voice?)

I also loved Bad Wolf Rose and the little glimpse of the new doctor was lovely too – although the thought of Matt not being my Doctor any more is as upsetting as when David was no longer the doctor (which just reminds me of how I felt when Tom Baker was no longer the doctor either.)

Anyway, time to fully imerse myself in the Doctor Who mythology and enjoy the using of that mythology to re-write the mythology – pretty clever, I have to say.

Yay Doctor Who!

I’ve been remiss in my blogging over the last week. I had a 2 day migraine at the start of last week that I took about 4 days to recover from and I’m still having migraine hangover headaches and achy muscles. But I’m not asking for sympathy or trying to make further excuses for not blogging this week (I think migraine gives me a hall pass for last week).

I am not blogging tonight, (except for this) and probably won’t blog anything of significance until next week because I am having a Dr Who fest over the next few nights to rev me up and prepare for the big 50th Anniversary movie. I’m watching the last 2 seasons in the next few days.

I always thought my favourite Dr Who was Tom Baker, but then along came David Tennant and I truly fell in love with him – he wasn’t just insanely smart, witty, quippy, zaney, fun to be around (not to mention a little dangerous to be around) he was sexy and a bit dark too. I cried when he left our screens, but then Matt Smith was a revelation too. Not quite as sexy, but certainly everything else with a boyish charm that you fell in love with too.

Now there’s a new Dr and I can’t wait to discover who he is going to be. Personally, from what I’ve seen of Peter Capaldi as an actor, I think he’ll bring something exciting to the mix – and I trust Russell Davies with my Dr. But, more exciting than that is the 50th Anniversary movie, The Day of the Doctor. It brings two of my three favouite Dr’s together (not to mention Rose is back!) I have little shivers of excited anticipation every time I think of it. And I’m so enjoying season 6. Can’t wait to see season 7. And I definitely can’t wait for the movie. I’ve been #SaveTheDay – ing recently like crazy. Have you?

If not, here’s just a little something to whet your appatite for what’s to come. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hRy2N2CMhQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z6FMCqYrBo Enjoy!

I’ve had a really unusual weekend for me this weekend – I’ve actually been out for dinner on Friday and out for lunch today and neither of them were with family or for a family thing.

I was out with friends.

It’s not that I don’t get out, but it’s not something that happens a lot and for it to happen twice in one weekend and not be a family thing is really quite amazing.

Friday night I caught up with some old school friends. It has been 25 years since we were at school together and we have made an effort to keep in contact and catch up at least 3 or 4 times a year. Sometimes we’ve gone to see a movie, sometimes out for dinner, sometimes for a party, but it is always fun and amazes me how easily we slip back into that knowledge of each other. We all do such different things and lead very different lives, and yet we have that thing in common (all those years at school together) that help us to relate on a level that means it doesn’t matter how long it is between seeing each other, it will always be comfortable and fun. Shia and Marianne had both been to America on completely different kinds of trips, so much of the chat centred around their trips, but we all talked work, hobbies, kids, family, movies, books… managing to get through an amazing amount in four hours as we always do and we didn’t even cover everything.

One thing is certain when old friends get together – there is no end to the chat.

The Melbourne based Destineers - (back row from left, Madeline Ash, Sasha Cottman, Mary Costello, Edwina Jagleman, Emmie Dark, Sarah Fairhall, front row from left, Carol George, Louise Reynolds and me - missing from photo Elise K Ackers and Nicole Hadow.)

The Melbourne based Destineers – (back row from left, Madeline Ash, Sasha Cottman, Mary Costello, Edwina Jagleman, Emmie Dark, Sarah Fairhall, front row from left, Carol George, Louise Reynolds and me – missing from photo Elise K Ackers and Nicole Hadow.)

Today I was out with a group of new friends (the Destineers – fellow writers published by Penguin’s Destiny Romance) and while the dynamic is completely different from when you’re with old friends, it was still stimulating and fun and I had a really lovely time and was sad when we all had to wrap up and get back to our lives.

The fun thing about making new friends when you’re older (once you get past the terror of wondering if you’ll fit in and if you’ll have anything in common and will anyone like you – no, none of this changes from how it was at school as you get older, I think you just get better at covering up the insanity that is social uncertainty!) is that you’ve got all this stuff to learn about each other and there are endless topics of discussion and the discovery of people’s interests and the things that you’ve got in common and what you don’t have in common but are fascinating anyway.

With the Destineers there is of course the bond of us all being authors and trying to figure out how to be a writer in the ever shifting sand that is publication today, and an outsider would imagine that this is pretty much all we talk about – but they would be wrong. We all write different genres – contemporary, rural, novellas, paranormal, historical, chic lit, erotica, suspense – so while there are things we can talk about, I’m not about to yammer on about my Witch and Were characters to someone who doesn’t read or write paranormal, just like I wouldn’t do that to my old schoolfriends. And they don’t yammer on to me about what they’re writing – it’s not that it wouldn’t necessarily be interesting, but we discuss writing issues with each other in our FB group. We don’t need to do that face to face.

So, what do a group of published writers stand around talking about if not 100% about writing? Well, just like my old schoolfriends, we’re a group of women, and the idea of sticking to one topic is just impossible. We covered travel, food, moving, families, camping, sports, Scrivener, sex and erotica (not to mention the unfortunate use of goldfish – something none of us are going to be able to forget without having a horrified laugh) books, movies, TV shows, favourite YouTube clips (I have to look up Luke Ball dancing on YouTube according to Mary and Carol – apparently pretty sexy), social media, holidays and more that I can’t even remember now. Nobody really talked about their WIP’s or about the book they’ve got coming out, but we did talk a little about the industry and how changeable and volatile it is at the moment, but how exciting that makes it too.

Everyone bought something to eat and drink, so we had a really yummy nosh and some good wine (I’m still full) and I feel completely relaxed (even though my boys are running around yelling and doing a great impression of wild beasts) because I had a lovely catch up and time out not once but twice this weekend.

I think I need to do this more often. 🙂

 

I’ve just read this great post on Kristen Lamb’s blog about prioritising. She uses a great a great analogy about reaping and sowing that I won’t repeat here – if you’re interested, check out the brilliance directly here:

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/author-success-the-laws-of-sowing-reaping

I know for my own part I often struggle with prioritising. People think I’m so organised, but to use a swimming teacher analogy (I’m a swimming teacher in my other life, so I can use one if I want to), I often feel like I’m taking on water, panicking about everything I’ve got to do and struggling to breathe.

It doesn’t help that I keep on taking on extra responsibilities.

This year for instance I finally got my first book published, KillingMeSoftly_cover(romantic suspense novel, Killing Me Softly) have another one just recently contracted (Paranormal romance, Dark Moon – those edits will be arriving any day) and I’m trying to write a new book, redraft another one and all this while I raise my kids, do family things, see my friends so they don’t forget about me and I don’t turn into one of those Morlock creatures from The Time Machine

Morlock from The Time Machine 2002

Morlock from The Time Machine 2002

who live in the dark, are allergic to light and are serious social pariahs – they eat the good surface folk (sounds a bit like a zombie to me – great monsters for nightmares), as well as work all the hours I did before and work on building my author platform on social media (I’ll take a breath now!)

Not only that, I decided it would be a great idea to not only volunteer to be a contest manager for RWAustralia (something I’ve done for 4 years) but to agree to become the Contest Co-Ordinator and be on the committee – a great opportunity with fabulous avenues for personal development, learning and networking, but still a lot of extra work and burden in an already overburdenend life.

However, I will fit it in, because like so many women before me, I’m a super woman. Or, I’m expected to be. And I only need somewhere in the vacinity of 4 hours sleep per night – at least that’s what I’m telling myself at the moment.

Maybe I am already turning into one of the monsters I write about!

Anyway, I digress.

I am happy to do all of this right now (although more sleep would be good), because I know that if I work hard now, it will begin to pay off in the future. In small degrees to begin with, but slowly, it will build and I will see return on my investment. Hopefully.

No, negative part of me. I WILL see a return. A good one. A very good one.

And the reason I know this is true is becuase of what has come in the past. Because I know that prioritising is important, but sometimes it’s just as important to take on more than you think you can and go with it for a while.To ignore the little voice in the back of your head that tells you you’re going to fail. To laugh in the face of defeat and hopelessness – although the giddy slightly off-kilter sensation I get from little sleep probably helps with this! 🙂

I struggled for years to make myself put my writing first. It was too easy when other people in my life were treating it like some ‘funny little hobby Leisl has’, to treat it seriously myself. When you hear something so often, or feel the thought from others so often, it’s easy to believe it. I mean, my family were great about it, but it’s hard to see the benefit when there’s so much work and heartache and no real, grab it in your hand, visceral reward.

The only problem was, I HAD to write. There’s no choice for me. My brain is too busy and if I don’t write, it feels like it’s going to explode. Writing is my release. So, I eventually taught myself (a lesson I still have to keep learning) to speak positively about me as a writer and think positively about me as a writer. I began to tell people I am a writer and not physicaly cringing as I waited for their inevitable response (usually uncomfortable laughter that you could be so deluded, or incredulous disbelief).

My desk. Laptop usually sits in the middle.

My desk. Laptop usually sits in the middle.

I made myself a space in our house and told my family they weren’t to touch it, or sit there, or use my computer because it was mine and surely I am entitled to a small bit of space in my house that is my own? I fiercely guard that writing space and I guard my writing time. I prioritised my writing as being something important, put my head down and worked. Nothing much happened for a long time and then suddenly, in the last year, I saw evidence that all my hard work was paying off and I got a contract with Penguin Australia’s new digital imprint, Destiny Romance.

Now I’m reading books on social media and building a platform(Kristen Lamb’s ‘Rise of the Machines: Humans in a Digital World is especially good) because it’s not just enough to write and publish a book nowadays, you must build a platform and keep it afloat by being active and present and share. The sharing is easy for me because I’m a talker and story teller, but being active and present regularly is harder given I’m not a massively social person, not to mention all the time restraints. But I’m trying to prioritise to make it part of my life every day, just as my writing is part of my life every day – because they are all part of the whole, and funnily enough, I’m actually finding it fun. Connecting with people I don’t know or know only a little is cool.

I try to do social media at times that I won’t write – like in the afternoon when the kids are home from school and I write mostly when they’re not there in between work and picking them up, or early in the morning. I know that no amount of social media platform building will mean a damn if I don’t have another book coming.

And I do. (Dark Moon – contracted). And another (Healer Moon – first draft done). And another (Blood Moon – WIP).

Little Monsters

Little Monsters

It is always a juggle though with family and work and the volunteering I do for RWAustralia. But I’m trying to do it in a way that’s not going to drive me crazy and turn me into this:

I know I’m not always going to find that balance, but that I am working on that too and I know, like Kristen says in her blog, that I need to stay fluid with my priorities and try to figure out when enough is enough for some things. I think it is hard to admit that something has a use by date, particularly when we are used to it, or others are relying on us to do it, but use by dates are there for a reason and we should take note of them.

I have no idea what my use by dates will be or what they will refer to first, but I will try to be open to accepting them, because I am in this for the long haul (and I really don’t want to turn into a Zombie Morlock.)

What do you struggle with? Do you get to do the things you love or do they get pushed aside? What things have you had to put aside to make room for others?

After his terrifying experience in the Luna Park Hollywood Horrors attraction (yes, a bad parenting decision – thanks for rubbing it in!), I really thought my youngest one wouldn’t want to go the horror themed dress up this year for Halloween. In fact, I wasn’t even certain he’d want to do Halloween for fear of seeing someone dressed up scary while we were out and about at twilight. He even shied away from wanting to watch some of the ‘scary’ bits in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (a movie both my boys love but that always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth as to what horrors can be done to a beloved franchise when producers don’t spend the time really making sure the reasons for adding to that franchise are solid – like a good script, directing, CGI, an actual story that makes sense within the world that has already been built… Don’t even get me started on the Star Wars prequels!! The horror….the horror…)

Anyway, I digress…

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

Zombie Skeleton and Glow in the Dark Skeleton

My boys embraced Halloween a few years ago when they were invited over to join friends of the family in their Trick or Treating and in the years since, the theme for Hallowween has always been horror.

Well, perhaps not always – both my monsters are boys after all and in the spirit of all boys, zombies, zombie skeletons, vampires and Star Wars characters are usually all the rage for Halloween.

Darth and Chewie

Darth and Chewie

 

Just like fart jokes are all the rage for humorous gags and Minecraft is the computer game of choice.

 

Anyway, mostly horror has always been my boys’ Halloween go-to of choice.

 

 

Scary Vampires

Scary Vampires

But back to my story…

 

After the disaster of the Hollywood Horrors, I thought last year’s wonderful make up effort, (the youngest one allowed me to go all make-up artist on him and turn him into my version of a scary blood-sucker) would not be repeated this year.

Imagine my pride that he truly looks like he would suck your blood!

Imagine my pride that he truly looks like he would suck your blood!

 

Which made me very sad. Turning him into one of the living dead was huge fun for me and dusted off my make-up skills that I’ve not really used since I gave up the theatre before the older one was born. The youngest one was always enthusiastic about being made to look like something horrific (and given my penchance for the paranormal, I was happy to play along with this, especially as the older one wouldn’t even let me near him with makeup in hand.) I was all resigned this year to the younger one wanting to go as Harry Potter (he dressed up as Harry for a fancy dress day at school) and have nothing but a lightning bolt to draw on his forehead. Not that I have anything against Harry – love the books, love the movies – and he really did make a very cute Harry, but it would mean all my fabulous theatre make-up would continue to sit in the make-up bag feeling incredibly sad about being alone and unused and unapreciated (of course, that was the make-up feeling that way. Not me at all.)

I could not have been more wrong.

Red-eyed devil

Red-eyed devil

 

 

The older one (who won’t even watch Doctor Who because he finds it too scary) made his usual dress up choice, which involved putting a demon mask on and not letting me anywhere near him with my make-up skills. He wouldn’t even let me ‘demonise’ his hands with some effective blood splatter 🙁  or wear all black – yes, that is a camel on his chest. Very demonic.

However, the younger one surprised the pants off me when he decided he wanted to go dressed as Freddy Kruger.

‘Why Freddy Kruger?’ asked me, a little shell shocked and trying not to bring up the bad experience of the Hollywood Horrors again. ‘Isn’t he a little scary? I mean, do you even know who he is?’

‘He’s the baddy from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ says the youngest one who has never seen a horror movie in his life, nor has his brother, but they both seem to have an extensive awareness of them, or more to the point, the scary masks that the killers like to wear in horror movies.

‘Well, you know that’s a horror movie,’ says me carefully.

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘Then are you sure you want to dress up as him?’

‘Yeah. He’s scary and cool.’

‘Really?’ says me, incredibly surprised.

‘Oh, yeah. He was the nice man who took a photo with us at Hollywood Horrors. I like him.’

‘But I thought that scared you.’

‘It did, but not him. He was there before the scary bit. Although he is scary and I want to be scary. It is Halloween after all, Mum. You’re meant to dress up scary.’

‘Oh, right. Well… okay then.’

I thought in the weeks leading up to Halloween he would change his mind (he usually does change it about twenty times) but he didn’t. he stuck to this idea of wanting to be truly scary. We couldn’t find a mask for him – they are all adult sized – and the children sized Freddy Kruger costumes only come with a hat, striped top and glove with ‘claws’. The kid on the front of the costume we bought had some make-up on and the youngest one looked up at me and said, ‘You can do better make-up than that, Mum. Remember, I want to be truly scary.’

Freddy Kruger

Freddy Kruger

So, even though I was still a bit bewildered by his attitude to this whole thing, I decided to give it a good go. I bought some great prosthetic pieces to help enhance the awful visage of Mr Kruger and brought some new make up colours and went to town on my version of the nightmare villain. And this is what I came up with…

I was pretty happy with the end results (he is pretty amazing about having it put on – he sits so still and allows me to do his neck and hands as well to create the entire feel.) And he was really thrilled with how he looked – go figure!

Then, when we were out and about with my sister and nephew, I suddenly realised why he wanted to be made to look truly scary. When you have a really well executed scary costume, people respond to it in a really exagerated way (Holy crap, you’re Freddy Kruger!’ ‘Wow, that’s scary!’ ‘Oh my god, that looks real!’) and you get more lollies. In fact, he got the all time best comment, ‘That’s the best, most scary costume of the year, for me – here, have a handful more of these.’ Every young monsters dream!

I have a smart cookie on my hands. One who knows a good scare is worth a tonne of sugar!

My Little Monsters

My Little Monsters

 

Both boys (otherwise known on the night as ‘my little monsters’ brought in a really good haul of lollies – more than I imagined they could, with little FK coming in ahead of the rest by about a dozen lollies.

He’s pretty good about sharing though, so there weren’t any fights and everyone had a lovely night – it was beautiful and mild here in Australia at the moment with the spring roses out and scenting the air. My sister and I had a great time strolling, chatting and enjoying the boys’ excitement and rolling our eyes over the inevitable sugar overdose and trouble getting them to bed.

I know we don’t ‘celebrate’ Halloween here in Australia like it is celebrate elsewhere, but when you do it, it is really quite a fun, lovely thing to do with lots of generous people who are happy to open their doors, exclaim over the costumes and hand out lollies to the horrifying monsters, devlish devils, bloodsucking vampires, fairies, witches and movie heroes and villains that come to their door. it is more about the ‘treats’ with no sign of the ‘tricks’ that you often hear about happening on the night in the US when people go overboard. In the years we’ve done it with friends or family, goodwill flows and it is a lovely thing to see.

Romance Writers of Australia