Me, Harry Potter, and an FUI (Flying Under the Influence)

30 Day Book Challenge
Day 5: Book you wish you could live in

This is so easy, for the simple reason that I have so often dreamed of living in this particular book.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve read the series, but I do know I’ve done so not only in English, but also in the Italian and French translations.  In fact, I account my knowing words such as ‘owls’ and ‘wands’ in languages other than English to these books.

Since its debut in 1997 when I was a wee 12 year old, the Harry Potter books have captured hearts around the world, uniting children and adults alike in a world where pictures move, magic is real and every flavour beans really are every flavour.  I’m certain I’m not the only one who held a glimmer of hope that one day I, too, would receive a letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Sadly, it never came (I blame Australia Post).

HOWEVER, if it had, here are some of the things that would have transpired:

I would have been in Gryffindor house, naturally.  It’s where all the cool kids are at, especially our resident celebrity ‘The Boy Who Lived’ Harry Potter.

Ron and I would have had a lasting love, hindered by a brief estrangement caused by Ron’s jealousy. This was due to the time Harry tried his luck with me at the Yule Ball after a few too many Butterbeers.  We all made up of course and Ron got over it when Harry started making goo goo eyes at Ginny. Now that, he had a harder time getting over.

Ginny wouldn’t have liked me because of aforementioned incident with Harry.  Also, I’m prettier than her.

My best friend would have been Luna.  We would have spent hours observing the Crumple-Horned Snorkack and skipping classes to fly the Thestrals.  Together we would have had shared a belief in the existence of: Moon Frogs, Blibbering Humdingers, Heliopaths, Umgubular Slashkilters, Wrackspurts and Nargles, despite no-one else believing us.  I would, however, shake my head at her when she yakked on about Aquavirius Maggots.  A creature that resembles a brain? Now that’s just ridiculous.

I would have been an astute student of Flying, Transfiguration and Care of Magical Creatures, but absolutely rubbish at History of Magic, much to the dismay of Professor Binns.  I would have had two muggle parents you see, like Hermione, and so knew nothing of magic (or the history of same) before starting at Hogwarts.  That said, Hermione would have been a life saver with her abnormally sized brain, letting me copy her parchment on many occasions in exchange for a few vials of Amortentia, a love potion.  You see, at first I think Hermione was a bit jealous when I started dating Ron, but she got over it when I offered to help her find a boyfriend of her own.  That being, of course, an impossible task seeing as she is so bloody stuck up and a bit of a know-it-all, after many months of failed attempts I would have asked the Weasley brothers if they had any love potions to spare. They would’ve happily obliged, free of charge no less! This was partly because they thought I was totally awesome, but mostly because they thought I was way too good for their little brother.  Hermione would have had her share of loved up wizards, and I would have gotten my homework done.  Result.

My Patronus would have been a Lion.  Take that Dementors! Peow peow!

As Harry had Hedwig, Hermione Crookshanks and Ron Scabbers, my Magical Familiar would have been a Cornish Pixie named Sly.  We would get up to a lot of mischief together, including taunting the Fat Lady with lots of fat mumma jokes, such as “Your mumma so fat, she sat on a rainbow and skittles popped out.” Looking back, I suppose we were quite cruel, but Sly and I enjoyed our antics immensely.  And the Fat Lady got her own back that time we snuck out late and she refused to let us back in, only to be discovered by Snape a short time later, who gave us the arduous task of polishing all the trophies in the trophy cabinet on the evening of the Gryffindor vs Slytherin Quidditch Finals. That bastard.

My wand would be a 12 inch Holly with a Dragon heartstring core.  Apparently this makes it very effective for hexes.

For the end of year exams during my first year at Hogwarts, I would have successfully devised a potion to source and trap all of Voldemort’s Horcruxes.  After doing so, the Ministry of Magic would have been able to destroy said Horcruxes on the advice of Professor Dumbledore.  This would have in turn led to the true death of Voldemort, who apparently was still hanging around like a bad smell after his last rendezvous with the Potters all those years ago.  I would have been commended for my achievements, awarded a medal by the Minister of Magic himself and become something of a celebrity for a brief time.  That was probably the most exciting thing that would have happened during my seven years at Hogwarts.  The rest of my time there would have been pretty boring, with nothing of particular interest happening. 

Oh, wait a sec, Harry Potter did get kind of fat and there was that time he got an FUI for flying under the influence.  He really did enjoy his butterbeers.  Yeah, that was pretty exciting at the time I suppose…

Harry flying under the influence (Courtesy of Izimile which has many other funny images like this one. Click on the photo to be taken to them)

Yep, I sure would’ve liked to live in the Harry Potter books…

~storytelling nomad~

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What brings you here, dearest bloggers?

I came across this great blog post yesterday, discussing the bizarre and wonderful search terms that had led readers to that particular blog.  Needless to say, it was not long before I was investigating the search engine referrals on my own blog and having a good old giggle and raising a few eyebrows at the search terms that were bringing people to storytelling nomad.

So, what brings you here, dearest bloggers?  Apparently Google logos are as interesting to you as they are to me, because that search comes in at number one, generating a number of hits every day.  Wallpaper background is another top hit, although I think I only mentioned it once and I don’t think I was very interesting about it.  Sorry about that.  A few people have actually searched for storytelling nomad which just brings a smile to my face.  I love you, anonymous internet fans!

But what have been some of the more peculiar searches.  Here I list the top 10, in no particular order:

  1. what does it take to make people go on quotes
    You would think this is pretty self explanatory.  A good quote makes people go on quotes.  Also, there are none on my blog so I’m sorry to have disappointed you.
  2. happy cowgirl
    I hope you, erm, found what you were looking for Woody.
  3. very old positive lady; my nanna; creepy old women; attractive old lady photo
    There are soooo many search terms about old women, presumably leading to my inner nanna post.  I picked out a few of the best.  Firstly, I’m glad that someone searched for a ‘positive’ old lady, as opposed to the negative, grouchy ones that so often plague us?  No, I’m pretty sure your nanna won’t turn up if you Google ‘my nanna’.  Creepy old women…plural?? And an attractive old lady photo.  Look mister, you need to get out more.  Seriously.
  4. if you came to 2 doors ,one is good other is bad and they look the same what question will you ask
    I would ask which one would lead you to better grammar and punctuation.  Or, depending on your preference towards good or evil, you could just ask which one is, you know, good or evil? Or for better signage?  Come on man, you Googled this?
  5. do u love me wallpaper
    No, wallpaper doesn’t love you.  Also, wallpaper is inanimate and incapable of love.
  6. ‘inception’ was masterpiece
    *Giggles*.  This person was probably unimpressed with my stance on this commonly thrown around statement.  Find out more here. #itreallywasnt
  7. spiritually connected to animals
    I’m sure you are, no really.
  8. hell of my own making text
    Please don’t hurt me.
  9. if i am a tree in autumn
    Then I am the sky in summer. Hippie love.
  10. if you tell the truth you don’t need a good memory
    I think you might be on to something here…  Those of us with bad memories, there is hope for us yet!

Okay, so your turn.  What’s the best/craziest/creepiest/weirdest most unrelated term that someone has searched for to get to your blog?

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 4

Book that makes you cry

As a rule, I like to read books that make me feel good, not sad or unhappy.  It’s partly why I love fantasy fiction so much, in that it allows me to escape the harsh truths of reality and enter worlds where magic happens.  It’s also the great thing about fiction, where the author has the creative license to make sure that everything turns out okay in the end, and generally speaking, it does.

In any case, every now and then I hear so many good reviews about a book not of the fantasy genre that I decide I simply must read it and see what all the fuss is about.  Sometimes this results in me being glad I spread my literary wings as I discover something amazing outside of fantasy.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  A great deal of the time it sends me running to my bookshelf, grasping desperately for a Harry Potter book or The Lord of the Rings, ready to re-immerse myself into lands where “stupefy!” will render my enemy temporarily immobile, or where I have a guardian wizard by the name of Gandalf who makes cool fireworks to brighten the night sky.  Happy days.

One such time that sent me running to my bookshelf, but not before I cradled my knees in the corner, rocking back and forth and weeping with sorrow, was Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I have great respect for this woman after discovering that she wrote the book during NaNoWriMo, something I’m looking forward to participating in this year.  It really is a beautifully written story, but honestly, I just couldn’t get past the cruelty to animals part of it.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand in this world, it’s the abuse and/or neglect of animals, and I find reading/watching/hearing about it very difficult.  I can’t even watch animated movies about animals because I know there’s always one that will be trapped or hurt or die and will have me blubbering like a baby.

The cruelty to the elephant in this book was just too much for my weak, animal spirited heart to bear.  And it was one of those things where I just knew that even if everything turned out okay in the end, the damage was already done.  *Cue more weeping*

So yes, this book made me cry, a lot.  And by the end I didn’t feel much better about it either.  *Spoiler Alert* The old man got to go back to the circus, but ultimately he was still rejected and abandoned by his family! Too sad…too sad I tell you!

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 3

Book that makes you laugh out loud

A friend of mine who knows me quite well bought me this children’s book by award winning Australian author Jackie French, for my birthday a couple of years ago.  It absolutely cracks me up.  Why?  Because this is an accurate depiction of what my own diary would look like if I had one.  My friend realised this also, ergo children’s book for my adult birthday.

Okay, so to be fair, I’m not quite as bad as Mister Wombat, but by golly do I like my sleep…rephrase, I NEED my sleep.

Mister Wombat and I share a typical Monday routine...

~storytelling nomad~

How to become an author in 5 incredibly difficult steps

An insightful and mildly hysterical look at the 5 painstaking steps it takes to become an author.  I literally el oh elled reading this one.  Thanks to Kate who found and shared this post on her wonderful blog Klebenleiben.

 

How to Become an Author in 5 Incredibly Difficult Steps

By Robert Brockway
June 22, 2011 389,653 views

A while back, I wrote a non-fiction book about the apocalypse. Since publishing the book, the question I get asked the most has to be: “What are you doing in my toolshed?” Second place goes to “Is that my wife’s cocktail dress?” The third is- well, let’s skip ahead to questions not relating to a highly illegal fetish revolving around forbidden sheds and stolen evening wear. People usually ask me: “How did you get your book published?” Everybody wants to know how the process works, because they think that if they can just get the steps for this secret dance memorized, it’s all plaid jackets and grad-student-blowjobs from that point forward. There are a lot of questions and answers for new authors out there on the Internet, but they always seem to skirt the subject in the name of preserving some sort of artistic mystique. As is the case with all nice things, I would like to ruin that tradition. I’ll talk to you about the publishing process honestly and unflinchingly, even when it makes the whole thing (and by extension, me) look kind of shitty.

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 2

Least Favourite Book

You’re kidding right? I have enough trouble remembering my faves, let alone the ones I’d rather not remember at all.  Okay restorative brain power, come to me now.  Go go gadget memory!

In the vague mist of my long term reading memory (that would be, oh say, the last 5 years or so) I do recall reading a book that I thought was pretty good, light enterntainment.  Excitement, joy and happiness ensued at discovering an author who had written other potentially good books to occupy my twilight reading hours.  I sourced out another of her novels and set myself up in sweet anticipation.  But hark? What’s this? The first story told of a woman moving from Australia to Ireland, and this one now tells of a woman moving from Ireland to Australia?  The characters are different but some of the names are the same? Gees woman, in need of new material much? This royally pissed me off.

Honestly, I don’t remember much about the books other than that, and perhaps on re reading I wouldn’t be so harsh.  The author was Monica McInernay, and I think the two books were called Spin the Bottle and Upside Down Inside Out.  I’ve never read anything else of hers since, although that’s not to say nothing else of hers is any good.  Like I said, I enjoyed the first book I read, but didn’t appreciate reading such a similar story with the second.

On a side note, this book challenge business is obviously entirely subjective.  One person’s favourite is another’s least favourite.  I nearly went with Water for Elephants, because although spectacularly written and a moving story, it really was just too sad for me.  I could never bring myself to read it again.  But in fear of grand retribution, I thought it best to go with something a little less mainstream bestseller.

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 1

Favourite Book

So this one is easy, and I’m not going to go on about it because you’ve heard it all before.  Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is still top on my list of faves right now.  If you want to know more about this love affair, check out my previous post.

Did I mention Robin’s writing is perfection? Robin is God? Yes? Okay, moving along…

~storytelling nomad~

30 Day Book Challenge

My kindred spirit Stef and her wonderful blog at Dodging Commas has shed the light on this groovy little challenge.  I am the first to admit that I have an ATROCIOUS memory, so this will be quite a good power of recall exercise for me, not to mention an excellent means to get my blog mojo back after my extended absence. Some may also call it procrastination, an exploit I embrace with open arms.

Day 1: Favourite book
Day 2: Least favourite book
Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud
Day 4: Book that makes you cry
Day 5: Book you wish you could live in
Day 6: Favorite young adult book
Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite
Day 8: Book that scares you
Day 9: Book that makes you sick
Day 10: Book that changed your life
Day 11: Book from your favorite author
Day 12: Book that is most like your life
Day 13: Book whose main character is most like you
Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry
Day 15: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child
Day 16: Longest book you’ve read
Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read
Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like
Day 19: Book that turned you on
Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times
Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood
Day 22: Book you plan to read next
Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished)
Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene
Day 25: Favorite book you read in school
Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book
Day 27: Favorite fiction book
Day 28: Last book you read
Day 29: Book you’re currently reading
Day 30: Favorite coffee table book

 

Oh crap, it starts now doesn’t it?  I’m doomed…

~storytelling nomad~

Busy being a nerd

Gone Fishing.  Not really.  But had I an office door of some description, that is the sign I’d have liked to have had hanging off it, just because that’s what all the cool kids seem to do these days, you know?

But I digress.

I have been absent from the blogosphere my pretties.  How many times have I set my eyes upon those blogs apologising for their absence, listing their feeble reasons for their lack of posts, cowering on their knees, praying for mercy as they beg forgiveness? Many a time have I witnessed such a sad state of affairs and scoffed at their insolence.  “Shame on you!” I have shouted with a lofty arrogance!  And yet today, my friends, followers, minions…today I yield myself as one of those sad, unworthy bloggers.  OH THE SHAME!

Before I ask of you your compassion, your mercy, your humanity, I must first follow suit and list three reasons for my unexpected leave:

  1. Work – At the snow.  You all knew this one, and frankly, with no electricity or reception I had little choice while this was happening.  Therefore, I refuse to apologise for this you evil fiends!
  2. Supanova – Ohhhh this is where it gets interesting and I start to weep with joy at the memory of my recent trip to Sydney where I joined my fellow nerds at the annual fantasy/sci fi convention.  More about this below.
  3. The Plague – Well that’s what it feels like okay?! Apparently it’s just ye ol influenza, but if the black death gets me don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Also, it has rendered me incapable of blogging, eating chocolate, being anything other than horizontal, and has brought on a severe need of Buffy reruns (potentially also due to aforementioned Supanova trip.  Unconfirmed).

So, as you can see, the past week and a half has had moments of pleasure and pain, joy and sadness, heaven and hell…but mostly, just a lot of no blogging.  Please accept my sincerest apologies.  Are we done?  Good.  Because now I demand you share in all I have to tell you about the nerd fest that was Supanova.  If you are at all confused about this awesome event, I suggest you mosy on over to their website www.supanova.com.au and educate yourself before someone discovers your nerdy ignorance.

But before I go on, I cannot contain it any longer.  I met, talked to, and touched with my bare hands two amazing celebrities.  James Marsters aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (SQUEEEEEEEAAALLL!), and Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies, who, without the beach blonde hair that so befits some men/vampires – cough Spike cough – is quite the hotty.

My world is complete!

Oh James, you naughty boy!

Moving along.  It was a bit touch and go there for a while with that damn Chilean ash cloud that continues to stuff around domestic and international flights here in Aus.  Come on Chileans, can’t you keep your volcanoes under control like the rest of us?  As it turns out, last Thursday I was on one of the first flights allowed out of Tassie after a week of flight troubles…phew.  Made it to Sydney and got ready for the 3 day Supanova bonanza.

Adz and I having a few train troubles

I went with my super awesome friend Adz, who is a big nerd also.  After one train hiccup (see right), we made it to the showgrounds where the event began on Friday night.  We spent 2 hours standing in line to purchase our photo and autograph tickets for the Sat and Sun, knowing from previous experiences that this line would get much, much longer over the weekend.

On the Saturday and Sunday we spent our time meeting the celebs (Cue more SQUEALING!), scouring the merchandise stalls and staring in amazement at the as always high standard of cosplayers.  For those of you unfamiliar with cosplay, the faithful wiki dictionary defines it as:

The practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, esp. one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.

Captain Jack Sparrow Cosplay

In other words, absolute awesomeness.  There were characters from Star Wars, Firefly, The Disney Movies, Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Iron Man and so many I didn’t recognise that even I at times felt an unworthy nerd…and that happens rarely.  One of my faves was a certain Captain Jack Sparrow, who looked the spitting image of Johnny Depp.  Sensational.

On the Saturday evening we had the pleasure of watching James Marsters in concert.  Yes ladies, the man can sing! My best friends Mel and Aly joined us, and we couldn’t help but start sighing and giggling every time he looked our way with a cheeky smile.  What a hunny.

On the Sunday evening, Adz and I had the added pleasure of attending a small after party with James and Gareth David Lloyd from Torchwood.  I’ve never watched Torchwood, so can safely say I know zip about the show, its characters and actors.  And yet, as eight of us sat at a table with this actor, everyone seemed relatively star struck.  Except me of course.  I was saving that for James, and well, like I said, I didn’t really know who Gareth was.  Soooo I tried to make conversation, and of course I put my foot in it when I asked “Where in England are you from”….to the WELSHMAN.  Okay okay, so I know being English and all I’m supposed to know this stuff, but I don’t.  It all sounds pommy to me! Thankfully he was most gracious about it, and after receiving many daggers from the Torchwood lovers around the table we managed to steer conversation back to safe topics such as the weather and food.  Boring!

And James, well James was just James.  Buffy is my all time favourite show so it was an amazing experience to meet and talk with him.  He is a big charmer and so interesting, and has the same laugh as Spike…by which I suppose I mean Spike has the same laugh as James? Regardless…I don’t really know how to describe the experience in words.  It was amazing, and yet also strange.  I can see how some fans could get ‘overzealous’ with their admiration (in fact, I think there was one potential stalker at our table), but even so, I find that meeting these ‘celebrities’ further strengthens the reality that differentiates the characters from their performers.  I love Spike and his character, and I ‘know’ him pretty well.  James was awesome and I could see bits of Spike in him, but he isn’t Spike.  Plus, he doesn’t have an English accent…I know, right!?  The actors were interesting, kind and gracious with us, but at the end of the day, this is their job, and meeting us is part of how they market themselves.  It was a wonderful experience, as it always is at these events, but it again reminded me how we can enjoy the shows and the characters in them, but meeting the actors isn’t meeting the characters, because sadly, they don’t exist…sob!

In any case, the night ended on an unexpected note with a lovely girl we met, Susannah, reading my Tarot cards for me after the celebs had left.  It was uncannily accurate!  I have always been interested in this sort of ‘supernatural’ thing; tarot cards and clairvoyants etc, but have never considered it seriously enough to actually try out, my inner sceptic telling me not waste my money on what might be a load of crap.  I’d love to do it again though because it really was amazing what she told me of my past, present and future.  She had me when she pulled out the card with the words: ‘THE HERMIT’.  She was in my head I tell you!

The festivities ended with me, the plague, and a terrifying few hours as the Chilean ash cloud threatened my return flight home.  Thankfully I was on one of the last flights out of Sydney before they went into shut down mode again.  Fate anyone?

Well, I think this account of my absence is long enough for now.  I shall leave you with some photographic evidence of me and my recent squeeze, James.  Here’s to the next post not taking as long as this one.  Of course, if I die of the plague then I can only apologise further and ask that you say kind, but funny things about me when I’m gone.

Me and Spike (My boyfriend, obviously)

~storytelling nomad~

Ending Short Stories

In correlation to my previous post regarding my frustration with the lack of plot in my novel, I found this post at Foetal Positions very interesting.

When writing a story, I often find that knowing my ending acts as a good guide in navigating what will happen in the middle.  I have always written short stories with an ending in mind, which is partly why I’ve found starting my novel without having a vague outline of the ending so arduous. I think this post brings up some excellent points that can be attributed to any story, short or long, especially regarding ‘theme’.

It isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone stress the importance of a theme in a story. In Jennifer Fallon‘s MasterClass Series, she pointed out the importance of, and how to identify, your theme:

Think about the dreaded question “So… what’s your story about?”

Do you start by saying “Well… it’s set on this world where…”

If you say that, then your world building is taking over the story.

If you start by saying “It’s about a boy (girl, dragon, sentient flu virus, etc) who…”, then your characters are probably driving your story.

Ask me what the Seconds Sons Trilogy is about, and I won’t tell you it’s about a world with two suns, or a boy who sets out to destroy a religion, I will tell you it’s about deciding if the end justifies the means.

That, you see, is my theme.

The theme is what carries the story along and steers characters to their destiny. Whether it be grief, good vs evil, journeys, betrayal, peace and war, coming of age, heroism, or love, a theme is what leaves you at the end of a great story reflecting what you have learnt and thinking about how all the pieces came together to make a point about something.

Check out the full ‘Ending Short Stories’ post below:

it’s a process that leaves me feeling like a camel in a tropical rainforest: confused. I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately, as a break from “novelling” and writing poetry, though it’s the end of my school year, which means I can barely motivate myself to do anything.  But laziness aside, I struggle to end short stories. It’s not that I drag them out — I fiddle with the ending, the actual words on the page, and the way it closes. Shou … Read More

via foetal positions

~storytelling nomad~

I can’t move…

…my arms, my legs, my back.  Everything aches.  My fingers are even struggling to type these words.  Much editing is proving useful to making sure this post sounds as though it was written by an astute adult rather than a deformed domestic animal stepping on the keys, which, in case you’re wondering, looks more like this:

bjªfsijo¡L7 ^% )@*Ynd uy%!0-2 8ªnsv uhs$dw90la 68§∞2ey7husdG&%#_*

And yet, what a magnificent couple of days spent on the mountain.  Clear blue skies, very little wind, and many happy customers.  I woke this morning to a beautiful snowy mountain sunrise, as you can see;

Ben Lomond Sunrise

For so early in the season we have amazing snow cover at Ben Lomond at the moment, and were extremely lucky that our first open weekend was over a long weekend.  Tomorrow, this hard life (#notreally) continues as I head back up to the mountain for another couple of days at the snow.  I apologise for the brevity of this post, and the reasonable lack of content, but as soon as I can move my bones again with a respectable amount of agility for someone my age, I’ll be sure to make up for it.  If I don’t, punishment by death will ensue.

~storytelling nomad~

The money making part of my day

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It may come as a surprise to some, but on occasion I actually do work, of the paid kind.  It threatens to tear me away from my writing dreams but it also rewards me with cash that I like to throw up in the air with joy!  Well, to be honest, it is usually sent directly to my account and then swiftly spent on life’s necessities such as food, rent and books before I even see those colourful pieces of plastic…but no matter.  The important thing is I’m fed, housed and literate.  Today I will be working on a beautiful mountain, Ben Lomond, in the north of Tasmania, manning the ski lifts and selling tickets to the customers.  With little reception (read: none) and no electricity, I suspect my chances of blogging are relatively low.  How will I survive? What will this absence of posts reduce me to? Fear not, dear bloggers.  I am confident I can make it through the day, just.  In the meantime, take a look at the pretty slideshow of my Ben Lomond photos and imagine me there, in the fresh air, feet crunching in the snow, greeting the first skiers and boarders of the season.  Winter is here my friends, and it’s my favourite season.

Jacobs Ladder - This is the only way up the mountain. I took this photo only a week ago but now I am told it is covered in snow, with drifts in some places over a metre high. If you do not hear from me after this day you can safely assume I met my fate on Jacobs Ladder

~storytelling nomad~

It’s never too late…

…to find your voice. I think this post at Terri’s Little Corner is well deserving of being Freshly Pressed.

It Took Me 57 Years Artistic expressionism.  Drive.  Passion.  I get it.  I finally get it after 57 years and 9 months.  And I’m one of the lucky ones.  Many people go their whole lives without getting it.   Many people go through their entire lives in robotic motion, sans emotion, taking up space…wasting precious time.  I don’t want that to be me.  That will not be me! I saw a beautiful human being rendered a crying, hopeless, helpless mess on a reality show this w … Read More

via Terri's Little Corner

Have you been tagged?

The lovely Angela Wallace has just tagged me on her blog in what’s called a meme.  As far as I can gather, it’s like a chain letter for bloggers.  Here we go…

Do you think you’re hot? I have a pretty attractive brain…I can’t prove it to you, but trust me, it’s smokin’.

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you’re using at the moment. I switch between dreamy scenery and fantasy scenes for my desktop wallpaper.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat? Yesterday…home made chicken soup nom nom

What were you thinking as you were doing this? That somebody probably should’ve thought up a better question than “when was the last time you ate chicken meat”.  In fact, I’m going to ask TWO new questions to make up for this travesty:

If you had to make a choice between never being able to read again, or never being able to write again, which would you choose? I think I’d have to go with never writing again.  I found a loophole you see…If I could read and still find inspiration to create stories…then I could just tell them and get someone else to write them.  I’m pretty clever like that.

If you could domesticate any wild animal, what would it be? A lion.  Because they’re like giant dogs, but cats.  If you haven’t heard of Christian the Lion watch this video:

Do you have nicknames? What are they? Not really. Can’t really do much with Katy.  I’ve had someone call me Kitty Kat Katy, while others just don’t understand the whole Katy with a ‘y’ thing as it’s not a common spelling in Australia, so they call me Kathy – no I didn’t forget how to spell my name douchebag, there’s no ‘h’ there for a reason!  One friend calls me Kat-why to emphasise the ‘odd’ spelling of my name.

Tag 8 blogging friends…

  1. Stef
  2. Angela
  3. Kate
  4. Danielle
  5. Charlotte
  6. Gabriellan
  7. Gajjex
  8. Andrew G. Cooper

Who’s listed as No. 1? Stef.  Our inner nannas have proclaimed us kindred spirits!  She also has a great blog over at dodging commas with some excellent writing tips amongst other great reads.

Say something about No. 5. I enjoy reading Charlotte’s posts, particularly what she had to say about females in fantasy.

How did you get to know No. 3? My NaNoWriMo writing buddy! We ‘met’ blogging through WordPress and we’ll be keeping each other motivated when we participate in NaNoWrMo this year.

How about No. 4. Again, through blogging.  Danielle is a 23 year old from Ireland and I love her accent. I’ve never actually heard it, but I love all Irish accents.

Leave a message for No. 6. Very impressed with the quality of your writing at such a young age.

Leave a lovey dovey message for No. 2. Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m sending blog love, right back at you.

Do No. 7 and No. 8 have any similarities? They are both very encouraging and supportive of my blog, and both have impressive blogs of their own.  They are also both male, which I think is worth mentioning, for no other reason than this list is 75% female.

Where did the writing begin?

I believe it all started with being an avid reader.  As soon as I could recognise the letters of the alphabet I was rather enthusiastic about sounding out words wherever I could see them.  My sources tell me that I would sit in the car and gleefully sound out all the words I could see as we drove along.  Just so you know, small things still entertain my small mind.

At the age of 7 I dabbled a bit in the art of telling stories but as you can see it didn’t go quite to plan:

My disappointing start to writing fiction

I didn’t even finish my first sentence.  Sigh.  A flick through this notebook shows that I was thankfully more successful with later attempts. I am, however, happy to see that even at this young age I was not predisposed to telling stories that were all about me, taking a mere four sentences before I got ‘board’ with writing about myself and my day.  Also, my stories may have improved, but I believe my handwriting has unfortunately deteriorated since this time.

So, up until about the age of 10, I concentrated on my love of reading.  I remember during my school years in England having book lists and participating in reading competitions.  I would stay up late and read as many books as I could from the designated lists and ask family members to sponsor my reading challenges.  I should probably note here that I wasn’t quite so enthusiastic about the texts they asked us to read in High School.  Shakespeare vs titles such as “I Want My Potty!” There was no contest really.

Success! Young Writer's Award 1st Place - Age 10

Then 1995 came.  The year my family moved to Australia.  A new country, a new school and what seemed like a new language.  The words that I had loved chanting in the car for all those years, suddenly became a point of interest and cause for light hearted jest to my new young Australian comrades.  “Listen to how she says darrrnce! It’s daaance!” I was already quite shy, but I retreated some more, embarrassed by the accent that coincidentally I now wish I still had.

Nonetheless, the words didn’t disappear just because I no longer spoke them so often.  Instead of speaking them I found great pleasure in writing them.  Within my first few months at that primary school I had won my first writing award.  I believe I wrote a riveting piece on dolphins, with a hand drawn illustration to match (N.B. My artistic career was not so successful).  My career as a writer had begun, and that trophy still sits on my bookshelf with pride of place.  Coincidentally, my new best friend was most displeased by my success, as she had won this particular award the previous year.  As young children sometimes are, she became quite cruel with jealousy and not long after, I transferred to a different school where I was not laughed at for my accent, and made a new best friend who is still my best friend today.  Happy endings all round.

Meanwhile, I continued to pursue my budding career as a writer and just before my 11th birthday became a member of the Starfish Young Writers Club.  Their motto: “The very next starfish star could be you!” I was quite determined to become a starfish star.  Today I found a few things they sent me when I joined.  One being a welcome note from the publisher, and another a poster to put on my wall.  I find that the advice they gave me as an 11 year old, still applies at 25 and probably will for a very long time to come:

Granted, these days the boxes are more along the lines of folders on our computers, and instead of ‘terrible stories’ and ‘great stories’ they’re called ‘absolute crap’ and ‘not so crap’.  But the message remains the same.  Practice and just keep writing.  It all keeps coming back to those relatively straightforward words of wisdom.  The manner in which we write may have changed with the speedy evolution of desktop computers and the internet, mostly to our benefit as writers, but the way we write, the way that we become better writers, is still the same.  Practice.

Over a decade later and here I am, still happily writing away and enjoying the process of telling stories and sharing them with others.

My ‘terrible stories’ box, however, remains quite a bit fuller than my ‘great stories’ box, but as far as I can tell, even the most successful writers have this problem.  As the poster says, “You need to do lots of terrible writing, too.  And in between, you’ll write something great.”

20 ways in which I channel my inner nanna

This is an accurate representation of my inner nanna

I may be in my mid 20s but I’m under the firm belief that deep down I’m channelling my inner nanna.  These are the top 20 reasons why:

  1. Nanna naps – My friends will attest to this one.  If I don’t get at least a solid 7 hours of decent sleep then I will need a nanna nap.  If I don’t get my nanna nap then I usually go very quiet and wear a sour look on my face.  It’s most unbecoming.
  2. Knitting and lawn bowls – Both sound like very reasonable extra curricular activities worth pursuing.
  3. I have many senior moments – Oft mistaken for ‘blonde’ moments.
  4. I would rather spend a night at the theatre than a night at the pub – I’m just cultured that way, you know?
  5. My eyesight – Is pretty bad.
  6. I have an unreasonable fondness for cardigans – [intentionally left blank]
  7. I don’t do fast mode – I don’t exactly dawdle, but I won’t run to the crossing to catch the flashing green man.  Honestly, I don’t think the red man gets enough credit.
  8. I look down on those who use too many acronyms when texting – Shakespeare wouldn’t approve either.
  9. I like receiving actual letters by actual mail – Preferably with a wax seal.
  10. Handwriting – I appreciate good penmanship.  This stems from my Primary School days when I spent much time and effort working towards getting my pen license and refining my cursive.  It was an exciting time in my life.
  11. My memory – My long term memory, heck my short term memory, is pretty unreliable.
  12. I have friends with seniors cards – They’re my entourage, my possy, my crew…my kindred spirits!
  13. I refer to close friends as kindred spirits – see above.
  14. I get nostalgic – A lot.
  15. My vocabulary – I regularly say things like “good grief!” “Oh dear!” and “knickers”
  16. I enjoy classical music – Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart.  They knew their shit.
  17. Fashion – I would like to see a return of the top hat.  And the dresses from Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, naturally.  In fact, send me back in time to Jane Austen’s day and surround me by soldiers in uniform, men in top hats and lots of ladylike activities such as reading and knitting (see point #2) and I will be most content.
  18. Comfort – I take my pillow EVERYWHERE.  This is sometimes awkward and leads to concerned stares, but I’m the one having the last laugh after a terrific night’s sleep.
  19. The Queen – I think she’s pretty hip.
  20. Technology – I have a pretty clued-on inner nanna when it comes to technology, but she comes on quite aggressive when it comes to remote controls.  There are simply far too many buttons on that thing.  See here for further evidence of abuse against the elderly via the remote control.

Overcoming a fear of writers’ groups

Last night, with some trepidation, I attended my very first EVER writers’ group.  I’d say it has been nearly two years since I started flirting with the idea of joining such a group, knowing that deep down it would be greatly beneficial to my writing.  But rather than having high ideas of sipping tea with my pinky in the air, smiling coyly as this fictitious group of intellectuals throw their heads back in laughter at my quick witted genius as a writer, I kept terrorising myself with the following hypothetical scenarios:

a) Enter scene.  Group of teenage emos stare back at me (as best as they can considering the matted down hair that covers the majority of their central and peripheral vision), growl slightly under their breath and shift in their tight jeans before continuing their discussion over their latest compilation of pain induced narcissistic poetry.  I spend the meeting acutely aware of not making any sudden movements in fear I might be stabbed with a black biro.

b) Enter scene.  Group of young hip creatives welcome me to their spiritual endeavour to enhance their writing through intense meditation and prayer.  They smile a lot more than could be considered humanly reasonable and offer only encouragement, love and positive energy to every piece of overindulged prose that enters the room.  My short story on death is less than well received and I am assured by said group that as I read, the room became darker and negativity sparked across the walls.  I sit quietly amidst suspicious stares wondering if I’m a diabolical sinner.  I also frown a lot at the lights, cheeky buggers.

c)  Enter scene.  Group of high end novelists, script writers and multi-published authors look me up and down over the rims of their D&G glasses, before resuming talk over their latest book release parties and the celebrity guests that were rude enough not to rsvp.  They scoff impertinently at my lack of writing credentials and squint their eyes at me when I tell them I have not been paid for anything I’ve had published, as if they distrust me and the low end scum I’ve obviously been associating with.  I go home and burn everything I’ve ever written.

As you can see, I was fairly tormented by these visions.  Essentially it came down to wanting to fit into a group of like minded people.  I wanted feedback on my writing, but only positive feedback when it was warranted.  I wanted constructive criticism, but not so much as to be discouraged to never write again.  And I wanted to benefit from a group of people with more experience than me, but also be able to help those with less experience, and share hardships and success with those at a similar stage in their writing endeavours.

So terrorised and all, I grew some proverbial balls and decided that if I was serious about all this writing business, it was time to stop dipping my toes in the water and just dive in.  So I did.  And boy am I lucky I did.  Last night I met some of the most interesting, intelligent and varied group of people/writers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  As we all introduced ourselves I was inspired by their experiences and their success, their sincerity and their enthusiasm.  Everyone was there for a different reason, but all were there to improve their writing, share their experience and be a part of a group of like minded people.  Jess, Ralph, Fiona, Peter, Marjorie, Josie, Penny, Chris, Liz and Ian, thank you for welcoming me to your group with open arms, for the support you offer each other in your writing aspirations, and for firmly squashing my comical fear of joining a writers’ group.  I can’t wait for the next meeting.

If any one is considering joining a writers group I would recommend just giving it a go.  Some of the larger towns have many to choose from, but you can usually (at least in Australia) track them down by joining your state or local Writers’ Centre.  The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre was where I found this little gem of a group listed, and they also send out a valuable fortnightly ecalendar with the various writing activities, workshops, news, competitions and awards happening across the nation.

Tasmanians aren't so scary after all

~storytelling nomad~

On non-existent plots and an ill-fated writing goal

Day 8 of National Young Writers’ Month and I thought one week in is as good as any for an update.  My 3 goals, as detailed in my earlier post, Go Go Gadget, Write!, were to: Blog every day, join a writers’ group and outline the plot for my novel in preparation for this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Blogging every day: Check.  Join a writers’ group: First meeting tonight – Check.  Outline plot: Big fat FAIL.  I’m struggling something chronic with this goal, and although I’ve made ‘progress’, in a sense, it’s just not turning out how I’d like, which is ultimately discouraging and therefore counter-productive.

My problem is this.  I have an idea.  I think it’s a pretty good idea. I have my character, a special ‘ability’ and a world to create around her.  But I have no plot.  No rising action.  No climax.  No falling action.  No conflict.  I can see my character in this world and the things around her, I know she’s special, but I don’t know what she’s fighting for.  Is this a sign I should give up now? Let it go? Start afresh with something new?

I understand the conventions of a good fantasy – characters going from ordinary to extraordinary, good vs evil, the anti hero, destinies, prophecies, isolation.  And the fantasies I love most are the ones with multi layered plots, a universal theme, an underlying task to achieve as well as smaller tasks to carry the protagonist through, individual character agendas, secrets and surprises.  I love endings, god how I love good endings.  So, naturally, this is what I want my book to read like too.   Did J.K. Rowling, she who ties everything together superbly over a massive seven books, did she work out these things before she began writing or just start with a boy finding out he’s a wizard, and work out the rest as she went?

Perhaps I could just start by writing my character in a scene and see where she takes me.  Or do I need to have some resemblance of the nitty gritty figured out before I dive in?  Do I need to know the evil, need to know my Voldemort before I can start writing?  I’ve read that people will often scrap a large majority of their drafts before they get to the final masterpiece.  Is this the reason why? Because they are fleshing out the story as they go and don’t really know where it will end up when they begin?

These are the questions I ask myself today.  Perhaps they are also questions that I will ask at the writers’ group tonight.  In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and panic, possibly bang my head against the wall a few times, and hope that my good idea will not be stuck inside my head forever without the plot to let it shine.

~storytelling nomad~