Life Lessons · This Writer's Life

A Slow Start to 2019.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas and relaxing break. I know mine has been so relaxing, I’m finding it difficult to get back into my writing (including blogging). 😉

Just before Christmas, my household had no internet (I know, great timing), and we went without it for about sixteen days. The kids weren’t quite climbing the walls, as they were aware of the issues. They managed to survive alright though! This is where I managed to relax and catch up on podcasts and watch some DVDs.

Just when I thought I could get back into writing once again, the temperatures began to rise, and I began to get sick. After a few days of abdominal pain, I spent some time in hospital, was told I was very dehydrated and had undergone a variety of tests. My health improved about a week later after taking some antibiotics.

The main take away from this experience was that sometimes life throws us some unexpected curve balls. We have to learn to adjust and be flexible (and in this case, I had to be more careful with my health). I had all my plans for the year worked out and ready to go, but I needed to take a step back for a little while. Now I’m getting back into it, slowly but surely. Which is also a very good reminder that when it comes to writing, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

I’ve tried to lower my expectations a bit this year, but as usual, I can’t resist making some big plans, such as losing weight, attending the RWA Australia conference in Melbourne and self-publishing. Sometimes having big plans can not only help us to stay motivated to achieve our goals, but also help us to get out of our comfort zones.

It’s hard to believe we are half way through January already! Let’s get moving! 🙂

Did you have a relaxing Christmas/New Year break? What are your plans for 2019?

Main image courtesy of Unsplash

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This Writer's Life · Writing

What Would You Have Done Differently in 2018?

Towards the end of 2017, I concluded that if I could do it all again, I would have written more during that year. I needed to remove a lot of distractions, especially those that I could control, mainly the internet and social media.

So, what about this year? When it comes to 2018, I’ve done a few short writing courses, began setting some boundaries (which has been very liberating), joined the Romance Writers of Australia (where I think I’ve finally found my ‘tribe’) and stepped out of my comfort zone by writing an 80k paranormal romance.

And it is with that last point, the 80k novel, that gives me pause for thought. This novel (where I still need to come up with a title), I had basically spent the entire year writing, which in this era of instant gratification is far too long. Stephen King recommends about three months, which I think is reasonable, provided of-course you have your plot well sorted out beforehand. I thought I did, but I wasn’t happy with it, so I started all over again. I learned the hard way that this story idea needed more time to simmer.

So basically in 2018, I should have written faster. The only way I believe I can really achieve that is to work harder on those distractions, stop with my perfectionism as well as stop thinking so much and just do it! Our time is short enough as it is without worrying about the little things. Self-doubt has plagued me for so long, that there are times it can be crippling and that is why it was so good to remove some of those boundaries. It’s been a long, slow process, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere.

Of-course, I did not self-publish this year, however, I’ve been reading up about the subject, done a short course through RWA and have been looking into copy-editors and cover designers, as well as coming up with some kind of plan. There’s a lot to self-publishing and I want to make sure I make as few mistakes as possible (yes, that’s the perfectionist in me talking once again). Either way, I will be making the plunge in 2019 (takes deep breaths)!

So that’s the year that was and my hopes for the year ahead.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Christmas and enjoy your holidays. Thank you so much for reading and being a part of my blogging community. I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year. Let’s make it a good one! 🙂

As you look back on 2018, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently? Have you learnt something about yourself this year? What are your plans for 2019?

Images courtesy of Unsplash

Movies/Television

Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.

Recently, I watched the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. I admit that as the show was inspired by the book by Shirley Jackson, I had my reservations. This wasn’t helped by the fact that by the end of the second episode, I really began to wonder if I would continue watching. This is because the series has a bit of a slow build, however, it didn’t pick up for me until the third episode, where I felt things were starting to get interesting. After that episode, I binged the next three. What a turn-around!

So, what happened?

The first six episodes focuses on one family member, telling their side to the story about the events that happened at Hill House and how it had affected their lives. It was Theo’s story in episode three that intrigued me and as the show progressed, it soon became apparent that it was the characters themselves that draws the viewer in, so that by the time we see Nell’s story, the viewer is seeing a horror show that makes you sad as well as scared.

The camera work in episode six is brilliantly done – apparently a seventeen-minute-long unbroken single shot and this episode demonstrates that it’s a family drama as much as it is a horror story. There were a couple of times where I actually jumped in my seat (which is rare for me these days), noticeably one of the car scenes.

This show tends to be more of a psychological horror series, than straight out horror, although it did have some truly scary moments. I’ve read that some people have even wanted to watch it again, so they could count how many ghosts there actually are!

The Haunting of Hill House is a terrific piece of television that weaves past and present narratives together with characters you soon become attached to. I mean, I couldn’t resist young Nell and Luke – they’re so cute! 🙂

Have you watched The Haunting of Hill House and what are your thoughts? Did you find the show had a bit of a slow build? Which characters did you like the most?

This Writer's Life · Writing

6 Signs You May be a Writer.

Lately, I’ve been working on my current work in progress and now I can finally say that I’ve finished!

It’s the longest piece I’ve ever done, so it has been quite a challenge. I have wrestled self-doubt and there were times when I didn’t think I would actually make it, but I finally got there. This got me thinking about the writer’s life in general and some of our special habits. 😉

You know you’re a writer when:-

1. You’d rather be with your imaginary friends than with real people.

2. You have a habit of staring out your window to solve some of your problems (or even just to daydream).

3. You keep adding books to your ‘to be read’ pile (besides, some of that is research).

4.You have a love-hate relationship with paper.

5. You collect various stationary, even if you don’t need it (but it sure looks pretty).

6. You’d rather write than be in a ‘real’ job (whether you have one or not).

What do you think are some of the special quirks of being a writer? Do you consider yourself to be a ‘slow’ writer in a fast-moving world? Have you managed to achieve your writing goals this year?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Writing · Writing Process

A Writing Update.

She’s baaack! Well, sort of. 😉

I have been absent for a few weeks and sadly, I have been neglecting my blog as well as all of you, but I have not been neglecting my current work in progress. In fact, I have become so engrossed with my current writing project, that it’s all I can think about. So, this is a quick post you keep you up to date with what’s been happening.

I’m still working on the novel I’ve been working on since earlier this year, but after writing the longest piece of writing I’ve ever done at around 80k, I was not happy with how it turned out. I went over my plot outline and reworked it so much, that I’ve basically had to start from scratch. I deleted an awful lot of words, and yes, it was painful to do, but it was completely necessary.

I began writing a paranormal and my original intention was for my protagonist’s love interest to be the antagonist (no happy ever after here, thank you very much). The thing was, that he was not happy about that at all – he wanted to be a good guy. The more I thought about it, the better my plot became, and I had a more suitable antagonist. So, okay, a paranormal romance it is then.

Now I know I wrote not that long ago, that I don’t like telling others what I’m writing; that I prefer to write with the door closed. And that’s where I will leave it; that I am still working on my work in progress and that it is a paranormal romance.

So lately I’ve been travelling in uncharted waters, but I’m having a lot of fun! And isn’t that what being a writer is all about? 😉

What have you been up to lately? How is your own writing going? Do you listen to what your characters tell you?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Movies/Television · Writing

Has Film & Television Influenced Your Writing?

Over the years, I have heard many writers discuss certain authors they grew up with and what their favourite book was during childhood and there was one or two books in particular that stands out for me. Mainly, though, I was one of those kids who had a tendency to spend a great deal of their time out of doors and involved in imaginative play, rather than keep their nose in a book. Evenings were a time spent indoors in front of the television and it was this medium that would eventually influence my writing.

My family and I would also spend a lot of time going out to the movies and the drive-in (remember them?). Once, during one of these family outings to the movies, I saw a film that would play a large part in my writing. When I was about eight years old, we saw Picnic at Hanging Rock, and because it remained a mystery, I was hooked. People don’t just disappear; there had to be an answer. This was the first time I had seen a story that did not have a clean ending. Questions remained, leaving the audience to fill in the blanks for themselves. My father bought a copy of the novel for me, which became one of my favourite books; I began to crave the unexpected plot twists and unhappy endings, knowing this was all a part of the suspense.

It wasn’t until I was about twelve years old I began reading in earnest and read just about anything I could possibly get my hands on. Because of Picnic and enjoying such television shows as The Addams Family and The Twilight Zone, as well as such films as Psycho, Rebecca and The Birds from Alfred Hitchcock, I naturally steered towards stories that scared me. Stories full of suspense which kept me guessing with what might happen next, continued to hold the greatest appeal.

It was film and television that made me a reader. And who did I start reading? Why, Stephen King, of-course! 😉

Years later, when I completed my first short story, I gave it to my husband to read, who called it ‘macabre’. When in consultation with the Director of Varuna Writer’s Centre at the time, after having read the first three chapters of a work in progress, I was told that my story reminded him of Alfred Hitchcock. Having myself compared to one of the influences of my childhood, naturally I considered this to be high praise. This, together with the ‘macabre’ label, I knew I was onto something.

After having studied film and television at University, I have learned more about the importance of genre tropes, characters and settings. The knowledge I have gained from this has been invaluable to my stories. These days, with people having shorter attention spans, film and television appears to have become even more popular (hello, Netflix).

It was the influence of film and television that helped made me both a reader and a writer; my imagination was there, all it needed was the spark.

*Side Note: Ron Howard is currently running the #20MovieChallenge on Twitter. Twenty films that have had an impact on you for twenty days – only post a pic, no film title or comment. I’m participating and also posting them onto my Instagram feed, so if you’re on Twitter or Instagram, you can check out my choices there. If you are also participating, I’d love to see your choices, so drop a link in the comments. 🙂

Has film and television ever influenced your writing? Does watching film and television help you with your chosen genre? Has watching certain movies and/or television shows influenced your choice of reading?

Main image courtesy of Pixabay

Back to the 80s · Movies/Television

Back to the 80s: The Breakfast Club.

I have a confession to make. Until recently I have never seen The Breakfast Club (yes, cue surprise). To be perfectly honest with you, this movie back in the day never even made it on my radar (I guess living the reality may have had something to do with it). Even though I watched plenty of movies at that time, well, yeah, I missed it.

Watching it for the first time, now that I’m older, I know I see this movie in a different light than what I would have done had I watched it all those years ago. It was a fun movie and as an adult I did enjoy it and I would have liked it as a teen, however, back then I probably would have laughed more.

There were a couple of scenes that did disturb me, like that one where John Bender was under the desk where Claire (Molly Ringwald) was sitting as he hid from the principal. As a teen I might have laughed at that situation, but these days as a mother with a teenage daughter and during the age of the #MeToo movement, not so much (and as a mother herself, Molly Ringwald agrees). The other scenes that disturbed me were the ones between John Bender and Claire, where he was constantly harassing her. This only made me feel uneasy. These scenes, had I watched the movie in the 80s, would have had the same reactions from me, as anyone else who has been harassed and/or bullied would know and can therefore relate to Claire.

All that aside, it was otherwise a good, fun movie, delving into the issues of teenage life. Before watching it, I could easily pick out who each character represented, so they fitted their stereotypical roles very well. Despite their differences, throughout their short time together, they discover that in reality, they’re not so different after all. The principal, an adult bully with an axe to grind (and I’m being nice here), representing those ‘boring’ adults where life doesn’t live up to their expectations, makes the adult audience question their own lives. At the end of the day, the audience is left to wonder if these characters would go on to follow in their parent’s footsteps or ultimately break free. The ending at least, gives the audience some hope. I understand this movie is a cult classic for some people, but for me personally, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t go that far.

I found the music to be a bit of a disappointment except for ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’, by Simple Minds which I guess explains one of the reasons why it stands out so much (or maybe that’s just me). This is a great song to listen to live in concert and I finally have a reason to put the video on my blog. 😉

Have you seen The Breakfast Club? Did you first watch it as a teen? As an adult, has your opinion of the movie changed at all?