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New Year and New Career… Of sorts.

Hello everyone, yes I’m finally writing a new blog post rather than just re-sharing something I wrote for someone else some time ago. All the same I do hope you enjoyed them, especially if you didn’t get to read them where they were originally published.

And so here I am, back to blogging and trying to figure out what to write. So I decided to share what it is I plan on doing this year, as it is a new career of sorts.

As some know, I’ve just spent nearly the last twenty years in ITC Support (Information Technology and Communications)… Yes, I did stuff with computers including dealing with people who had broken them, forgotten how to do something, wanted to buy something for it or had accidentally opened a nude picture in their email and now infected the whole company with a virus. Fun times :-/

There were a few reasons why I’ve given this career up, the biggest one being my chronic sinusitis being so bad these last few years I can no longer work in an air-conditioned environment without getting a sinus infection every few weeks. And how many ITC based jobs are there outside of an air-conditioned environment? No, I couldn’t think of any either. So you can see, I needed a career change.

Another reason for the career change was my children, my demonic hordes. I wanted to be home for them and we could just scrape through financially – most days – with my being a stay at home mum and there to ferry them about to the various things they needed. Orthodontist for the eldest, ophthalmologist for the middle child and a whole damned dictionary of ologists for my youngest due to the myriad of delights he’s been through in his young life. Being diagnosed as a child with High Functioning Autism (Asperger’s in the old lingo) merely the most recent.

Who needs a ‘real job’ when you have the fun of being a Haus Frau/ drudge, baker, horde wrangler, gardener, zoo keeper and so on?

Add to that the magical moment of becoming a Published Author (note the capital letters as it’s such a big thing to me) and, well, I decided on a career change last year as I was determined to be a better Writer.

Sadly this didn’t go to plan as I tried to juggle being a Writer with being the afore mentioned Haus Frau with all the duties that come with it and failed at being a Writer miserably. I feel the jury is still out as to how I went as a Haus Frau too, but let’s not go there. House, children, the fact I make 80% of what we eat from scratch… all of that simply got in the road and every time I was meant to have a ‘writing week’ I got side tracked into doing more Haus Frauing. I was, indeed the supreme Empress of Procrastination as I barely got a literary thing done! Some tell me ‘oh but you got another book published’ but most of that work was done the year before and my work was merely in a holding pattern. As a writer, I did bupkis.

Actually I may be being a little hard on myself as I did learn a few new tricks of the trade when it comes to writing and being an Author. I learnt a lot about how to negotiate a deal and even more about the legal system, copyright infringement and who the best people to talk to about the miss-use of intellectual property were. I learnt about image branding, how to use social media to shake your assets in a better manner and how to register my own domain and start building a website… which I will start flogging to you when I get it up and running a bit better. 🙂

So possibly not a total waste? No, not really as all the things I learnt – mostly through trial and error – last year has helped me come up with what I plan on doing as a career this year. And what is it? I’m going to become a full time Author.

Don’t give me that look! It’s really not as odd as it sounds, while still being a lot different to what I was doing last year. No, it doesn’t mean I’ll be playing a lot more solitaire on my laptop and hanging out at cafes as much as possible… but I’m not going to rule that out either. 😉

What I mean- my interpretation of – being a full time author is to simply focus on my writing, my image, the whole social media deal and especially the website. Although I will still be working from home and still have my hordes needs to contend with, I’m not going to juggle a day on day off Haus Frau and Writer schedule like last year. No, I am going to be an Author. This, to me, is more professional than being a mere Writer. As it means I can be more focussed on getting my name known, my books sold and so on. I will treat it like a full time job and will do my best to ignore the Haus Frauing unless it’s outside of ‘being an Author’ hours.

I do foresee the house getting messier, the garden becoming even more weed riddled and all in all finding my weekends and evenings filled with doing all the Haus Frau things I usual have all week to do. But! I want to be a full time Author. I want to get my name out there through my blogging, through reviewing, through my multi media accounts. And so my family is aware they are now on the backburner as I give this life a go.

What do I plan on achieving this year? Well, I don’t expect to become a sudden and instant success where the money will be rolling in and I can stop hiding the bills under the couch cushion until I have the courage to look at them. No, we’re still going to be poor and struggling… but I’m going to be writing!

I have one manuscript There’s no place like Hell to finish and send off to my publisher to see if it makes the grade. It’s not going to be published this year as I missed the deadline, but I’m still hoping it will be published next year.

Add to that I plan on writing two more full manuscripts (of 100,000 words or more) to prove I’m serious about writing. One will be my first book in a cosy crime series I plan on setting here in the Adelaide Hills. The second manuscript I want to complete… well, it might be another in the crime series, it might be another in the Other World series… but it could even be one of the many other stories in my head that is yelling at me to write it down. I won’t know until I make enough room in there to think by getting these other two manuscripts out on paper.

Besides writing, I plan on reading. A lot. As I personally feel one of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to read the works of others and see how they do it. You might see where you’re going wrong; you might see where they could have done with a better editor. But reading opens the mind and often helps my own ideas flow and come out on paper easier than they would if I simply focussed on them alone.

One of the ways I plan on reading ‘a lot’ is by becoming a reviewer. Yes I know, this is signing my own death warrant as there are a lot of authors who don’t take well to constructive criticism and try and do all sorts of nasty things to ruin your name, reputation and so on when you give them a bad review. But seriously, those sorts of people should go back to writing for pleasure, not for public examination. Because I can assure them now that if I don’t like something, I’m sure there are others who won’t either. You need to put your big girl panties on when it comes to being an Author and take the bad reviews with the good. Try and learn from them, find the positive and put it to work in your further books. Only low grade authors (note the lack of capital A) resort to hate mail, spambots on twitter and the usual immature meanness I’ve seen pop up when friends, who are reviewers, ruffle the wrong feathers. Being a bully makes you into an ugly person, not matter what you do. Just saying. 😉

So I’m going to be hitting NetGalley pretty heavily this year and checking out books in different genres that take my fancy. I will do my best to read these books, review them with an honest opinion and, hopefully, even learn from them. I will also be using Goodreads a lot to display my reviews as well as adding them to this blog… until I get the review section of my website up and running.

And speaking of my website… Yes, being a full time Author also means I will be working hard on establishing myself on my own website through blogs, reviews, comments and so on. For now I will be using my existing blogs (I have three) but I will slowly be moving them over to the website. This is part of the whole image branding I’ll be working on. As, I hate to break it to you, but if you want to be an Author, you need to have an image and you need to get it out there and noticed. If people like your brand, they’re going to take an interest in your work. If they take an interest in your work… that could mean a sale. And as a sale could mean another salted caramel hot chocolate for me… Image branding is very important to me.

Now I mentioned three blogs didn’t I? Am I glutton for punishment? No, I don’t think so. You see, there are really three parts to my life right now and that is ‘Being a Writer’, ‘Being a Foodie’ and ‘Being a Haus Frau/Mum’. And so they are currently separated into three different blogs. This blog is my Author blog. I have a Foodie blog where I wax lyrically about my weird food tastes and the fun things I get up to with nut flour. My third blog is actually my oldest blog. It’s my Dairy of a Haus Frau and is where I go on about being a parent, the antics of my hordes, home and garden. Yes, I do blog about my life… possibly in the vain hope I can make it sound less boring than it really is… who knows for sure. 😀

Add to the gluttony for punishment and I’m starting to do commissioned blog posts for others. I don’t charge peanuts though. No, I’m asking for cashews as I prefer them a lot more. I’m also looking into some freelance writing for other people’s websites and blogs and all in all it is just more writing to add to my schedule. We won’t go into the possible archivist role I’ve volunteered for. What can I say, I’m insane.

Another part of my image branding is getting known and noticed on social media. And, hopefully, for saying nice things and not by having another vent about society, politicians and bad drivers. I tweet, I’m on Facebook, I do loads of food porn on Instagram, I even pin the occasional thing at Pinterest. I’m out there trying to be seen, trying to look interesting enough to entice people to look at my books and buy them.

And that is how I plan on being a full time author this year. Loads of writing, loads of asset shaking, a bit of IT dabbling and plenty of excuses to read other people’s work.

Wish me luck; I’m going to need it. I mean, I have a good feeling about it all and feel I’m freed up more to do it now all my hordes are at full time school… but this is only my third day in the job so maybe the glamour hasn’t worn off yet. Watch this space and let’s see what happens.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Writing

 

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My children do not fear the Bogeyman, good parenting or bad?

Hi everyone, another ‘re-run’. My hordes go back to school next week and I hope to get back into some serious and new blogging then! Today’s blog post was originally featured and the rather sultry and sensual VampChix blogsite. How could you not like a blog when they describe themselves as ‘Exploring new worlds, one bite at a time’? Seriously, go check them out.

My children do not fear the Bogeyman, good parenting or bad?

Besides being a fan of the supernatural, there is another genre I enjoy – crime fiction. And when it comes to TV crime fiction, it is a rare gem that blends both crime and supernatural together so well. One of these rare gems is the UK TV series Whitechapel where modern day detectives and their flunkies seek out the earthly, sane answers to some pretty weird and gruesome things happening in the heart of Whitechapel… that haunt of Jack the Ripper just a century or so before. It is a great series, shame it was eventually axed, but it was the right blend of spooky, creepy, crime, horror viewing I liked.

My only desire is that they didn’t put it on so late at night when I’m home alone with the kids in bed and all those strange noises outside. Yes, I am a bit of wimp too. But Whitechapel has that right edge that Doctor Who had when I was a child. I’ve not yet watched Whitechapel from behind the couch with a thrill of ghoulish curiosity… but I’ve come close.

So what has this to do with Bogeymen and my children some of you may be asking? If you’re still actually waiting for me to get to the point. Good question, thank you for asking.

The Whitechapel I was watching last week was about the Bogeyman and had the team reciting all threats and warnings they remembered from their childhoods about the Bogeyman and how their parents had used this fear to control them. And I realised something shocking… I’d never used this fear, this threat of the Bogeyman on my own children to ensure they behaved. Was that good, modern day parenting? Or losing some of our verbal traditions and tales?

All is not lost though as it’s not as if my children don’t know about the Bogeyman. Oh, trust me, having me as their mum they know all about all sorts of supernatural folk from the fae to the far out there. Dinner time discussions are about things like this all the time. A good example is the time I explained the after death rituals of the ancient Egyptians. I had them so hooked that night, as I was explaining the role of Ammut (crocodile headed god who weighs the heart of the dead before making judgement), that when I clapped my hands together as the snapping of his jaws… they leapt off their chairs in fright and I needed to check under their chairs for puddles. Yeah, I tell a good story.

So it’s not as if I’ve raised my children in a lack lustred world where what they see if all of what they get. No, I do my best to weave a little magic and unreality into their lives whenever I can. See my eldest’s pen pal – A faerie who looks after horses. Or the fact that the Christmas wrapping elf Bryony comes to see us each Christmas Eve. She leaves a special gift for my kids… as well as a card containing three strips of sticky tape. Magic happens, let it live on in others even if we may have forgotten its touch in our own lives.

Back to the Bogeyman and my children’s lack of fear. They know the Bogeyman exists, along with ghosts, zombies, spirits, djinns, demons and the whole kit and caboodle. But did you know the way to get rid of the Bogeyman is to lift off his hat and laugh at him? That’s what I was taught as a child, if he ever came for me, and it’s what I’ve taught my children too. And now he knows we know how to get rid of him, he doesn’t come here. Knowledge being power and all that.

Ghosts, djinn, spirits? Oh, the secret salt circle we have lining the outside of the house and the iron reinforcements in its very walls keep them out. Oh yeah! Zombies… well, we’ve had a bit of an issue with zombies for a while now with our eldest. But we have found the best fix for them is magical pixie dust. My eldest came up with that solution when she was five and still sometimes needs a little these days when she’s feeling unwell or a little worried. It’s a wonderful cure all I tell you! And it’s amazing what a few drops of yellow and red food colouring gently swirled in full cream milk can do too… if you know what I mean?

Then we have binding circles… my kids play with chalk out on our concrete verandah a lot. As well as the words to dispel demons and, all in all, I’m pretty sure I have some pretty well rounded kids. So they’re not afraid of the Bogeyman. They still believe in him and know he’s out there… so the narrative history will live on. But I don’t use him to scare my kids into being good; I use him to feed their hunger for knowledge.

It’s working too. Eldest, now nine, plans on being the world’s leading expert in Sifaka (a type of lemur – the primate, not Roman ghost). Middle child, seven and a budding artist, is undecided as to whether she’ll be a basic entomologist, a graphical entomologist (one who draws the bugs) or an archaeological entomologist… to study what part bugs played to ancient civilisations. My youngest, aged five and a little… special… Well, right now I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a farmer, a gardener or Sheldon Cooper. He’s five, he has time to decide.

So, should we keep our children in check by passing on a fear of the unknown? Or should we use these old myths to train them into being fearless explorers of the unknown and then letting them loose on the poor unsuspecting world? I know which one sounds more fun to me!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Writing

 

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I do like vampires, honest.

The following blog post was originally written as a guest spot over at Fangtastic Books as part of my Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! book tour in September last year.

Please go check it out, and all the other wonderful articles, blog posts and author interviews on Fangtastic Books. I have to say, it was one of my favourite sites on the tour and a place I keep visiting even now for updates on things.

Yes, still in holiday mode so still mostly rehashing my work. My Hordes go back to school at the end of January and so you can expect new posts from me then. Still, this is a great post… even if I do say so myself. 😉

I do like vampires, honest.

In my latest book Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! I have portrayed vampires in a less than pleasant light. I’ve taken them right back to the beginning when they were pure evil and just out for their own pleasure from other people’s pain. I even took a little artistic license by stating they were created as an after effect of people killing a demon. As that demon died, its own coiled Darkness and evilness was released and tainted the blood of its vanquishers, turning them into the vile vampires my protagonist is out to kill.

Some people have told me this shows I don’t like vampires nor appreciate their finer points. This isn’t true, there are some vampires I really do like. See Queen Betsy from MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and… series. I love her. Yes she gets on my nerves at times, but she’s still a great vampire and a Queen of them too. She is vain, blonde, obsessed with shoes and a randy little minx… but still a gorgeous character and proof you can be a vampire and still be nice, mostly.

Then there are the vampires in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series. Another perfect example of a well-rounded species. Either born with the vampire virus and therefore a living vampire, infected with enough of the virus to become a lesser, turned vampire. Then there are the top of the food chain – someone who was born a living vampire who has died and spent a lot of time being undead. Some are relatively good – despite their need to follow their vampiric urges – and some are not so good. They are a well thought out species and done in such a way they are truly believable. Plus sultry, sexy and elegant without needing to sparkle.

Heck, movie wise, I’d even give the thumbs up to the Lost Boys vamps. I watched it as a teen, wasn’t obsessed with it like some I know, but found them an acceptable portrayal. What me, fussy?

Are there vampires I don’t like? Well, yes. There are the ones that seem to be trying to take over the world one virgin at a time. The teen heart-throb types that sparkle and would look more at home in Disneyland than Transylvania. Don’t get me wrong, these vampires obviously work as they do have their fans… but they are just not for me. The origin and soul of a vampire is in pure evil and darkness, and this doesn’t just mean smouldering good looks and a bad boy leather jacket. They can’t be changed and made better and I’m pretty sure they can’t be cured. Maybe I missed that memo?

But please, don’t take my judgement as the law. Vampires come in all shapes and sizes and you need to find the one you prefer. Hey, if the fang fits and all that!

Would I write about vampires again? Probably, but I would again push the boundaries and go against the current vampiric norm. In fact I already have written about a different type of vampire, a psychic one. Actually I started writing this story some decades ago and have since lost it. Isn’t that always the way when you move out of home, get a job, a life, have kids, etc? Still, one day I would like to find it… or simply start writing it all over again.

So what is a psychic vampire? I can’t say all psychic vampires are like mine, but here’s what I did. A young woman (early twenties) was raped outside a nightclub and was left mentally and physically traumatised. She then moves back to her home town to be with her parents and slowly rebuilds herself and her faith in mankind, seeing her rapist was never found. Slowly she finds the moods of a crowd around her affected her in ways it never used to. She was almost able to feed off of it and soon found actual food no longer necessary. And despite her now dislike of crowds, due to her trauma, she finds herself drawn to them nightly to ‘feed’.

As the story progresses she starts to have physical flashbacks. As in, finds herself in parts of the past and how her home town used to look. Long story short she discovers she’s pregnant from the rape and the child conceived through evil is causing these changes in her. To give birth to it, what will it be and what will happen to her? And, yeah, that’s all I pretty much had figured out and had started writing. I do feel it would be a little different to write these days as I was eighteen when I started it. That’s *cough* twenty years ago now.

How would you create a vampire? Twinkly and new style or go old style and the spawn of hell? Will they feed off blood, emotions, virgins, strawberry smoothies? Do they need to be surrounded by gore and humping, writhing over-sexed bodies to be a good read? And are they the protagonist or the villain? This is why a vampire can be a fun thing to read or write as, quite frankly, there are just so many different types to choose from.

Until next time,

Janis Hill. XXOO

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Writing

 

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Remembering my childhood and how Cyclone Tracy shaped it.

I will state here and now I was not in cyclone Tracy. I wasn’t even born when it hit. I was born in Darwin two years later and have strong memories of growing up in a town, in an environment, that was slowly recovering from that horrific event.

This blog post is more about how cyclone Tracy shaped my early life and therefore shaped who I am. Even two years after it happened it was changing people, shaping our lives. Actually, it was doing that for many years after it happened. For the first five or so years of my life, people lived in real fear of each and every cyclone that hit. For those who had been in Darwin for Tracy, the memories were still raw and the fear still so real and fresh. For those who had moved into the wreckage, the desolation, the landscape stripped bare by the giant storm, they too were afraid of each new cyclone in case it showed them what it had been like to be in that nightmare.

For those of you reading this and having no idea what I’m talking about, cyclone Tracy was a category four cyclone that hit Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australian on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1974. It was a huge storm, like a hurricane but spinning in the opposite direction, and it destroyed the town. Wiped basically everything out, houses, trees, planes, boats and people. Sixty six people in all died. Fifty three on the land and thirteen at sea. Horribly, most of the fatalities were children… in some cases smothered to death by parents protecting them from the fierce winds and flying debris.

For more factual information on this massive storm, please visit the National Archives of Australia’s official page on the event. As my post isn’t about retelling the horror of an event I wasn’t even there for. It’s about how the recovering Darwin shaped me. Actually, writing this I’ve found some very fascinating blogs and sites that recount Darwin, the cyclone and the rebuild. I highly recommend anyone interested in learning more to google the topic and start reading. There’s some great stuff out there!

So, I was born in Darwin two years after the cyclone that destroyed over seventy percent of the buildings. A lot had changed by then, new buildings had been built, some of the older buildings had been restored and most of the storm debris was removed. I mean, there was still the twisted “three girders” from a house that later became a monument. There were still the trees with parts of people’s roofs embedded in them. Actually, those trees and their shrapnel were still around well into my adult life. They might even still be there, I don’t know, I moved away from Darwin nearly twenty years ago as it had changed from the one I had loved growing up.

And I don’t mean that in a completely negative way… not really. It was inevitable that Darwin would change because the one I grew up in was more a stop gap measure to most, than an actual city. With the threat of another cyclone still red raw in their memories, the houses were built like concrete bunkers ensuring they would survive another onslaught. The landscape was new and barren. Stripped bare by the winds and destruction, I remember Darwin growing up as being a near treeless place. Lots of bare earth and the ability to watch my father drive home from the university (then Community College) from about the half way point as there was no real foliage in between. Being in the tropics that barren earth soon turned green and was swallowed up by fast growing trees like African mahogany and black wattles. But I still remember it.

Cyclone Tracy shaped where I went to school. As the school chosen for my older siblings and therefore me was one of the first schools restored and accepting students when it was time for my sister to go. It shaped how I played at school as I still have memories of the playground the army had built for the children. It was a lot of wooden structures and netting (think army obstacle course) and I still remember burning my bottom on the searing hot slippery dip (slide) as I studied its construction… being made out of forty four gallon drums beaten flat and then welded together. I can’t see my children being allowed to play on such equipment these days, but this was the late 70’s and early 80’s and kids were different back then. 😉

In a lot of ways Cyclone Tracy even shaped my after school care and activities. As some of this time I spent in good old Building eighteen and the then Darwin Community College. My father worked there and was part of the department that tested blends of concrete and other building materials to ensure they were strong enough to meet the new building codes. The building codes introduced after Tracy. Building eighteen was the science building and so my early childhood was one of science and learning the different things like biology, botany, engineering, geology, entomology and all the other “the study of” sciences there. These were people brought to the north to study Darwin after the cyclone. To see how the plants, animals and insects were doing after such a massive shock to the natural world too.

An example of this people may not believe is when green ants came back to Darwin. Yes, green ants! This happened in my life time! This shaped my upbringing too. See, we used to have a Poinciana tree in our front yard and every year it would be decimated by a type of caterpillar we called a looper. I really don’t remember it’s actual name, they were just loopers as they looped along… a bit like the images I’ve seen of an inchworm. So, these loopers would appear in plague proportions every year and wipe out all the Poinciana trees in the neighbourhood. They would get everywhere and were a real pest. Then one year we noticed this strange orange ant with a green bum. We’d never seen one before and they were new to Darwin in the eyes of we new residents in this ever recovering city. They were the green ants. A native ant that had been in that part of Australia for longer than any of us. But I had never seen one because cyclone Tracy had decimated their population so much they had disappeared. This ‘new’ ant had travelled a long way to this lush new world to replace its dead relatives. They had marched north to discover no other tree dwelling ant in their road and they took over. They weren’t a pest, despite our hatred of their giant leafy nests in our road, they were back where they belonged. It had taken them almost ten years, but the green ants returned to Darwin. We didn’t have much of a problem with the loopers after that and our Poinciana even flowered and had a seed pod it recovered so well! Another momentous moment, seeing a Poinciana flower… as it wasn’t something I’d seen before thanks to the hungry loopers.

Having entomologists setting insect traps in your yard and getting excited over discovering a new bug or moth is another memory. Their fascination on life returning rubbed off on me. I think that’s why the little things in life still fascinate me so much. The miracles of nature most people walk blindly past that bring a smile to my face for witnessing.

For people bored of this blog and not getting the point, let me try and explain it better. I grew up in this new, growing and recovering environment. It was the only life I ever knew. As far as I was concerned this was how life was. Buildings the same age, or younger, than yourself. Panic at the first sign of a cyclone. That siren warning to let you know it’s time to go home and buckle down as another cyclone was about to hit. To me, this was normal. Didn’t everyone grow up in science labs, play on old army equipment and watch trees and buildings grow with them? Discover new animals in their yards and watch life explode into existence from a desolate and dirty barren waste land?

The first time I saw a building that was fifty years old – while visiting family interstate – I was in awe. Real, everyday people got to live in such old buildings? Weren’t old building just special places the rich lived in? Or the Government? Yes, fifty years old was old to me! Buildings in my life were the same age as me. You should have seen my reaction the first time I came face to face with stone statues that were over seven hundred years old! Awe was an understatement. Old things were alien to me, as old meant the same age you were… didn’t it?

And so cyclone Tracy shaped my fascination in old manmade creations. From art and architecture through to books and literature… life existed before cyclone Tracy and not everyone lived in a place as old as them with belongings of the same age. Some were lucky enough to live in places decades older than themselves. Centuries even! How lucky were they? And yet they didn’t even seem to realise this.Yes, I was a child and so my views on the world were limited to what I understood, but I hope you can understand it all the same.

Growing up in Darwin itself also shaped me. What I deemed ‘normal’ others see as rather over the top and in some cases insane. A place that had no rain and bushfires for eight months of the year and then four months of cyclones, mild flooding and near constant rain… that’s normal. What do you mean we’re meant to have four seasons? Two is all we needed. Cold, what was cold? Wasn’t that a stuffed up nose that got you off school for a few days? Of course all the food is in the fridge or freezer or tinned and dehydrated. It would go off otherwise! Nah mate, that was just a python, not anything to be afraid of. Yes it was a snake… but there’s a difference between a venomous one and just a python. Yes, termites fly and the air is filled with them at the first rains of the season. Try and not inhale them. That thing on the wall? It’s just a gecko… no, don’t pick it up by its tail! There’s mould on your leather shoes? I hate to break it to you, but it’s March and there’s mould on everything right now, including you! Hell yes the soil can even kill you, there’s a bacteria in it that comes up with the water table in the wet and I really don’t think you should go walking in it in bare feet with that cut you’ve got there.

No, I’m not making any of that up… I really have said it to strangers to the north over my life time. 🙂

And so, realising cyclone Tracy was forty years ago this Christmas… I started to wonder exactly how many people still in Darwin remember it the same way I do. I know of a few, as I still have friends and family there. But when Darwin lost its fear of cyclones and people from the south moved up there, turned their noses up at what the tropics were like and pulled it all down and put up their view of what the tropics should be like… I had to leave. I’d lost my Darwin and an even newer one had been put in its place.

So as much as I love my Darwin… it doesn’t exist anymore. I still call it my hometown, even if the one I remember is no longer there. You can never go home, but it continues you shape you throughout your life and you need to acknowledge your past, embrace the present and enjoy the prospect of the future. My Darwin has changed and gone, but the one that is there now is just as important and I hope they’re never put through another cyclone like Tracy.

Not exactly the sort of Christmas post people usually send out… but cyclone Tracy shaped Christmas for me too… doesn’t everyone have tape on their windows at that time of year? You mean it’s not part of the decorations? 😉

Be safe, remind your friends and family how awesome they are and how loved they are and realise we don’t all see the world the same way as we didn’t all have the same childhood as you. Or even look on the same environment we were growing up in in the same way you did.

Until next time,

Janis XXOO.

Three Twistered House Girders

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in More pep talk than writing, Writing

 

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Week One of NaNoWriMo over, how did you do?

So that’s week one done and dusted, how did you do? Did you make your goal or pledged amount of words? Did you start out well, plough on come hump day and then end the week playing solitaire with the “I’ll get back to my manuscript as soon as I win this game…” mantra?

Most importantly – Did you have fun? As quite honestly I really don’t care about the rest as long as you nailed this last one. 🙂

Me? Well, I started out shaky as I got back into the mindset to write as Stephanie in There’s no place like Hell, and then I had to push through the mental blocks that have been stopping me from writing all these months. I averaged around 1,500 words on the first few days. Not the desired 5,000 words but better than the 0 I had been managing for so long.

I then had an epiphany around Wednesday and got past the final mental block! The Ankou was working with a tribe of Impa Shilup – of course! And all the words just poured out. I was up until just after 1AM getting the Ankou and a demon out of my house before I could go to bed. I only managed 3,600 words or so – but I achieved so much I didn’t care I didn’t make my goal.

NaNoWriMo moment - finally getting to bed at 1AM.

NaNoWriMo moment – finally getting to bed at 1AM.

 

I was then stuck at home with a sick child for the rest of the week and, quite frankly, I could not write more than a few hundred words a day. If he wasn’t sick and needed cuddles, he was talking the legs of a donkey through wet cement. Not the ideal writing environment. :-/

And by the end of the week, as I’d been working hard on Haus Frauing as well as Authoring, I was at my wits end this morning. So escaped for some ME time at one of my favourite chocolatier cafes – Red Cacao.

I spent my quarterly royalties on the following – spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with natural yoghurt. Plus the all-important MUG of salted caramel hot chocolate. Inner peace gained, pat on the back for selling ten copies of my books last quarter and some much needed ME time taken to remind myself of the good things that come from writing.

 

Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.

Red Cacao spiced carrot and date loaf drizzled with warm honey and served with fresh strawberries and natural yoghurt.

 

Now that I’m home again I am rejuvenated and plan on ignoring my family for the rest of the day and just writing as that’s what it’s all about.

Yes I’m not that famous (I’m famous in my own backyard as I put it) and I don’t earn buckets of money… but you know what? I’m averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars for my reviews, people who are buying my books are loving them and I got a bloody good hot chocolate and scrummy cake out of it. I am a winner. This is what NaNoWriMo is all about – being a Writer, being an Author and simply enjoying it for what it is and celebrating every small achievement.

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books - this is thanks to you. :-)

My well earned royalties payments spent the best way I know how. Thank you for buying my books – this is thanks to you. 🙂

 

So in week two of NaNoWriMo, keep this in mind. Are you writing to keep up with everyone else? Are you in a race to write the most words no matter what the quality? Are you, like me, using it to inspire yourself into finishing a manuscript? Or are you just jumping in and enjoying being part of this big, wide world of Authors and Writers celebrating our love of the written word this November?

Although you can write for a competition, the writing itself is not a competition. Don’t just be filling up the page if you’re not feeling the story. Don’t feel pressured by NaNoWroMo, it doesn’t own you, it’s not going to hunt you down and rip your arms off if you don’t follow the rules or pledges you’ve made. It’s there to inspire you, not stress you. And if there are people out there making it stress you, go find new people as they’re not worth it. Easier said than done by a loner who can interact with others but is simply fine singing her own praises. 😉

Okay, here comes week two of NaNoWriMo – let’s jump on board, write our hearts out, laugh at our outrageously silly typos, encourage others no matter how much or how little they write and just high five all the other Writers out there. We may not all be Authors, and if we are we may not even be successful ones. But we’re having a good time doing what we love best – writing.

And some of us are making the most of it with spiced carrot and date loaf with a salted caramel hot chocolate. 😉

 

Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself - yum!

Red Cacao salted caramel hot chocolate. You add the hot caramel yourself – yum!

 

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Writing

 

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Friends of writers know we’re weird, but love us all the same.

This week I’ve picked up various social media types, what I call ‘follower fodder’. As in companies/people/ spambots that hook on to something you’ve said, referenced or inferred to somewhere within social media (blog, Twitter, Facebook, you know – that stuff) and basically follow you in the vain hope you’re gullible enough to not only follow them back but buy whatever it is they’re selling (which is usually not much to nothing at all but now they have your money they don’t care).

So I thought of doing a blog post on how sick I am of such people, who take on the belief that everyone who uses the internet is gullible, stupid and has enough money to hand out to anyone who asks for it. I wanted to point out that not everyone who uses the internet is an imbecile and how I wish people would stop approaching me as if I was… and then I spent some time on social media sights this afternoon and read over comments and posts by perfect strangers out there voicing their own opinions on things and well… decided to let that sleeping dog lie. Not only did I not want to waste my precious weekly blog on a rather boring and froth at the mouth rant, I also didn’t want it to look like a snippet of some latest piece of fiction I am dealing with. 😉

As I have mentioned in other blog posts – It is better the remain silent and be thought an idiot than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt… or something like that. In other words, I didn’t want to become another spouty all-knowing god of knowledge and come across an ever bigger idiot than I started out as by acknowledging I had been reading some of the tripe I had indeed been reading. 😀

And so instead, I thought I’d dedicate this post to letting you all know what I’ve been up to in the writing world. Yes, if you’re inwardly or outwardly groaning over how dull a topic this sounds, now’s the time to stop reading and go off and get on with your life. Byie!

For the rest of you, I’ll start by explaining the title of this blog. It came from a conversation I was having with a few friends via one of those notorious social media sites the other day. When asked what I was up to (meaning writing wise) I explained that I had had to redo my zombies, was thinking of doing something with Tasmania, was a little closer to killing my artist, hadn’t yet gotten to hell and was still uncertain whether dragons could be used to explain the true depths of mathematics. So… the usual.

They took this in their stride and wished me well and asked me questions about it, but a friend new to the conversation had to ask if this was all in the one book as it sounded complicated. To which another friend said ‘No, just in her head. She’s weird because she’s a writer, but we love her all the same.’ And yes, yes I did take that as the compliment it was meant to be. I have always relished in being weird, whether hidden in ‘normal people’ clothing (think wolf in sheep’s clothing) or just letting my weirdness show through wearing happy pants and odd (unmatched) fluro coloured socks. And the fact that friends accepted it, enjoyed it, understood it and proudly told me so was just the icing on the cake.

And no, that wasn’t all in the one book. I am a good writer and would never go that nutso crazy in the one book. 😉

In fact it was two short stories, two separate book sequels and my first attempt at a cosy crime fiction. Can you tell which was which? Do you feel I should stick my cliché of ‘being yourself’ in here somewhere?

No, I won’t put it in, but I will brag a bit about my writing projects. I just wanted to start it by mentioning my friends and their kind words when it comes to dealing with me having one foot in reality with them and the other dancing about in various worlds. Creative Hokey Pokey?

So, writing and what I am doing right now. Well, I’ve written a short story titled The last tenant of Adelaide set here in Adelaide of course, but after the all too popular zombie apocalypse everyone appears to be prepping for. I will admit here and now that short story writing isn’t my strong point, in fact the whole story is about as many words as I tend to spend on a chapter… so it was hard and I did have to do a re-write (rare for me). All the same, it has tentatively been accepted for an eBook anthology of short stories that are set in Australia. For more information on this eBook idea I strongly suggest you visit the blog of Samantha Stacey Bond where she explains it a bit better.

And, after chatting with Samantha, I got thinking about whether or not to try and do a short story set in each and every state and territory of Australia. So, that’s South Australia down and after a news article I read the other day about an exploration to Tasmania to see if they could find any more Tasmanian tigers… well, now I’m working on one for Tasmania too. Speaking to another writer, Leonie Rogers, about what it’s like growing up in the red earth of the north (her in Western Australia while I was in the Northern Territory) has had me start thinking of a story for my ‘home’ next. Just the simple comment from Leonie of ‘It’s the red dirt running in our veins’ has of course got those creative juices boiling over with ideas of where to take such a brilliant line. She knows I’m going to do it too!

Short stories aside, I think I may have mentioned I had started on a sequel to Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!? And if I haven’t, I’m mentioning it now. The sequel is titled There’s no place like Hell. Yes, I’m sticking to the Wizard of Oz quotes and loving it. Basically my lovely and sarcastic Stephanie, who you will meet through IVG-OM! next year, has to save the soul of someone from her past… and to do so has to go to hell to do it. I won’t say too much as it won’t make sense if you’ve not read the first… but it involves the usual demons, Isis stuff, ghosts of a sort and further ‘Other World’ type fun being beaten into submission by her sarcastic but gentle touch. Well, not too gentle a touch really, but hey!

The other sequel is merely an idea for now and would follow on from Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics. Basically I feel there are some loose ends to be tied up in the first story… plus a little ‘What if’ scenario I would like to play with. This ‘What if’ was shared on Bonnie’s Facebook page last week. Besides tying up the loose ends, I just want to know how far down I want to delve into maths and physics to show the true origin of magic. And the reason magic is no longer used in our world is because… well, it actually is, if you know the right sums and equations. Who knows, this one is just a backburner thought for now. 😉

And finally, the cosy crime attempt – Mount Loxley Murder Mysteries and me bumping off the Autumnal Artist to kick this alphabetical series off. I’m almost there too! Just hired the artist… now just have to get her back to her place and bump her off in that locked room I keep talking about. Yes, this one leads back to my friends loving my weirdness and I have actually been asked ‘How are you, have you killed her yet?’ by those near and dear to me. Often daily. 😉

So, are you still awake? As that’s pretty much everything I am writing right now… or not writing as the case may be. As I am currently trying to get back on top of all the Haus Frauing and gardening that needs to be done around here as well as get back to full health. Plus with the summer Solstice coming, shortly followed by Christmas (and horde holidays)… I have a lot of other things to rudely get in the road of my writing. But still, school holidays can be a bonus as it means I can sit up until 3 in the morning writing and be able to ignore the world in my own zombie state the next day as long as I remember to provide enough food and water for the kids… and remember how many kids I am meant to have in my care that day. 😉

I hope this blog post has helped inspire you to do some writing of your own. For someone who dislikes short stories so much, I’ve actually become quite addicted to the concept of them and have even entered some of my shorter stuff into competitions. As they say, you have to be in it to show you tried, even if you still fail. The fact you tried still counts!

So go out there, blog, write, enjoy being a writer and possibly in being weird. Don’t just sit and sigh and want to waffle over the imbeciles on the internet and those who prey on them. Go make your own fun instead!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Writing

 

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