Best Australian Blogs Competition

Storytelling Nomad has been nominated in the Sydney Writers’ Centre’s 2012 Best Australian Blogs competition!

I’ve been overwhelmed with the support, feedback and enthusiasm from all my readers since Storytelling Nomad was conceived early last year, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have you all here with me sharing a love of reading, writing, books and nomadic tendencies. While an award would be of course be amazing, ultimately I don’t need it to tell me that good things have been happening here at Storytelling Nomad.

11 months has seen over 27,000 hits, 937 followers including 326 WordPress subscribers, 2,322 comments, 156 posts and lots of new friendships made. Really, I couldn’t be happier.

That said, if you like what you’ve seen here I’d of course love your support. You don’t have to be an Aussie to vote, you just need to click here, or on the voting icon above, find Storytelling Nomad on the list (you have to click ‘next’ a few of times to get to the S’s) and put a tick in the box. In doing so, you will have increased my chances of winning the People’s Choice Award, which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is the most prestigious!

As you can only vote once, make sure you tick any other blogs you would like to support for the award before submitting on the final page. There are some fantastic Aussie blogs out there (Dodging Commas & Love the Bad Guy to name but two), so do the right thing and support us all the way down here in the land Down Under!

We don’t bite, promise.

I leave you with a few of the most popular posts as voted by your comments and views over the last 11 months. In no particular order:

How to Choose a Pseudonym

Heroes and Heroines: Females in Fantasy

The Dangers of Ebook World Domination

Great Sentences

10 Christmas Presents for Book Lovers

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

Advertisements

Great Sentences

For my upcoming Masters in Creative Writing class, we have been asked to think about great sentences. Books, movies, articles, blogs, newspapers: It doesn’t matter the format, only the mastery, the prominence, the significance of the sentence itself.

I love this task. I often find myself reading a book and thinking “I wish I wrote that sentence!” and dog-ear the page just so I can go back and goggle at it again later.  Sometimes, if I can be bothered and I’m not so wrapped up in the story that I can spare a moment to find a pen and paper, I’ll write the sentence down, hoping that it might ingrain in me some ingenuity to later reproduce something of a similar standard.

Of course, I don’t know that it actually works like that. It’s not really a case of being able to swap a few words to make it your own, so much as recognising the combination of elements that just, well, work.

I find classic literature to be a treasure trove of great sentences, largely due to the fact that back in the day insults were so very cleverly disguised with words so charming and beautiful, such as Shakespeare’s, “Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile”, or Oscar Wilde’s “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever…”  Mostly, however, I love classic literature because the language in general was just so damn spectacular.

The sentence I picked is from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. 

I remember Mr Hubble as a tough high-shouldered stooping old man, of a sawdusty fragrance, with his legs extraordinarily wide apart: so that in my short days I always saw some miles of open country between them when I met him coming up the lane.

Honestly, does a sentence get any better than that? It evokes such a vivid image for me, as well as a subtle humour that intensifies its appeal. That, and I can’t help but love Dickens’ use of punctuation. Some of his sentences go on and on with so many commas and semi colons (see the opening to a Tale of Two Cities for further evidence of this) in such a way that I can’t help but marvel at the dexterity of it all.

But Dickens isn’t the only master of great sentences. Austen’s opening sentence to Pride and Prejudice is typically ranked at the top of the ‘greatest first sentences of all time’ lists. And for good reason:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

It would take many hours to list all my favourite sentences from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but this one from The Return of the King is quite beautiful:

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

Despite the countless times I recall thinking “what a great sentence!” I’d be hard pressed to remember them all now.  If nothing else, this task has reminded me that I really do need to write these things down, just so I can find them again easily later.

What are your favourite sentences?

2012 National Year of Reading

Those of you who have been here a while know that I’m a bit of a book-a-holic. I read books as often as I breathe the free air, which is always, in case you wondered.

While this addiction has not always had the full support of my bank account, or my poor bag, which has spent many an outing weighed down by bricks disguised cleverly as novels cough-Wheel of Time-cough, I have always considered it an obsession worthy of the pursuit.

Reading improves analytical thinking, increases vocabulary, encourages creativity, and my all-time favourite, takes you to other worlds where you not only fight wars, win battles and have wild adventures from the comfort of your favourite armchair, but where you can also relax and be distracted from the real world chaos that you sometimes just need to escape.

Yep, reading is pretty groovy, kids.

That’s why this year I’m supporting the 2012 National Year of Reading. While it may be an Australian run initiative, I don’t see why the rest of the world can’t join in.

So, what’s it all about? I hear you ask…

The National Year of Reading 2012 is about children learning to read and keen readers finding new sources of inspiration. It’s about supporting reading initiatives while respecting the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s about helping people discover and rediscover the magic of books.

There are loads of events taking place throughout the year to promote this noble endeavour, but I’ve decided to set myself a reading challenge, which I hope you’ll participate in with me.

As an already active reader, I thought I’d up the ante and set myself a reading target. I’m a fairly fast reader if I have days to spare and nothing else to do (though that rarely stops me), but as most of you will probably understand, life often gets in the way of finding a bit of quiet time to sit down and get lost in other worlds. Cooking, cleaning, work, studies, friends, sleep: they’re all pretty good excuses, but if we put our minds to it, I think we can do better.

Last year I read just over 30 books, so this year I’ve set myself the goal of 52. One a week for the whole year. Some people will scoff at the number and say “that’s nothing!” Others will say, “don’t be ridiculous, that’s impossible.”  What’s important is you pick a number that suits you, but also challenges you. A number that makes you turn off the television and pick up a book instead. A number that has you listening to Stephen Fry reading you Harry Potter in the car on the way to work. A number that will make you read more, but which is also realistically achievable.

It may be 10, it may be 100.

I’ve set up a page to record my progress, which you’ll see a link to at the top of each page, titled “2012 National Year of Reading“.

Goodreads is also on board. If you go to their 2012 Challenge Goal page, you can enter in how many books you’d like to read by the end of the year. Every time you finish one and enter it into Goodreads, your widget will update and tell you whether you’re on target or how many books behind you are. I’m currently 2 books behind, thanks to George RR Martin’s whopper of a series!

You can also see how many participants there are (currently 201,744) and how many books have been pledged (12,164,418!!).

So get involved, readers! Let’s make 2012 the year we exercise our brains, get smarter, get creative and support reading worldwide. And don’t forget to keep me updated on your progress. I want to hear all about your reading endeavours.

Happy Reading!

P.S. If you’re looking for inspiration, The Book Depository is currently offering 10% off everything, with free delivery worldwide.

The 11 Commandments – for writers

Henry Miller

Fellow Aussie, writer, student and author of The Blue Cathedral, Cameron Hindrum, was kind enough to share this link with our Masters’ class recently. I think Henry Miller’s very wise 11 Commandments are worthy of consideration for any writer, new and old.  I could definitely pay a little more heed to number 4!

What commandment do you have the most difficulty sticking to when writing?

THE 11 COMMANDMENTS
à la Henry Miller
  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. ConcentrateNarrow downExclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a very Happy Easter. May it be filled with loved ones, far too much chocolate, and lots of literary goodness. After all, if the Easter bunny has time to read, then so do you!

~

Watercolour by Amber Alexander

XYZ is for the End of a Journey

Yes, I’m cheating. I could have made X is for Xylophone, Y is for Yazee and Z is for Zebra, but I’m not going to.  Truth be told, I didn’t play a Xylophone, scream “Yazee!” or even see a zebra whilst travelling.

And XYZ really is such a poetic metaphor for ‘the end’, don’t you think?

On December 30th 2011, I left for a European holiday. It was the first time in a good long while that I’d travelled not for study or for research, but for me.  Five countries in four weeks proved exhausting, but also incredibly gratifying.  Exploring new places, visiting old friends, and indulging in foreign food, cultures and people made a recipe for wonderful experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

But the end of a journey is bitter sweet. The excitement of getting home to your own bed and the joy at seeing family and friends is coupled with the realisation that amazing experiences have now come to a close, and reality awaits.

Castles, canals, and home-made lasagne from your Italian host-mother are replaced with work, study and Vegemite on toast*.  And before long, a week has passed. Two weeks. Three. And then it all just seems like a faraway dream; something you did a long, long time ago.

Thankfully I have this A-Z series of posts to now look back on and remember what wonderful experiences were had, and I thank you all for keenly following this travel memoir-come-nostalgic holiday journal with me.

It’s now been two months since I returned to Australia, but already I feel like it all happened a lifetime ago.

This trip allowed me to start 2012 with a bang, but with so much planned for the year ahead, I intend to finish it with a bang too.  I am now 6 weeks into my Masters in Creative Writing course where I am actually holy-shit-scaringly penning my first fantasy novel. It’s new and it’s terrifying, but I’m using the explorations and experiences of my trip to fuel it… and I hope you will stick along for the ride.

For now I leave you with my Top 10 Travel Memories. If you’d like to see a list of the whole series, hover your mouse over the ‘About Katy’ link at the top of the page for the drop down link.

Happy reading, minions!

10. Watching the Scottish Ballet perform Sleeping Beauty.

9. Walking the cobbled stone streets of the Ancient Town of Rye.

8. Getting lost in Venice.

7. Exploring London on a sunny winter’s day.

6. Drinking hot chocolate at The Elephant Cafe, à la JK Rowling style.

5. Meeting up with my childhood best friend after 17 years.

4. Listening to live celtic folk music in an Edinburgh pub.

3. Being greeted at a Hamburg train station by my brother holding a Hawain garland and waving a German flag.

2. Arriving by night to the lights and Christmas markets of beautiful Krakow, Poland.

1. Seeing Edinburgh Castle for the very first time.

* I secretly missed my Vegemite on toast breakfast ritual. Shhh!