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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Diary of a writing retreat

Many authors struggle with the discipline of writing regularly. It can be difficult to fit it in and make it a daily priority, particularly when you also work full time in a regular day job, and also have to keep up with such things as cleaning, washing, cooking and shopping. How does an author manage to fit writing into such a schedule?
The thing that works best for me is to plan a writing retreat - a time to devote exclusively to writing. But for this to work properly, I have to plan it well. While writing Mine to Avenge, I occasionally went away for the weekend, or for a longer period to a completely different environment well away from any usual distractions.
While I can and do schedule writing retreats at home, as I have done this weekend, I am not always disciplined enough to avoid the distraction of the familiar environment. It’s easier to stay focused if the writing is flowing and the ideas are spilling over, but if I’m at an inspirational standstill, it’s easy to lose my focus. This is what has happened to me this weekend.
Today was the first day of a planned weekend writing retreat at home. Just for a bit of fun, I’ve written a diary of how things went today to show you what I mean - and the fact that I’ve even written a blog post shows that my focus wandered from my novel in a big way. But I still have a few hours left to work after tea …

6.15am - Wake up. Get up as planned to spend the day working on my novel. This is a great start. Didn’t even need the alarm. Drag computer back to my bed while rubbing sleep from my eyes. Make coffee.

6.30am - Prop myself up in bed spilling chocolate coated coffee beans all over the quilt. Mug of hot coffee nearby and laptop ready. Plan to start by re-reading my WIP to immerse myself into the storyline, which I haven’t looked at since November.

7.30am - Realise I have been surfing the internet for an hour. Stop surfing internet and start reading my story.

7.15am - Realise it’s breakfast time, so get up to make breakfast.

10.00am - Finish reading story. Find myself tying to think of an inspirational status update for Facebook, rather than inspiration for my novel. Move from bed to sunny back patio, hoping vitamin D intake will inspire creativity, but stay in PJ’s. Notice yesterday’s washing is still outside, so I take a load of washing inside. Check the mobile phone which rang earlier - after vowing that I wouldn’t - to see who the call was from. Turn phone onto silent after deciding the message wasn’t urgent. Resist impulse to go out to front lawn and stare across the road at the roof of the house I just recently bought - being in PJ’s makes this an easy decision.

10.15am - Finally start writing with no idea where the story is going.

10.30am - My stomach thinks of the cappuccino yogurt in the fridge. Go get it hoping it might work where the Vitamin D doesn’t seem to be.

11.00am - Word count: 794. Take in  a second load of dry clothes, fold them and put them away - grab 2 biscuits. Start writing again.

12.00 noon - Word count: 1544. Certain it’s all rubbish, but I do a little dance on the patio. It’s 1544 more words than I had this morning. Start thinking it might be lunch-time soon, but try to dismiss the thought, hoping that if I push on I might find myself on a roll - decide to keep at it for another hour before rewarding myself with lunch.

1.30pm - Lunch - salad, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. While eating, I notice my brand new Les Miserables DVD, still inside its cellophane packet. Voice of temptation says, ‘Watch it now! Watch it now!’ Resolve to leave the cellophane packet on it all weekend.
Surf internet while eating to distract myself from Les Miserables. Get distracted looking at home décor ideas for my new house. Then get distracted by new review of my book on Amazon and tweet about it. Get side-tracked with research for novel that isn’t needed yet.

2.00pm - Return to writing

2.30pm - Overwhelming wave of fatigue sends me to kitchen to make coffee. Make coffee. Notice Les Miserables DVD again. Hide DVD in drawer where I can’t see it.

3.00pm - Word count: 2916. Go on Facebook to celebrate - manage to keep it to ten minutes and get back to writing.

3.45 - Get distracted by internet again - find recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. When I realize I have all the ingredients, I go and make a batch.

4.00pm Writing again

4.30pm - I suddenly remember that 'Midsomer Murders' is on in half an hour. A voice in my head justifies watching it, as there might be something in the plot I can use to advance my story. Check TV guide to see if anything else worth watching.

5.00pm - Word count: 4205 words. Give in to voice in head and watch 'Midsomer Murders'. Another voice in my head starts telling me that I have no will power, for not sticking with my resolve to write all day. Try to deal with consequent guilt by writing this blog post while watching TV - after all, it’s still writing, I tell myself.

6.30pm - Distracted by watching 'Gardening Australia', which happens to be about small gardens. This is very useful I think, as my new house has a small garden. I ignore the voice in my head telling me that I can watch this show in iView later on.

7.00pm - Starving: time for tea. Panic a moment or two realizing that the day is almost over and the idea for a critically important scene has suddenly come to me. Run back and forth between computer and stove while cooking tea, hoping to bolster my word count a bit more. Manage to add another 128 words while doing this.

8.00pm - Post this blog post and resolve to write non-stop until 10.00pm, and do better tomorrow for day 2.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mine to Avenge Giveaway

I can't believe that the Mine to Avenge Blog Tour is almost over. Only three more days to go. You can still catch up on the posts by clicking here.

In the meantime, there is a giveaway happening with today's post at The Never Ending Bookshelf, hosted by the wonderful Jess Fitzpatrick, so hop on over and pay her a visit, and enter one of the easiest giveaways you'll ever come across.

There is also an opportunity to win an Amazon gift voucher on this blog as part of the blog tour. Just check out the previous post.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

I thought I would add a fun competition to the Mine to Avenge blog tour, which is currently at Day 6 (schedule here). On the final day of the tour (Friday April 26th) I will be choosing one of the wonderful host bloggers to win a $25 Amazon gift voucher and was wondering how to choose them.

This is where you come in. Help me choose the winning host by nominating them. I will count up all the nominations next Friday (26th) and award the voucher to the winning host blogger. Then I will do a random draw from among those who have nominated a blogger to win a $20 Amazon gift voucher.

So there are two vouchers on offer - one for the host bloggers, and one for those who would like to nominate.

Here are a few simple rules to make it easy to participate:

1. Nominate the host blogger you would like to win. Get your nominations to me by either commenting at the bottom of this post, or messaging me on my Facebook Page or contacting me via my Website. Please DON'T post directly on my Facebook Page but use the message button.

2. Nominate as many authors as you wish, but only nominate each author once. So please don't send multiple entries for the same blogger. As there are 12 hosts, it means you are eligible to send through 12 separate nominations.
Note: If you nominate all 12 authors, this will help their numbers for the host blogging part of the competition and show your support, but it doesn't count as multiple entries for the random draw part of the competition. You will only be included once in this draw.

3. Host bloggers are eligible to nominate other bloggers with the following exclusions -
  • Please don't nominate yourself.
  • You will also be excluded from winning this particular part of the competition, as you are in the running for the host blogger prize.
So check out the schedule each day and nominate the bloggers you would like to win. When you check the schedule, all links to the host bloggers are active, but of course, the blog tour is only up to day 6 - April 20th - so there are no Tour posts beyond that date at this time, but don't let that stop you from checking out the other bloggers and getting to know them and what they do.

Have fun. Competition closes 5pm Friday 26th April (South Australian time).

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mine to Avenge Blog Tour begins tomorrow

Just a reminder that the blog tour to celebrate and promote Mine to Avenge launches bright and early tomorrow morning, South Australian time. I hope you will be able to follow along with the 12 days of posts, and meet some wonderful host bloggers along the way, as well as find out more about me and my book.
Please post comments and interact on the host blogs, and I'll do my best to respond to them around the hours of my full time work. Thanks, everyone, in anticipation of your wonderful support. Looking forward to 'meeting' as many of you as I can as I tour along with you.
Here is the link to the blog tour schedule if you haven't yet seen it. You can also access it on my website, which can be reached via the tab at the top of the page.

Link to the Mine to Avenge Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, 12 April 2013

Liebster Blog Award - Mark 2

Today I'm thrilled to be responding to my second nomination for the Liebster Blog Award. I only recently responded to a nomination I received last year for the same award, as I overlooked it in a period of busy-ness at the time the nomination originally came through. 

However, I am very excited to have been nominated a second time for my blog, A Novel Journey, this time by Red Nomad OZ of Amazing Australian Adventures. Red’s blog is well worth a visit if you want to find out more about Australia. I can almost guarantee that if you live outside of Australia, you’ll want to book a ticket after being to her blog, and if you already live here, well, you’ll be tempted to throw in your day job and get on the road to visit the wonderful places she talks about.

At the risk of some repetition for those who read this blog regularly, I will reiterate what the Liebster Blog Award is about for the visitors to this post. The Liebster Blog Award is an award bestowed upon bloggers by bloggers, the word Liebster being German, meaning ‘sweetest’, ‘kindest’, ‘dearest,’ ‘beloved’, ‘lovely’, ‘kind’, ‘pleasant’, ‘valued’, ‘cute’ and  ‘endearing’. The award encourages bloggers to continue on with their work in the blogging world, acknowledges them as gifted bloggers in their own right, and by nominating bloggers, you indicate that they are some of your personal favourites.

Here is how the award works:
  • The nominated blogger must post 11 facts about themselves.
  • They must then answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated them.
  • Then nominate 11 bloggers and give them 11 questions to answer.
  • Link to your chosen 11 bloggers in your blog post. 
  • Let them know you have nominated them.
  • Don't nominate the blogger who nominated you.
11 Facts about me:
  1. I founded a Horse and Pony Club in my home town when I was 13 years old. We didn't have one, and I wanted one. I was a bit of a 'make it happen' kind of girl from a very young age.
  2. As a child I liked to breed guinea pigs - actually they did that themselves without any help from me, other than the matchmaking and the introductions. 
  3. My first job was a regular summertime job - cutting apricots when a teenager. I did this every summer.
  4. My favourite comfort food is my Mum's creamed rice.
  5. I was an adventurous child and sometimes had my five sisters and brothers racing around the local township following treasure hunts I set up.
  6. Autumn is my favourite time of the year.
  7. I love to read historical fiction.
  8. I love going to live theater, but don't go often enough.
  9. I kept a diary for many years after reading The Diary of Anne Frank.
  10. The first story I ever wrote (that I can actually remember) was a story about going on a holiday to Fiji. I think it was for a newspaper competition.
  11. I still own a VCR and use it regularly to watch old movies that I haven't yet replaced with DVDs.
Answer's to Red's questions to me:

Question 1: What's your favourite colour?
Answer: Green - definitely green.
Question 2: What is the absolute BEST thing to eat?
Answer: Always and forever - smoked salmon. Just writing about it means that it's highly likely I'll go out and buy some later today.

Question 3: You're on a desert island and you can choose one person to join you. Who is it? 
Answer:  This doesn't specify real or fictional, so I will choose a fictional character because their character is largely confined to what is written about them - you know what you're going to get - no surprises. I'd choose Captain Wilton Parmenter from the 60s TV comedy, F-Troop. He is so cheerful and accommodating and always makes me laugh. He's always so gullible too, so I'd always get my own way, without trying too hard.

Question 4: What scares you rigid?
Answer: Having to do role-plays whenever I do work training of any sort.

Question 5: What's your favourite way to pass the time on a long journey.
Answer: I'll be able to answer that better after my trip from Australia to Europe later this year, but I think reading and crossword puzzles are pretty good. 

Question 6: Where are you going for your next holiday"
Answer: See previous question - EUROPE!!! Especially Paris.

Question 7: If you were to visit and/or travel in Australia, what would you most like to see?
Answer: I'd like to spend some time in Perth, in Western Australia, but not in the summer, if their last one can be used as a guide. 

Question 8: What's your favourite book?
Answer: Random Harvest by James Hilton.

Question 9: What's your most popular blog post (define that however you like!)?
Answer: Probably a couple of posts that haven't been posted yet - scheduled for the upcoming Mine to Avenge blog tour. I have written two character interviews with two of the main characters from the novel. they were such fun to do.

Question 10: What was your mo st embarrassing moment?
Answer: This was easy to decide. I was about 17 or 18 when the movie 'Grease' first came out, and at the time I was living in a tertiary accommodation hostel. I had a crush on the spunky Italian guy living in the room next door to mine, and he took me to see the movie. I dressed up to look the part in a gold full-skirted sixties style dress, but while we were standing around in the foyer waiting for the movie to start, my half-slip elastic broke, and the slip ended up in a silken heap around my ankles, with the full golden skirt essentially transparent. I somehow managed to fix it to sit through the movie, but I know I didn't remember it much at the time. I didn't leave my room for about a week after that, having my friends bring meals to my room instead. 

Question 11: What's your favourite quote?
Answer: At the moment, it's the Winston Churchill quote I use at the front of my novel - 'Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance.'

Here are the questions for the bloggers at the blogs I've tagged:
  1. Who knows you best in life?
  2. If you could spend your life doing anything you like, what would it be?
  3. What is your earliest memory?
  4. What lifts you up when you are feeling down?
  5. What are you most thankful for in life?
  6. If you were given $1000, what would you spend it on?
  7. Are you a hot weather person or a cold weather person?
  8. Name one thing on your bucket list.
  9. What is your favourite movie?
  10. What is your favourite 'get away from it all place'?
  11. What piece of advice do you hand out most often?
Here are the 11 blogs I've tagged:

Have fun responding to this, bloggers, and keep up the good work with your very entertaining blogs.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Liebster Blog Award - Mark 1

I have recently been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by Red Nomad Oz from Amazing Australian Adventures. The award is an award bestowed upon bloggers by their blogging peers. The word 'Liebster' is German with a range of meanings, such as 'sweetest', 'kindest', 'dearest', 'beloved', 'lovely', 'kind', pleasant', 'valued' and 'endearing'. The award acknowledges bloggers' talent, and by nominating someone, you indicate that they are some of your personal favourites in the blogging world.

When I first learned I had been nominated, my heart plummeted to my boots. Why did I feel this way after receiving this honour from a blogging colleague? It was because I was nominated for this award in the middle of last year, but that initial nomination came at a time when I was moving house and starting a new job and was overlooked and forgotten in the busy-ness of that time. This initial nomination came from Liesel Hill at L.K.Hill.

However, receiving the second nomination reminded me of the first and I searched until I found the details I had saved, and have contacted Liesel to apologise for the oversight. What I have found interesting though is that in the space of the ten months between nominations, the conditions of the award have changed, a bit like Chinese Whispers. With the first nomination last year, one of the main criteria was that the blog had to have fewer that 200 followers and the award was to be passed on to ten more bloggers. However, the second nomination came from the wonderful Red Nomad Oz who has far more than 200 bloggers and the award is passed on to eleven more bloggers.I have decided to address each nomination individually in separate posts, so today's post addresses the initial nomination from L.K.Hill

I'd like to thank Liesel very much for her nomination. She is an author who writes over three separate genres - sci-fi fantasy, crime and historical fiction.

Here is how the Liebster Blog Award works - 
  1. The nominated blogger must post 10 facts about themselves.
  2. They must then answer 10 questions from the blogger who nominated them.
  3. Then nominate 10 bloggers and give them 10 questions to answer.
  4. Link to your ten bloggers in your blog post.
  5. Let the bloggers know you have nominated them.
  6. Don't nominate the blogger who nominated you.
Let's start with ten facts about me:
  1. I am the eldest of six children - this came with responsibilities I wasn't very happy about, such as frequent babysitting and having to set a good example all the time.
  2. My best subjects at school were English and foreign languages - which I've since forgotten - not the English, just the foreign languages.
  3. I am a calligrapher and an artist as well as an author.
  4. My favourite food is smoked salmon - it often doesn't even make it to a plate - usually eaten straight from the pack.
  5. I have a large collection of Kinder Surprise toys.
  6. I have a large classic movie collection - favourite star is Cary Grant.
  7. I love Paris apartment style decor and am setting up my house that way.
  8. I am a person who thrives on solitude rather than a people person.
  9. I used to make teddy bears - lots and lots of teddy bears.
  10. I am a trained teacher and a trained mental health worker.
Answers to the questions from Liesel -

Question 1: How long have you been blogging for?
Answer: 11 months

Question: Why did you start a blog?
Answer: I started A Novel Journey to record the publishing journey of my novel, Mine to Avenge, and as my first step on my author platform.

Question 3: What has been your weirdest experience with blogging?
Answer: I think this has to be the occasional spam comments through the dashboard that have nothing whatsoever to do with the blog. It is why I now choose to moderate the submitted comments.

Question 4: What is your favourite book?
Answer: Random Harvest, by James Hilton

Question 5: Who is your favourite author?
Answer: C.S. Lewis

Question 6: What do you want to be when you grow up/what is your profession?
Answer: When I grow up, I'd like to work as an author or calligrapher - in the meantime, I currently work as Case Manager in a Parenting After Separation program.

Question 7: How many books do you think you might have?
Answer: Not enough. Seriously though, I don't know. Not as many as I have had. I still have some in storage, and others I have had to give away as I have moved a lot. It's always heartbreaking and difficult for me to cull my books. I often find myself buying them back again later.

Question 8: Do you prefer reading a proper book or an e-book?
Answer: I like either - e-books are great when you have to 'strap-hang' on the bus or when travelling on holiday, when you can take a whole library with you, without having the weight of the books. I still love holding a traditional book as well, and can't see myself giving them up either.

Question 9: If you could choose to live one character's life in a book, who would it be?
Answer: Anne of Green Gables, I think. She is much like who I dreamed I was - and I was crazily in love with Gilbert Blythe.

Question 10: If you were stranded on a desert island, what ten items would you want to have with you?
Answer: A copy of Random Harvest, dark chocolate, a stash of pens and pencils (note: this is one stash), a stash of paper (ditto), my teddy bear, cappucino yogurt, smoked salmon, slippers, ginger beer, and a photo album with lots of pics of my three boys.

Here are the questions for the bloggers at the blogs I have tagged to receive the Liebster Award -
  1. What is your favourite city in the world and why?
  2. What was your first job after you left school?
  3. What was your favourite toy?
  4. If you could choose any animal as a pet what would it be and why?
  5. Which season is your favourite and why?
  6. Which fictional character would you like to invite to dinner and why?
  7. Who is your favourite film star?
  8. Do you ever lend books to your friends?
  9. What is your favourite place to have a picnic?
  10. Describe your ideal day in twenty words or less.
Here are the blogs I've tagged and nominated for the Liebster Blog Award:
  1. Sonia Fogal - A Journey Through the Woods 
  2. Elaine Jeremiah 
  3. Edel's Book and Beauty Blog 
  4. Brook Cottage Books 
  5. E.J.Rycer 
  6. The Australian Bookshelf 
  7. Daystarz's Books 
  8. The Never Ending Bookshelf 
  9. Book Muster Down Under 
  10. Lost in a Good Book 
 Congratulations bloggers. Keep up the good work. I enjoy following you and am sure others do too.