Friday, 30 August 2013

Cephalopod Coffeehouse bookclub & Goal update (LMG revisions)

Today it's the monthly Cephalopod Coffeehouse book club meeting, hosted by the very groovy Armchair Squid. I'm sharing some medium-sized book reviews.

 Bitter Like Orange Peel - Jessica Bell :: Jessica Bell's latest offering is the story of a messed-up family riddled with secrets and lies. Over the course of the book, the great blanket of lies begins to unravel, with that saying "the truth will out" being constantly proven. Honestly, I sometimes wondered if this family would ever get its poo together. And I'm not really sure they did, even by the book's end. At least I can say they made progress. Jessica Bell is a beautiful writer with a knack for writing "difficult", complicated characters. Most of the characters in this book I wanted to slap really hard a lot of the time. The end of the book didn't feel like much of an end - more like there was a clean slate and the family finally had a chance to start fresh. Without lies, this time. I feel like I need to wish them good luck!

True Grit - Charles Portis :: Quite a few years ago, one of my aunties told me I should read this book. Now that I finally have, I can see what she meant when she told me, "It's fantastic!" I loved it to bits. The character of Mattie Ross is truly loveable and admirable, and as one review in a famous magazine said, she sure knows what it means to have "true grit". There were other characters to get a kick out of, too, a colourful cast of people with really cool names like "Rooster" Cogburn, La Boeuf, and Lucky Ned Pepper. Tom Chaney was a good name for an "outlaw" too, I suppose. But Rooster was a great character who really did have the "true grit" Mattie was seeking in others all through the book. I can definitely see myself re-reading this book in future. And I'll have to check out the movie, even if I'm not convinced it can do the book justice.

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult :: I finally read this, many years after it was first "hot", and can say that it's a great book. I wasn't expecting the  ending, and I hear they changed it in the movie - I can imagine how they might've done so, but I'd have to watch it to find out. Which I will do, someday. In this book, characters do things I totally did not agree with, but I could still see their reasons, and understand their predicaments. Jodi Picoult writes family pain and characters in crisis so well, and makes you hurt along with them. Sometimes I did feel that I was being manipulated (like with at least one scene narrated by Anna that just verged on a bit too dramatic), but I guess these characters had the right to some dramatic flair!

Sister - Rosamund Lupton :: I remember reading about this book on somebody's blog and thinking I would have to read it. I've done so now, and I really enjoyed the read, even if I found it quite a strange experience. The story was gripping, and for the most part well written, but I found Lupton's use of commas really odd. And yet her book was generally written in a beautiful, poetic style. The story itself? Very gripping, and with a gasp-worthy, haunting twist at the end. In the back of the copy I read, there's an interview with the author where she is asked a question about the twist - did that really happen? She answers that she feels it did, but that it's up to the individual reader to make up their own mind. I'm the sort of person who can't really believe something's real unless there is 100% blatant "yes, it is real and here is all the proof" confirmation. So I'm not really sure what I believe. But I'm sure as heck still wondering. So, if you like crime/thriller from an amateur sleuth perspective, I definitely recommend this read.

Also today is the Do You Have A Goal? (DYHAG for short, or so I'm referring to it) monthly bloghop, which is hosted by Misha Gericke.

The goal I chose was to:

So, how have I done with this goal since I signed up for Misha's hop?

Tomorrow is the last day of August. I have so far sent chapters 1-4 of LMG to a CP and got feedback. I have since sent chapters 5-6 off, and doubt I'll get feedback before August ends. There are twenty chapters in this novella. So, I guess you could say I didn't achieve my goal. And you want to know why? I'm a slacker. That is the sole reason for it. I should have read through the whole thing by now and polished it up, fleshed it out where it needs fleshing, etc.. But instead I have watched the entire series of Gilmore Girls.

And it's been awesome.

So, yeah, I totally blame myself for not meeting my goal. But luckily I'm not that miserable about it. I'm content to just keep on plugging away at this thing. Because it's true that I really should just work on one writing project at a time. When I try to do bits of everything, I do nothing.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Travel Series: FRANCE (1998)

Last time in this travel series, I was telling you guys about our time in Italy in 1998. From Italy we drove to the French Riviera, passing through Monaco, Nice, etc., on our way back to France. You might recall we had previously passed through France on the way to Switzerland, but after Italy we were heading back to France to do things properly. I'm guessing that from Nice we headed north to Lyon, and then to Paris.

Heading for Nice, Marseilles, etc.
As close as I got to the Tour.

On the 7th of May we made it to Paris, and I wrote the following postcard to Mum:

Date: 7/5/98
Place: Paris, France

Unfortunately, due to my present condition (homesick, sore neck, travelling with Dad) I'm unable to enjoy this famous city as I usually would (I think). The only thing that cheers me slightly is that we're gonna have a coffee. I've seen the Tour d'Eiffel and I'm gonna see the Louvre, so what do I have to complain about...?


Yes, I admit I was really fed up with old Daddo by this point, and vice versa. But we were sore (pretty sure I had a neck vertebra out of alignment), tired and stressed out. For introverted me, it had been pretty wearing existing in such close quarters with Dad for all these long months. But I still managed to enjoy Paris, and here's how:

  • Dad's funny pronunciations of French places/names, i.e. "Mooli", "Chomps Eleese"
  • A quote from Dad that is now famous in my family:
    • "... two guys came up to [Dad] and asked, 'vous parlez anglaise?' and he said, 'sorry, I only speak English', and they said, 'we were asking you if you spoke English'."
  • Drinking wine in the car outside the Ritz where Princess Diana had been staying that fateful night - to Dad's fascination and my horror, a busload of tourists rocked up and created a veritable discotheque of flash photography
  • I checked out CD prices and thought they were very decent - 4 Francs 30 each (yep, it was Francs back then: "liberté, égalité, fraternité"!)
  • I had a crepe (chocolate and hazelnut sauce) served by a lovely French waitress who gave me a free postcard and told me my French was "très bien"
  • I finally visited the Louvre, though the first day I tried it was closed (about a week earlier there had been a theft of a work by Corot)
  • And yes, I saw the Eiffel Tower (see above).
I remember this better from last year's (2012) visit.
Outside the Louvre.
I have no recollection of these dudes.
Grumpy on the day the Louvre was closed.
And I finally got inside.

We stayed in Paris longer than in many other places we visited, solely because of the Louvre being closed that first time I tried to get in. Having studied art history in school, Paris was one of the places I had been most excited about. But I now realise this wasn't actually the end of my 1998 trip (shows how foggy one's memory can get). From France we travelled on through Luxembourg into Germany, where we stayed with some family. So next time, I'll talk about all that. For today, I'll leave you with a link to a page I've created that has links to all my Globetrotter posts to date. Click HERE.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ten Years Later ... Blogfest

Today is the 10 Years Later ... blogfest, hosted by Angeline Trevena and Laura E. Brown. I think this is a very groovy idea for a 'fest indeed. If only there were more participants, I think it could be even groovier. But never fear, folks, there is still time to sign up! Click here to find the linky. And check out the details of the 'fest:

Have you ever read or written a book that's had you so intrigued, so immersed, that you're left wondering what happened to the characters after the story ends? The Ten Years Later... Blogfest gives your characters the chance to return, the chance to tell their story ten years after you stopped writing it. 
Choose one of your characters from one of your stories, and imagine them ten years after the story ends. Give them a voice a decade later. 
You can write your post in any format you like - a journal entry, a newspaper article, a piece of flash fiction, an interview, or even an obituary. 

And the character I've chosen for my post is Nausicaa, a.k.a. Natasha. Here is what Natasha has to say ten years after she helped to overthrow a brutal, corrupt government:

Sometimes it's hard to believe I'm still alive. Not just because I came so close to dying numerous times before the liberation, but because for the last ten years I really haven't known what the hell to do with myself. People have found me things to do, of course. They tell me I'm useful, definitely much more than a waste of space. But I know the truth, which is that this life can never be as meaningful as the one I led before.
In those days I was fighting against a corrupt regime. I was sneaking through shadows, slipping through cracks. I was saving lives. Nowadays, I stand on a street corner handing out fliers and giving people directions. I deliver lunch orders in the business district, and even manage one company's incoming post. Not really as useful as helping to take down a brutal, tyrannical government, is it?
Ten years ago when I first returned to this city, I walked the streets and slowly came to realise that I was supposed to feel free. Kyam's regime had fallen, the prisons had been emptied, and there was no longer any reason to be afraid. I was supposed to feel free.
I still don't. And I'm still afraid. Kyam's gone, his cronies too, but his legacy remains, a permanent blight we can't ever scrub clean. Scarier than all that, though, is that I don't feel at home in this reality. I feel like I belong back there, in the time when all my friends were alive and we were still fighting.
Naturally I don't tell anyone this, 'cause they think I'm crazy enough as it is. But it's how I feel, and I can't see it changing.
Anyway, I've got to go - the lunch orders are almost ready.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Write ... Edit ... Publish (edited with my Holiday "story")

Today we kick off the very first Write ... Edit ... Publish monthly bloghop, and my post appeared too early. So early, in fact, that I hadn't even written it yet! I've edited now and here is my post for the bloghop. For the record, I usually hate to schedule stuff on the off chance something like this will happen, but this month I had sooo much on that I thought it was the only way of remembering to post everything. Clearly, though, it's better to forget stuff than schedule if you're not able to stay on top of even that. ;) Anyway, here is the info about this bloghop:

  1. SUBMIT your name to the Inlinkz list below NOW if you wish to participate
  2. CREATE your entry according to the monthly theme - August = VACATION. More infohere
  3. EDIT your entry until it sparkles
  4. POST your entry on your blog/facebook on the dates shown - remember to state feedback preferences (full critique to general comments) and whether your work is copyrighted - ©
  5. READ other entries, giving feedback as requested
Open to all genres - Fiction works can be - Adult, YA, MG. All entries maximum 1,000 words or thereabouts.

For feedback I am happy to just get general thoughts or really nitpicky ones - whatever you want to give and whatever comes into your mind as you read. My work is not copyrighted except that it is to me, if you know what I mean? But yeah, it's not a published work elsewhere. And with that out of the way, here is my submission, which measures at 780 words (and, sadly, it's not yet sparkling. But I'll continue to work on editing it):

I arrive on Vatulele Island on a private jet, and am transferred immediately to a sleek car that takes off from outside the airport with a soft hum. As we drive along Vatulele’s east coast, I keep my face plastered to the window. The beach is all blinding white sand and bright azure sea, and while we’ve definitely got gorgeous beaches back home, this is something else.
It must be pretty amazing if it can distract me from this sleep deprivation. And from Jared, for that matter.
After only eight minutes on the road, we cut inland, moving into vibrant green jungle. I’m as mesmerised by what I’m seeing here as I was by the pristine water and searing sand. But still the only thing I want to see is Jared.
Seven more minutes pass before the car slows to a stop. I step out onto firmly packed earth and find myself in the middle of the jungle. Except when I turn around, there’s a white plaster archway and a narrow pathway beyond it, winding upward to places unknown. I feel like some princess on the outskirts of a fantasy world. I should probably pinch myself just to make sure I’m really here. But my hands are kind of full with a purse and camera.
My driver ushers me up the walkway, and I move steadily upward, shaded by surrounding jungle. I reach a turn in the path where going right gives a glimpse of a bright turquoise pool glittering in wait below. Turning left takes me up some stairs to a doorway leading into the most amazing-looking villa I’ve ever seen.
I try not to run as I head up the stairs and inside, where white walls are decorated by ancient artefacts and other beautiful artworks. As I turn right, I’m quickly blinded by sunlight streaming in from tall, rectangular windows. Everything glows. I stand there awestruck, wondering how little working class me can possibly fit into this world.
I step forward, hungry for more.
The living area is an artwork in and of itself. I just want to perch on one of those bright white couches and take a moment to drink in every little detail. Underfoot I see red and white flower petals spelling out a word of greeting: BULA. I break into a smile and find that it’s soon stuck in place. I can’t dislodge it, and it’s starting to hurt my face.
I dump my purse and camera on the coffee table in between two couches, then walk to the left where a door leads to a balcony overlooking the lagoon. My eyeballs are seared by the blinding blue of ocean and sky, the bedazzling white of the sand even at this distance, and the light refracting off the white building I’m standing in.
Then a voice sounds behind me, and my heart stutters in my chest.
“Hi,” is all he says. Turning to face him, I see him smiling at me, a pair of sunglasses hiding his eyes. I regard him in mounting awe and suddenly feel all shy, even though we’re not nearly strangers anymore. We’ve learned a lot about each other in a short amount of time, this man and I.
“Hey,” I breathe, moving toward him feeling unsure of myself. But my smile is still firmly in place.
It’s not going anywhere.
“You like the place?” he asks, gesturing around him.
I stare at him like he’s grown two heads. “Like it?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“It’s beautiful. Enough to bring a tear to a girl’s eye…”
I trail off and shake my head, truly lost for words to describe it. Because I am a princess and this is my fairytale.
And he is my prince.
“It’s pretty cool, huh? I like the privacy. It’s…”
“Secluded,” I say with a smile. “Yeah, I can see the appeal for you.”
He moves toward me, gesturing towards a little table bearing a chiller full of ice and a glistening bottle. “You want champagne?”
“That…would be awesome. But there’s something else I need first.”
He pushes his sunglasses up and I see his eyes at last—they’re a colour far more searing than any ocean. They’re currently alive with a mixture of delight and passion. Something that’s missing, I realise, is nerves. I’m the only one who’s nervous here. But seeing him so comfortable helps to calm me down.
“If it’s in my power to do, I’ll do it,” he says.
“Oh, it’s in your power.”
He laughs. “Well, don’t keep me in suspense. What is it?”
“Kiss me.”
He pulls me closer, draws me into his arms. “Your wish is my command.”

Friday, 16 August 2013

[O&AM] Things I've inherited from my family

I've inherited a lot of things from my parents - Mum's green eyes, Dad's height. Oh, and this curly hair came at me from both directions. I also think I got my sarcasm from one of my aunties on Mum's side. But when I was little I was the spitting image of an aunty on my Dad's side, to the extent that Dad would often call me by her name. Oh, and my mum definitely loves to travel, but I think I got the "bug" from Dad.

There are also more bothersome things that run in my family:

  • Skin cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Arthritis

I already know I got hit with the cancer stick, though thankfully I've only had the "undeadly" kind so far. I also inherited that high cholesterol thing, so no matter how healthy I am my levels are probably going to be a little bit higher than most women my age. The arthritis may manifest itself later on in life, but for now I'm free of that.

There's one more thing I thank my family for passing onto me, and that's the creative genes that keep me busy and constantly inspired. So, I thank my family for the stuff they generously passed on to me. I'll even take the pesky health afflictions if it means I get to keep the rest. :)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Mina Lobo's THAT FATAL KISS {book cover reveal!}

Today I'm thrilled to be helping out my bloggy friend, the very sassy Mina Lobo, in revealing the cover of her debut novel That Fatal Kiss. Congratulations, Mina, your cover rocks!!

Mina Lobo has long held a passion for Greek mythology. The story of the goddess Persephone's marriage-by-kidnap to Hades, Lord of the Underworld, has particularly fascinated her, and thus came about Mina's debut novel, That Fatal Kiss. Coming September 2013, the revisionist tale features a fiery and noble heroine, a handsome and broody hero, and some heated, earth-shakin' lovin'!

Given Mina's self-professed neurotic nature, it took her and cover artist Steven Novak a few go-arounds before settling on the cover design for That Fatal Kiss. It had to be curiously compelling, slightly spooky, and yet super sexy—and so it is!

The Book:

Feared by mortals for his inexorable power, and loathed by his fellow Greek gods for the same, Hades rules the Underworld alone. A stark eternity looms before him until he discovers Persephone. Struck by the youthful goddess’ beauty, kindness, and spirit, he must have her. But Hades believes Persephone could never love him, and so he conspires with his powerful brother, Zeus, to take her by force.

Persephone too seeks a mate but her possessive mother, the goddess Demeter, frustrates her husband hunting. Then Hades abducts Persephone, tearing her away from the Upperworld she loves to reign with him in the dank depths below. Though outraged, Persephone cannot deny the desire ignited within her by the dark lord’s touch. And even as she hopes that Demeter will unearth her, Persephone aches to surrender to the heat in Hades’ immortal soul.

The Teaser:
“Enough,” Hades said, closing the distance between them. “I have taken you with your father’s consent, as custom allows. You are in my kingdom, under my rule, and if you have any care for your continued well-being, you will get into my bed. Now.” And with the removal of the pins that held together the black cloth about his waist, he stood naked before her.

The anger warming Persephone clashed with another fire that roared to life within her. She choked on a breath and turned her face from him. “Be warned; I will resist you with the full force of my being, through violent means, if necessary.”

His large, unyielding hands encircled the soft flesh of her upper arms as he said, “If you must. Though your surrender to me would prove more satisfying to us both.”

The Author:

Mina Lobo has a lot of Scorpio action going on in her natal chart, which makes for a rather sybaritic and lust-driven Sagittarian. She aims for a wildly successful future as a writer of dark and whimsical romance while dodging the slings and arrows of her outrageous teenaged son, who's buggered off to college (hence the "Lite" in her Twitter handle, below). She enjoys comedic horror and alt rock, goth, & new wave music, as well as quality Belgian chocolates.

Mina invites you to keep abreast of updates regarding That Fatal Kiss, as well as the development of any new neuroses, by stalking her at her usual haunts:

Her blog: Some Dark Romantic
On Facebook: mina.lobo.1
On the Twitter: @GothMomLite
And GothMomLite Will Tumblr For Ya as well

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest

The name of this blogfest - or rather, this Gary fest - caught my attention immediately, and I knew I had to sign up. In fact, I kind of decided I had to sign up even before I knew what it was about. Ha. So here I am today to participate, but first I'll tell you what this *fest's about.

Announcing the "Anti-Blogfest Gary Fest" on August 12, a blog hop in honor of Mr. anti-blog hop himself, Gary at Klahanie
Hosted by

The rules are *very* simple.
Create the titles of three PG-13 rated blogfests you would never join - and then add a descriptive sentence or two. That's it! (see some hilarious examples here)

So, with that in mind, I would not recommend or participate in the following blogfests. Not ever.

  1. The Celebrate Your <3 of Hawaiian Pizza Blogfest - "hate Hawaiian pizza? get lost!"
  2. The Great Knit-Along 3-Week Blogfest - "knit as if your life depends on it"
  3. Stand Up Comedy Blog Festival - "post video of your own stand-up routine!"

Saturday, 10 August 2013

I went to the library, and took some photos

I thought I had a blogfest to post for today, but it turns out I got the dates wrong so after I spent like an hour composing this rather 'large' post, I realised I don't have to post it until early September. Ahhh well, at least it's ready to go now! I'm just usually not a "do stuff faaaar in advance" sort of gal.

Anyways, I do have something to talk about. The library. I joined a library at the start of this year, with a view to spending less money on books and still getting to read them. I borrowed three books and read them all within the three-week loan period. Returned them on time, no fines. And then that was it. No more visits to the library. No more books. Hey, I work in a library so I tend to visit one 5 out of every 7 days of the week, but still, no more visits to that other library for free books.

It's now August and I finally made myself go back. There are some Jodi Picoult books that have been on my TBR since 2009 that I have finally borrowed - albeit in large print format, as they're the only ones that aren't checked out to other patrons for months and months at a time with no availability date in sight - and currently I'm reading My Sister's Keeper. Then I saw Mum today and she said, "Remember to ask me if you want any Jodi Picoult books - I've got them all." And I'll bet they're not in large print or quite as dirty and worn as the ones I got from the library.

Now, pictures of my two cats and a recent sky view from out front of my place:

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Teensy tiny little writing slump?

I have actually set myself a little goal, and it is to get my novella ("Lost, Missing, Gone") polished up in time for QueryCon 2013 in September. I set this goal the other day, and even publicly recorded my goal (which I just wrote as "gole" ... wow, I'm going good ay?) over at Misha Gericke's Five Year Project blog. I haven't actually started polishing it yet, well not since I settled on it for realz as a goal - a single goal I will concentrate on to the detriment of all other goals. It's been polished previously, but more in a proof-reading sort of way than anything else. But at least I've chosen my single project, right?

Oh, wait, I have other stuff to get done - namely stuff for my musical collaboration reciprocation (I owe Billy some GarageBand files and two in particular) - and I also wanted to get a short story of mine polished enough to submit to a magazine by the end of this month of August. But I've been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls (yes, I do love that show) and that's just kind of taken up all my time. ;)

I've probably lost my writerly mojo a little bit ever since June (and BuNoWriMo) ended. At least I managed to get those 50k written, and then I moved house. Not long later, I also managed to add to those 50k until I was done with the story (in very rough draft form). But I'm sure the writing bug is going to come back and bite me in the butt at any moment. After all, I can feel the creativity bubbling away inside me. It's just not spewing out just yet. I guess you could say I've had a little break, and that little break may continue for a few more days. But I do hope that Gilmore Girls breaks its hold on me sometime soon.

Will I have to wait until I've finished all 7 seasons? (I'm on season 4 right now)

What's keeping you from your goals, if anything?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

I write music and here is some (Woody's A Girl)

As I mentioned on this blog back then, our album was released on July 12th. The band is Woody's A Girl and we have enough material for maybe 25 albums or something. ;) This is our first, so we have a long way to go! Anyway, I am always behind the times in announcing various things like, ummm, single releases and all that, so this is a belated update!

So far we've released not only the album but two singles from it, which you can locate for free download around the web. Just as a refresher, these are our two singles to date (click each image for a free download):

And the rest of the album can be streamed via our website, here.

Also just FYI, I wrote all these songs and I sing them. I performed the instruments on all the original demos but on these recordings my partner in crime Billy B. has done all the instrumentation. On some songs he has written additional music, for instance some songs didn't have bridges in the beginning but got them from Billy (like "The Obituary" and "Debutantes"). Other songs had their bridges all along (like "Red" and "Fall on Death"). So it's a real collaborative effort, and I'm quite excited about it!

Oh, and you can read the interview we did about our project(s)/album(s), etc., here.