A Visit to the Versailles Exhibition, Canberra.

key-to-versaillesOver the Christmas holidays, my family and I spent a few days in Canberra; we had arranged to visit the Versailles Exhibition. Some months previously, I had been watching Season 1 of the series Versailles and have been thoroughly enjoying it, so I jumped at the opportunity to catch a first-hand glimpse of what life was like within the palace walls (who knows how long it will be until I get to see the place in its entirety?)

hall-of-mirrors-lightThe opulence struck me immediately, which I suppose was always its original intent. A bust and various portraits of King Louis were just some examples of his self-indulgence (after all he did call himself the ‘sun king’). Despite the fact that on a personal level, the style of that period is not to my liking, I did not fail to appreciate the craftsmanship and level of detail that were involved in the objects on display.

There are numerous paintings, including family portraits and pictures depicting scenes of the exterior of the palace throughout its various stages. There are also various items of furniture, as well as tapestries and rugs – some of which had never been used. The exhibition marie-antoinette-harpdoes not neglect the palace grounds, for on display are various sculptures and water features, including sculptures once belonging in the children’s garden depicting animals from Aesop’s fables.

I spent the longest amount of time in the last room of the display; the room showing items that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. I had learnt back in High School about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, read A Tale of Two Cities (and I always, always, always cry at the end of the movie with Dirk Bogarde) and could understand why the people rebelled. However, it was not until I had seen all these items first hand (which are only just a small amount of items coming from the palace of Versailles) that I understood it better. I don’t blame the people for having a revolution, yet at the same time seeing that the king and queen were living in some kind of bubble. It was a situation that could hardly be sustainable.

marie-antoinette-itemsHave you visited the Versailles exhibition? Have you visited the palace itself? What did you think? Have you had a better understanding on a certain period in history once you have seen some of it yourself? What did you do over the Christmas holidays?

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Header image courtesy Ticketek, other images by Debbie Johansson.

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#IWSG: What Writing Rule Do You Wish You’d Never Heard?

heart-480367_1280It’s time once again for this month’s post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. A different question is asked each month, where your answers are shared and you encourage others who are struggling. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, so if you’re interested, you can join here.

For this month’s question, it took me a while to come up with one writing rule in particular that I wish I had never heard; after all there are quite a few rules to wade through. Author Anne R Allen has written a blog post about writing rules that can (and should) be broken, and has even added to the list in a further post. So I guess rules are meant to be broken. 😉

The one rule that stood out the most to me was the rule of ‘write what you know’. That is one rule which I’ve always been conflicted about. Writing what you know is a good starting point for beginners, but writing what you know can, let’s face it, get a little bit boring. I’m sure there are many events in my life that would make people want to claw the walls if they ever read about it, yet there have also been moments that can be used to write about.

So I was glad to see some years ago one writer stating that instead of writing what you know, writers should write what you want to know about. It makes sense, after all, there are professions and periods in history for example that we may not have experienced, but would like to write about. We need to grow as writers and research for our stories becomes a part of that learning process. Perhaps when it comes to the ‘write what you know’ rule, it really applies to our emotions. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a whole gamut of emotions throughout our lives, which would help build our characters and strike an emotional response with our readers.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeMay I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but 2016 felt like it was never going to end and yeah, there were times when it really did suck. I’ve got some high hopes for 2017 (positivity is key, people) and I hope you do too. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come!

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? Being a writer, are you happy to ignore some of the rules and experiment? Did you accomplish any of your writing goals in 2016? What do you have planned for the New Year?

Side Note: I’ll be away from my computer for a few days in early February, due to a short stint in hospital, so I will be unable to post for the IWSG next month. All going well, I will return to posting for the ISWG in March. 🙂

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Lessons Learnt from NaNoWriMo, 2016

typewriter-801921_1280Once again this year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and was fortunate to make it all the way to the finish line. There were a couple of moments when panic began to set in and I wondered if I was going to make it at all! Looking back on NaNoWriMo this year, there were three very important lessons that I managed to take away from the whole experience.

Less time on social media helps you to focus.

The more time I spent writing and less time on social media, I became more focused on my WIP and found myself less distracted. From having only 30 days in which to write as much as you possibly can, every minute counts. Because I spent less time on social media, at the end of each day I felt I had achieved something – which was making more progress towards the goal of 50,000 words. Now that NaNoWriMo has finished, I continue to spend less time on social media, making me feel more relaxed and more focused upon my writing goals.

Writing is the No.1 Priority.

Doing NaNoWriMo and concentrating upon that one writing project made me realise that writing is my No.1 priority (as it should be). As I am easily distracted, social media shows me what other writers are doing towards their goals, while allowing me to lose focus upon my own. Doing NaNoWriMo has allowed me to re-focus, prioritise and work on my own path towards publication.

Writing 50,000 words a month is do-able.

The thought of writing so much is initially daunting, especially for those writers like me who are used to writing shorter works. When I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, I found some things which helped me enormously in getting the words down. The thing about NaNoWriMo is to get you into the habit of writing on a regular basis and trying to meet deadlines. These are habits writers must learn in order to become professional.

I have already decided not to participate in NaNoWriMo next year as I now have a couple of NaNoWriMo projects that need a lot of re-working (adding to the pile of all the other projects I want to get through 😉 ).

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and enjoy your holidays! I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

merry-christmas-australia-1Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? What did you learn from the experience? Did you make it to the finish line? Do you plan on taking up the challenge again next year?

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Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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#IWSG: Where Do You See Yourself Five Years From Now?

sparkler-677774_1280It’s time once again for this month’s post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. A different question is asked each month, where your answers are shared and you encourage others who are struggling. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, so if you’re interested, you can join here.

As the year is heading to a close and we’re about to see in another year, this months’ question is appropriate. It’s one that, as writers, we need to consider every year. When it comes to making long term plans, sometimes life can get in the way, steers us off course and before we know it, time has passed us by.

So in terms of writing, where do I see myself five years from now? The answer to that is: published. That has always been the goal for me. Unfortunately, fear has prevented me from doing so, long before now. I’ll be honest with you; I’ve let fear and the negativity of others prevent me from moving forward.

So, how do I plan to get there? By writing like crazy (and yes, writing can make us a bit that way at times too 😉 )!

computingI have some incomplete novels, novelettes/novellas and short stories waiting to be worked on. I also have a list of story ideas that have been waiting (some impatiently) to be told and there is always the new shiny idea that is prepared to show itself. So, as it stands, the ideas are there, they just need to be written or improved upon.

I plan to start getting published by sending out my short stories. My husband has read over them for me recently, and believes with a little bit of tweaking, they will be good to go (one he says can be sent out already). This is just the first step in swallowing that fear in letting others read my writing and I’m hoping to find some other beta readers before I hit that ‘send’ button. This will, I hope give me the courage to begin the road to self-publication.

mouse-stressOf-course, there is also a lot of reading to be done to help improve my craft, as well as attending courses and conferences, learning as much as I can about the publishing industry and being part of a writing community.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThe road to publication is a long one, which is why in order to succeed we need to be in this for the long haul. As the industry changes so rapidly these days, we must also be adaptable and that can sometimes include our writing goals.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now? What’s your plan to get there? Do you stick to your New Year Resolutions?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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#IWSG: What Is Your Favourite Aspect of Being a Writer?

take-532097_1280It’s time once again for this month’s post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. A different question is asked each month, where your answers are shared and you encourage others who are struggling. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, so if you’re interested, you can join here.

There are many good things about being a writer; choosing your own hours, working wherever you want, but my favourite aspect of being a writer has to be telling the stories you need to tell. It’s those voices in your head that tell you what to write, which helps determine what genre/s to write in and how you need to go about telling them. Sure, friends and family tend to give us strange looks or even a wide berth, but we’re fortunate enough not to be considered strange enough to be placed in a padded cell – well, at least not yet, anyway.

minionvoicesIt’s the spark of an idea that comes to you through experience; from something you see, hear or read, through an issue that you feel passionate about. It’s the idea of being able to create people’s lives, places and whole new worlds within our imaginations. Our imagination lights up and fires our creative souls to produce something you hope others will appreciate. In short, it’s the joy of creating something we see in our minds eye and moulding it into shape through the use of words. The best part of being a writer is to give those voices free reign; after all everyone has a story to tell – even those voices within your own head. 😉

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeWithout a doubt I’ll be giving free reign to the voices in my head this month by yet again participating in NaNoWriMo. I’ve been busy doing my preparations, so I’m eager to get started (just don’t expect to see too much of me around here for a while)!

What is your favourite aspect of being a writer? Do you enjoy the writing process? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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How Pinterest Can Help You Plan Your Novel.

pinterest-793051_1280I was a late-comer when it came to joining Pinterest. I was a bit dubious at the thought and found it was a case of ‘not another social network’. When I did eventually join I soon found it to be quite useful; especially when it came to planning a novel.

Recently, I have been working on writing my first novella (or is that a novelette?), and in order to help me ‘see’ what I was writing, I created a secret board. I scoured the internet for pictures of my setting, characters and various articles for research. Once I began doing this, I had a better understanding about my characters (especially my protagonist) and the world in which they live. The only downside to gathering pictures on Pinterest however, is like any other form of research – it can become time-consuming. You get so caught up in it, that the writing side can become sadly neglected.

I currently have about half a dozen secret boards for various works in progress, including the novel I will be working on for NaNoWriMo this year. Just like my novella, I have found having a secret Pinterest board of great help in the planning process. It has helped me to work on my protagonist, as well as establish a time period and location. I have gathered quotes that focus on my protagonist’s state of mind at the beginning of the novel and have a picture I find to be applicable for a book cover. Having a book cover, like a working title, gives you something to focus on while you write your novel as it allows you to keep your theme in mind. Having a secret Pinterest board is a great way to keep you motivated, especially during those times when your enthusiasm starts to wane.

Pinterest has become a popular social network amongst writers and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great addition to researching our stories and provides motivation and an audience at the same time.

Are you on Pinterest? Do you use Pinterest to help research your novels? Do you have secret boards? How do you use Pinterest?

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 Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Time Travel: Would You Go Backwards or Forwards in Time?

back-in-time-rose-1706449_1280If I could travel through time, I wouldn’t hesitate in going back in time; reliving my carefree days as a kid or even venturing to a different time period altogether, just for a day. Personally, I wouldn’t care for travelling forwards in time. Having two kids, I naturally worry for their future and I don’t like the way this planet is heading. Besides, travelling to the future takes all the mystery out of it, and I guess I’ll get there eventually. 😉

I’ve always been a sucker for the past. I guess from an early age I continuously romanticised it. Whenever visiting old towns and houses in and around Sydney as a child, I liked to imagine what life was like back then. My childhood fantasies fired my imagination and elicited a life-long interest in history. From the ancients and medieval times to the Victorian era and the 1950s, there were very few periods in history that I didn’t wish to find out more about. I absorbed what the teachers taught us throughout school and I had no hesitation in choosing history subjects at University level as my electives. To travel back in time I hold no illusions though; the days of early medicine before anaesthetics and just being a woman in general was a tough life, but the past fascinates me and we can learn so much from it – there have even been reality television shows based on this very premise.

As a writer, the past has always been an endless source of inspiration for me. Travelling back in time and really living the experience would make the best possible research material for our stories, don’t you think?

If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or the past? Why? Is there a period in history that you like best?

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 Image courtesy of Pixabay

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