Seven experiences in six weeks

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I’m not exactly sure where the last six weeks have gone. It’s been a blur of activity, but I think things are starting to fall into a bit of a rhythm again. Here’s what’s been going down…

One. It all started with attending the 25th annual Romance Writers of Australia ‘Ain’t Love Grand’ conference in Adelaide. It was fantastic – excellent speakers and presenters, a fab cocktail party and a glamorous gala dinner, and of course some new writing friends and contacts. I have so many notes and pieces of paper from the different workshops, but I am yet to put them in some kind of order. It’s on my to-do list.

Two. The fun that was #RWAus16 came to a grinding halt on the Sunday afternoon when I had a phone call from home. My plans to go out to dinner with a new mate before flying home the next morning were cancelled while I changed my flights to get in earlier (apparently the insurance you click ‘yes’ for when buying flights doesn’t cover the cost for flight changes, nor does a crying blubbering mother emit any sympathy from the person who is on the other end of the line happily charging your credit card to do so) to get to my son who was in ICU after being air-lifted to hospital 2.5 hours from home.

clouds - white clouds - flying - blue skies

Fun times. Anyway. So apparently, if the throttle gets stuck on a motorbike and you are going down a gravel hill and around a corner at the same time, it is possible you will go end-for-end over the handlebars and you will rupture your spleen… as my son did, landing him two nights in ICU followed by another six nights in the paeds ward. Staying immobile for the first five days with a grade 3-4 rupture is mind-numbling boring for a nearly eight year old, I’ll just let you know quietly. And I never realised quite how out of whack your body gets when you haven’t been allowed to sit up for five days – wobble wobble on little legs he went when finally permitted to get up and walk around.

The hospital visit was followed by another week off school {Think: daily Monopoly games that sometimes went for a couple of hours, until one or the other went bankrupt…} He had a check up ultrasound last week and it looks like a normal spleen again and the internal bleeding has gone. But. Just as were his instructions when we left hospital (no risky activities for three months in case he gets a knock to his guts and it ruptures again), this means he still has another two months of no playgrounds, tramps, contact sports, running and definitely NO BIKES. He’s being surprisingly restrained, but it is difficult. And, you know, school holidays…

Three. I finished the Copywriting Essentials course and I’m now in the process of learning about the business side of copywriting. I loved learning about it, and considering I actually have a degree in Business (Marketing), it was nice to get back into something marketing related. This is a whole other post on its own, for another day.

Four. In terms of the anthology, after numerous edits from my group’s comments, I sent my piece off to the editor. That has come back, and I’m pretty happy with it. Nothing major needs changing and it has all been an exciting process. I think I’ve learnt more from the editing side of things over the last couple of months than anything else before.

Five. On the manuscript side of things, I gained some clarity with it (finally!) at the conference, and am ready to sit down and attack it. There will be some major changes and probably an entire re-write of the first 40,000 words, but I’m okay with that. This also leads to a pretty exciting adventure in July 2017 (and back in South Australia), but as it is still so far away I am going to wait until the New Year to announce exactly where I’m off to.

Six. What else has happened… oh, very important! My youngest brother got married to a pretty awesome gal, so that was a lovely highlight last weekend. All three siblings are now married off, and according to my mum in her speech, the spouses aren’t allowed to give us back. I’m cool with that 😉

wedding rings - engagement rings - diamonds - gold - white gold - silver

The wedding bands of my family – mum, me, two brothers

Seven. Finally, in terms of the farm, all the corn and sorghum has been harvested and they are nearly finished the earlier wheat. It has been hot here the last couple of days, so the chick peas are ripening very quickly and it won’t be long before they are being taken off also.

I think that just about covers my exciting life for the last little while. The #JustWrite September prompt wasn’t forgotten, it simply didn’t rate in importance with everything else that was going on! It will be back in October 🙂

So tell me… Has everything been going smoothly at your place lately?

Or have there been a few bumps along the way? 

Do you have kids who are home for school holidays?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gift guide for writers and readers

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I thought I would do a post on what to buy a writer when you need to get them a gift. Many of these would also double as presents for readers. In no particular order:

  • Notebooks, pens, pencil cases – or just stationery in general. There are plenty of cool shops online such as Typo, kikki.K, and Moleskine to name just a few. A writer can never have enough notebooks or pens!

  • Spineless Classics – this is an awesome store that prints an entire story onto a poster. So find out what the favourite story of the person you are buying for is, and see if they offer it. Get it framed, and voila! A very original gift idea.
  • Scrivener – a software tool that not only allows for a story to be written, but research can be stored there, ideas can be shuffled with the index cards, character notes are available, and it is possible to go all the way through to compiling your story for self-publication or submission to publishers.
  • For those who are new to Scrivener, such as myself, it can seem a little daunting with the endless possibilities. However, there are numerous learning guides to help you with what to do. I have ‘Scrivener for Dummies’, but there are more to choose from.
  • External hard drives and USB’s. Because we all like to back-up our work. None of us want to lose our many, many words from different stories that we have pumped out over time or are currently working on. There would be tears, I can assure you…
Credit I think this guy just lost his work...

Credit
I think this guy just lost his work…

  • Online writing course voucher – there are many writing centres across Australia, each of which offer courses to learn and/or better your writing skills. Why not help your friend along with a voucher so that they can choose a course of their liking. Personally, I have done courses through the Queensland Writers Centre and the Australian Writers’ Centre.
  • Writing/reading related jewellery – there are a few shops around; for example, this one is on etsy.
  • Scrabble or other word-related games. This is self-explanatory.

So, what do you think? Do you have any to add? There really are endless possibilities, depending on how practical or quirky you feel like being with your gifts!

 

 

Curve ball

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Sometimes life throws you a curve ball, that is not only unexpected but also completely and utterly unfair.

One of those bastard balls has hit my family this week, smack in our hearts, and while we are grieving now, I know that eventually there will be a time and a place where laughter will once again reign over tears and heartache.

In the meantime though, grief has the upper hand and there is a little boy without a mother, a husband without a wife, parents without their daughter and siblings without their sister.

It is just fucking unfair.

Jet skis and tubes should be banned

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This post is a public service announcement. It generally comes around quarterly, and is basically my “No, I’m not dead, it’s just school holidays” post.

How come my kids get 17 days over Easter when I only remember getting 10 days? Hmm?

So yes, Easter has come and gone. We had four days and nights at our local dam, spent skiing, kneeboarding and tubing. It was glorious glassy water on Thursday and the three adults who were out there early managed to get three ski’s in each that day. Just quietly, I’ll say it was splendid. The worst day on the water was Easter Sunday. Extra boats, a couple of jet skis and that water was only good for tubes. It nearly made the water-skiiers cry, because at the very end of the dam where fewer boats travelled, it was a slippery heaven of smooth water. Alas, to get there on a ski, it was nearly knees so bent your arse was just about touching the water to get over the waves. Sigh.

Hubby at the end of a lap

Hubby at the end of a lap

We arrived back home with exhausted children, parents just as tired, and too much chocolate left in the fridge. There were two nights for the kids to display their endearing qualities (just joking, they were back to scratching out each other’s eyes half an hour after getting home – after four days of nearly no fights) and then their cousin arrived with my sister-in-law. Sleep-overs, numerous swims, a cut-throat game of UNO and a motorbike ride for the boys has seen them end up a little tuckered out again. A quiet day today I think!

Bikers

Bikers

In the meantime though, there are still nine days left for them to truly get to know how to push each other’s buttons in just the right way to elicit a squeal (or slap) from the other. Joyous times.

Personally, I will be working on all three of my writing projects (pfft…), BUT, what I will also be planning is series of posts on how to run a successful fundraiser. In May 2014, I organised a fundraiser night in memory of my Dad, that raised money for the Leukaemia Foundation. We ended up with a grand total of $39,934, and I think that is a pretty bloody good amount for the small town that it was held in. There are some spectacular events held that raise even more moolah than what we did, but I learnt an awful lot in the twelve month lead-up to it, and think it is only fair to pass some of that knowledge along. I just need to work out a good order to put it all in!

How was your Easter? Did you go camping?

Have you assisted with or organised a fundraiser?

Wrap-up on rain and writing and in-between

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We were really starting to think that we weren’t going to be planting any sorghum this year. You know, no rain and all. But in the last 9 days we have had over 9 inches, so it’s safe to say it is wet at our place. In fact, maybe even too wet to plant, if it doesn’t dry out soon before the curtain closes on the planting period! So we’ll see. But as Nigel says, you can plant in mud but not in dust. It may simply mean we plant something different at a later date.

The calm after the storm

                     The calm after the storm

It’s a busy day for the kids today. After school there is guitar lessons for the 7 year old and tennis lessons for the 9 year old. Both new activities, and both are super excited to start them. I can foresee tennis being rained out though, as the storms have been rolling in around four pm each day… Hmm.

I started the day with some laps at the pool, and managed to get in 17.5 before a god-awful cramp hit my calf muscle. Ouch! So I pulled up stumps, grabbed a coffee and I’m now perched in my little corner of the library watching the weather through my window.

I’m slowly catching up on the Australian Writers’ Centre podcasts (they’re at number 94, but I’m still at 52) for ‘So you want to be a writer’, which I listen to in the car or while ironing or wandering around the house doing my jobs. They are bloody awesome. I was a late starter to them and am quite enjoying listening to them in order. One tip I’ve just heard is to write character page notes for those in your novel. That is, you have a page for each character with their important information like hair colour, habits, etc, that you might forget or accidentally change half way through your novel. So, I’ve just written down each of my characters and skimmed through what I have written so far in both my manuscript and notes (through a number of different notebooks – I really need to condense them into one!) and put their details on each separate page. And guess what – I had forgotten that I had written that my main female character has black hair and blue eyes. I have been imagining her with blonde hair as I write. So there you go.

What are you up to today? Writing? Any after-school activities? 

 

School’s back! Yes, yes it is!

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So. School went back today. Are you a parent – how did you go? Cry at the school gate or leave the school skipping and laughing hilariously?

For my kids, they’ve started at a new school. We haven’t moved, just changed which direction we drive out the front gate now. They used to catch the bus 24.7 kms away, which continued on to school which was a further 18kms. But I worked out that by the time I came to town regularly for parent help, shopping, after school activities and so on and so forth, I wasn’t really saving myself many kilometres using the bus.

So now, we travel 32.5kms to get to the other school. A tiny bit further for me when I go in and out twice a day, but when I stay in – like today – it’s that little bit shorter all round. And my mother-in-law comes to town once a week for pottery, and has offered to do the school run on that day. Also, both neighbours on either side of us have already been going in our new direction for a few years… It just makes more sense for us, yeah?

My two weren’t worried about changing schools, which has saved a lot of heartache, as they both know enough kids at their new place that they weren’t going in ‘blind’ and knowing no-one. And the littlest has settled in extremely well into her new daycare.

Today has been an easy morning at drop-off, followed by some laps at the pool, coffee and an early lunch with some mates, and now I’m perched at a table in the air-conditioned library getting in three and a half hours of critiquing, blogging and writing before pick-up. Then we have to wait for an hour and a half before we can go to tennis sign-on and head home. A full day, but boy am I glad to be back into the routine of school.

PS. I may have been in the category of the mum in the meme above!

Am writing, am reading, am doing

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How’s everyone going these school holidays? Coping? Doing exceptionally well? Or ready to chuck the kids back into the school system a week early even if they won’t be supervised? We are doing ok, with occasional bouts of intense sibling squabbles. You know how it goes… Here’s a round-up for me this last week or so:

READING:

So, after reading The Lake House, I’ve continued on to read A.L. Tait’s final book Breath of the Dragon in The Mapmaker Chronicles series. They are great books for young readers to clap eyes on, and let their imaginations run wild.

I am currently reading two books at once: On Writing by Stephen King and All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. King’s book is recommended as The Book To Read if you dream of being a writer/author but until now I had never delved into it. He has some great ideas and  interesting theories on not only writing but also life. I haven’t finished yet, but am enjoying it so far. Toews’ novel is interesting, and as the quote by Margaret Atwood on the front cover says, it is “funny but wrenchingly sad” and for what I have read to this point, this is a very succinct statement.

WRITING:

Anthology – the next exercise that is leading towards our finished pieces is due Sunday and I finished that last night. I’ll leave it a couple of days and then go back and edit it before posting it for the group to critique.

Manuscript – editing what I have previously written and swapping the order of a few bits as suggested by my writing group. I’m having fun with it again and look forward to being able to work on it. Once I’m through with these edits I’ll get back to the proper writing again. Do you edit as you go or just vomit it all out onto paper or screen and edit at the very end?

FARM:

We’re still waiting for decent rain! There have been a few little showers (11mm, 22mm, 3mm) but at the moment they’ve been good for nothing except grow weeds and grass in the paddocks. So Nigel has been spraying the last few days to get on top of the feathertop and weeds, but we can’t plant any sorghum yet until it rains properly. The nice green tinge that was on my lawn is slowly disappearing so I’d best water it in the next couple of days.

EVERYTHING ELSE:

We had two nights out at the dam for New Year’s Eve and New Year. The first day was great – a bit of skiing, nice enough weather (it’s wasn’t melting hot) and not too many boats on the water at all. The next day though, the boat had a bit of a hissy fit and so we were left to kayak, swim and laze about. It didn’t end up being a terrible thing, as the dam was inundated with boats for New Year’s day festivities and quite frankly the water was rather choppy. With the water level down a bit also, it doesn’t leave much room for too many boats on the water.

The 3.5 year old on the kneeboard by herself, with dad next to her on another

The 3.5 year old on the kneeboard by herself, with dad next to her on another

Heading off to check the pots for red-claw

Heading off to check the pots for red-claw

The kids and I have just been to Rocky for a couple of nights to do back-to-school shopping. Now we just have to pick up the school books from the local Newsagency and uniforms from the school and we are set. The lady who sold us our school shoes said that she had done 17,000 steps in one day in her shop and lost a kilogram in a week it has been that busy! Craziness.

Today sees us heading to the pool in town with a few other kids and lunch at the pub after. So very civilised 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your week!