Back to the 80s: V is for The Vapors.

Once again we’re back for another round in my Back to the 80s Challenge and gradually working our way down to the end of the list.

Before jumping in though, recently I was extremely fortunate to see my all time favourite band of any era – Midnight Oil. They were, as expected, absolutely brilliant and I haven’t come down from the ceiling as yet (could take a few days). Anyway, back to the challenge and this week we’re down to the letter V.

Formed in the UK in 1978, The Vapors were discovered by one of the band members of The Jam and were offered to support them during one of their tours a year later. Their first single was released in 1979, but failed to chart. Their second single ‘Turning Japanese’, reached the top three in the UK, as well as becoming a hit in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The song appeared on their debut album New Clear Days. Two more singles later made it into the UK Singles Chart and they released another album in 1981. The band broke up in 1982, believed to be due to a lack of support from their record label.

Other bands formed or who had hits in the 1980s starting with the letter V include:- Van Halen.

What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter V can you think of? Have you seen any good bands recently?

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Writing: A Change in Direction.

For the past few months, I have been submitting short stories to competitions. I have been doing this on and off over a number of years and despite the continual knock backs, I have been successful once. Perhaps this is why I continue to persevere; after all, when it comes to writing, we do have to be in this for the long haul. However, there also comes a time when we have to admit when something isn’t working and need to consider our alternatives.

It was very timely, therefore that I read a couple of posts by Kristen Lamb Pay the Writer 2 – Out Hustle the Hustlers and Writing Exposure – Gamble or Grift? that got me thinking. The rules of publishing these days have changed. Many writers like myself are of the old belief that if we write and get exposure we are helping to build our CV. This will eventually lead to work coming our way. These days, however, the old rules no longer apply and that older way of thinking can be a bit hard to shake off.

The reality is that by sending my work out to competitions, I’m still waiting for that ‘validation’ for the gatekeepers to accept me. Because I allow my fear and insecurity to hold me back, I need someone to tell me whether I’m good enough for this game and each rejection adds to those insecurities. At the same time, though, those knock backs are a good way to help develop that thick skin. We keep holding on for that win. But the competition is fierce and the win may never come.

Writing for exposure is fine when writing is a hobby, but when it comes to taking your writing seriously and being paid for it, we may need to be a bit more selective. We should be the ones benefiting from our writing and not giving our work away so freely in order to benefit others. My one and only ‘win’ at least taught me that there can indeed be benefits.

One of my beta readers suggested I compile my short stories and self-publish. I’ve been thinking of doing exactly that for some time, but it is fear that is preventing me from doing so. I know that I have now reached a point in my writing where self-publishing is the road I will be travelling. It’s a long road and to begin with it’s going to be pretty rough. In the end though, I do believe that the journey will be worth it. So, who’s with me?

Does fear and insecurity hold you back? Will you be going down the path of self-publishing? If you’re self-published, has it turned out better than you expected? Have you won any writing competitions? Have you become more selective when it comes to your writing?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Do You Finish Your NaNo Projects?

It’s the start of another month, so it’s time once again for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG), a blog hop to share and encourage other writers.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times (failed once, succeeded twice) and the end result has always been one giant mess. I guess that’s the purpose of the whole exercise though isn’t it? Just get the words written down!

To be perfectly honest, I have not finished any of my NaNoWriMo projects. I start with a rough outline and let the characters determine how they wish to get there. Last year’s efforts, although incomplete, has been the best so far when it comes to re-writes (so I might just be getting better). Only a few short months ago I went over it and can see the potential in it, so that is one I will keep working on.

Recently, I began working on the re-writes of one of my other NaNoWriMo projects, however as I began working, I soon discovered it was in dire need of an overhaul. The more I looked into it, the more questions arose. I wanted to know more about my characters backgrounds, which in turn made the project bigger than it was before. The more research I undertook, the more possibilities opened for both plot and character development. Overwhelmed, I decided to begin by writing a short story for one of my major characters. I felt the need to take a small step backwards in order to move forward.

This year, although I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo, I will be working on one of my previous efforts. I have a bit of a backlog to finish and tidy up before it comes around again next year. Participating has certainly been worth it; even though I have been left with a bit of a mess, I at least have something to work with and know what my limitations are.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you the very best of luck!

Do you finish your NaNoWriMo projects? Will you be participating this year? Do you have a back-log of projects to complete? What have you learned about yourself as a writer after doing NaNoWriMo?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Back to the 80s: U is for U2

It’s time once again for my Back to the 80s challenge and now that we’re getting closer to the end, we’re reaching the letters of the alphabet that really will be a challenge!

This time around is a band that became a huge success in the 1980s and another band that I was fortunate to see live. Back in the day, they were one of my favourites, but personally, they reached a point where musically, I eventually lost all interest (hey, it happens sometimes).

U2 were formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1976 and released their first album Boy in 1980. The album received positive reviews and they released the album October a year later. The album War was released in 1983 and the single ‘New Year’s Day’ was to become the band’s first hit outside of the U.K. They toured Europe and the U.S, which resulted in their live album Under a Blood Red Sky. The album Unforgettable Fire was released in 1984, which was successful in the U.S and became No.1 in the U.K. The single ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’, became their biggest hit and the band performed at the Live Aid concert in 1985, with a television audience estimated of 2 billion people. It would help establish what Rolling Stone magazine labelled as ‘the band of the 80s’ that same year.

Their fifth album, The Joshua Tree, was released in 1987 and was critically acclaimed. It went to No.1 in over twenty countries and won two Grammy Awards. A year later, the album Rattle and Hum was released and reached No.1 world wide. Over the years, U2 would go on to release eight more albums, tour extensively, become one of the most best-selling artists in history and be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This song was my favourite from their very early years and I recall a different clip. But oh dear, Bono’s hair in this one – so very 80s! 😉

Other bands formed or who had hits in the 1980s starting with the letter U include:- Ultravox, Uncanny X-Men, UB40, Underworld.

Have you ever lost interest in certain bands when they change musical direction? What were some of your favourite bands during the 1980s? What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter U can you think of?

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Revisiting Halloween.

Recently I viewed the original Halloween movie, which is timed perfectly for this year’s Halloween (even though we don’t celebrate it here in Australia). It’s one of those films that I enjoy watching every now and again and I just love the theme music. Totally!

After having done some film studies at University, I’ve become a bit more aware of the tropes within horror movies. It seems to be the stock in trade, which is why it was so good to see successful spoof films such as Scream and Cabin in the Woods. Totally!

I found it quite remarkable that for such a suburban setting, the streets seem deserted and people just ignore Jamie Lee’s cries for help (isolation – check). You also have to have the sexually active young girls getting the chop, because in the end it always comes down to the ‘final girl’. And like all good ‘boogie-men’, Michael Myers can’t be stopped no matter how many times you may injure him and bring him down (even to be shot at and fall out a window), the guy just keeps on coming. I mean, how else are we supposed to have sequels?

And yes, who could ever forget the theme music, because like Jaws, it just sticks in your mind? To me it sounds like the approach of impending doom while you race against the clock, because after all, the boogie man strikes at Halloween. And as a writer, I like to listen to it every now and again to help build up some atmosphere in my own writing. 😉

Maybe I’ll sit and watch it with my kids over the coming weekend. They’ve sat through Aliens, so surely, they can handle Michael! But then, ‘boogie-men’ never really die, do they?

To those of you who celebrate it – Happy Halloween!

Have you been watching some old movie favourites lately? What horror movies do you watch at this time of year? Have you watched any of the Halloween sequels?

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Back to the 80s: T is for Tears for Fears.

Once again we’re jumping back into my Back to the 80s Challenge and we’re moving ever so closer to the finish line.

For this part of the challenge we’ve come to a band that I introduced to my kids a couple of years ago, and my daughter seemed to appreciate them at the time (yes, you have to introduce your kids to good music from an early age. 😉 )

Tears For Fears were formed in England in 1981 and had success with their third single ‘Mad World’ in 1982. Their first album was released a year later, reaching platinum status and became successful in other countries. It wasn’t until the release of the single ‘Shout’ from their second album Songs From the Big Chair in 1984, that the band reached international fame. The album also included the hits ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ and ‘Head over Heels’. Their third album The Seeds of Love was released in 1989 and was another world-wide hit. The band split in 1991 where they pursued solo careers, only to reform in 2000.

‘Shout’ was the song that my daughter favoured the most (as do I). So did a lot of people in fact, as the song went on to become one of the most recognisable songs of the 1980s.

Other bands formed or who had hits in the 1980s starting with the letter T include:- Talking Heads, Thompson Twins, The The, The Clash, The Triffods, TISM.

What is one of most recognisable songs of the 1980s for you? Have you introduced music from your childhood down to your own children? What other bands of the 1980s that begin with the letter T can you think of?

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Walk Away From Toxic People.

As writers, we need to develop a thick skin when it comes to rejection. The more we expose our writing to others, the more we learn to ‘toughen up’, realising that it is in fact, our writing and not ourselves that is being judged. However, there is also the rejection on a more personal level that we need to be aware of; being surrounded by people who are negative when it comes to our writing goals or just us in general.

Recently, I had such a wake-up call. Unfortunately, I’ve been down this road before once too often, even a long time ago (and is the spark of one of my works in progress) and once again, involves people closest to me. I’ve taken hit after hit for so long that I am reminded of this famous quote:-

It is because they are so close, that we endure their negativity, their bullying and even their desire to ignore us. No matter how hard we may try, sometimes people cannot change what they don’t acknowledge. However, there comes a time where we can only take so much and tell ourselves enough is enough. We need to do this in order to gain some level of self-respect. Sometimes we have to walk away from the negatives in our lives, and that can include certain people. It’s not always easy, but it is necessary for our own happiness and peace of mind.

So how do you overcome the pain of rejection? Focus on the positive; surround yourself with like-minded people and those who encourage you, do things that make you happy, listen to music, exercise. Use such negative experiences and turn them into positives by focusing on what you can do to improve your writing goals and/or yourself as a person. Enrol in courses, join the gym, find ways to further your employment prospects.

Perhaps it goes down to that old saying ‘nice guys finish last’ because it always seems to be the nice guys that get walked on – or perhaps it’s just that I’m not a narcissist. 😉 Unfortunately, rejection is a part of life. How we deal with it is one of the many ways we learn to grow and such blows can make us stronger when facing that next challenge.

Have you experienced rejection at a personal level? How do you overcome rejection? Have you had to pull away from friends and/or family for your own peace of mind?

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