Lest We Forget

Anzac Day. It’s a national day of remembrance held every year on April 25th

It stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps And commemorates all the Australian and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peace keeping missions and was originally devised to honour those who had served in the Gallipoli Campaign, the first engagement of World War 1. (1914-1918)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

As we won’t be partaking in the Dawn Service this year, I have decided to share a recipe for Anzac Biscuits. Yes, I said biscuit not cookie.

ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 125 g butter
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add sugar, rolled oats and coconut.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan, then add golden syrup and water.
  3. Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the liquid mixture.
  4. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Place walnut-sized balls of mixture on a greased tray and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.
  6. Biscuits will harden once cool.

For those of you reading this blog post and thinking: but I don’t have/can’t get my hands on any golden syrup there are substitutes, like honey, corn syrup and molasses.

Click here for more information about those substitutes and others that you can use in place of golden syrup.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Write Daily

5 reasons why you should write daily

There is a lot of conflicting advice surrounding this topic of why you should write daily or why you shouldn’t. Some, compare it to exercise by saying that you wouldn’t exercise daily so why would you want to write daily?

Well this is one mum of four who does exercise daily. Yes! And by exercise I don’t mean lifting weights or anything that strenuous… once upon a time I used to be able to do pull ups with absolute ease, but my upper body strength is not what it use to be, but I do walk up to forty-five minutes a day. I listen to music, I clear my head, and I inevitable plan out various scenes in my head.

Then I come home and I sit down and write what’s been flowing through my head for those forty-five minutes.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve talked about this topic before. But I think it needs to be mentioned again.

If you don’t write daily, you can’t hope to hone your skills as a writer, can you?

But what about writer’s burnout? Yes, it’s real and its completely different to writer’s block. But here’s the secret to surviving writer’s burnout.

DO NOT STOP WRITING!

I know, you think I’m crazy. I promise you I’m not.

Writing is hard. It’s often slow and painful. You think you’re never going to get to the end of the story or novel you’re writing. But I promise you, you will. If you keep at it. It’s not a race. It’s a marathon and in a marathon you have to pace yourself. If you don’t you won’t be able to keep up. And yes, sometimes I fall into a pit of anxiety worrying over deadlines and if I can actually write those 5,000 words that some anthology calls ask for. It’s scary and mind numbing. I tend to shy away from sci-fi for this very reason.

But at the end of the day, all you can do is try. Strive for those high possibly unattainable goals and maybe, just maybe you might get lucky enough to reach a few of them.

Publishing is harder. Trust me. And you do need a thick skin. I confessed to a friend in the early hours of this morning that I still feel as if my writing isn’t worth a damn. And yes, publishers keep taking a chance on me, and I do – often – pinch myself being able to consider myself a published author. Both in paying and non paying markets.

Self doubt can cripple authors. Old or new. But it’s no reason to give up.

So here’s 5 reasons why you should write daily.

  1. It’s habit-forming. And while I don’t know how true it is, I’ve heard it said that it only takes 21 days to form a habit.
  2. It’s cathartic. Keeping a journal, for instance is a way to release stress and tension. Getting lost in the creation of a fictional world can help take your mind of day-to-day worries because you’re getting involved in someone else’s.
  3. You’re practicing a skill. It’s like learning a language. If you don’t immerse yourself in the language you’ll soon forget it. The same can be said about the technical aspects of writing.
  4. It eliminates writer’s block. After a while you’ll find yourself tapping into that well of ideas because the words just flow and because the words are flowing the ideas do too.
  5. It will make you more organized. You might not think it but once the habit forms you’ll want to write. I actually feel anxious and frustrated if I can’t get even ten minutes to sit and work on a project that isn’t my blog.

Now, I don’t write a lot as I usually aim for 300 new words a day. Not much at all. Take this past week for instance… not a lot of words of fiction written but quite a lot was accomplished on my blog. And let me tell you, when I first decided to pick up my blog a year ago and get serious with active blogging, I sucked at writing lengthy blog posts. I still suck at writing lengthy blog posts sometimes. But I stick with it.

Writing fiction is no different. Now, there was a time where I didn’t write daily. And my heart and soul suffered for it. You see, writing for me is an escape. It’s cathartic and it’s taken a while, but as much as the self-doubt still grips me, I love the feeling of getting that sometimes elusive acceptance email in my inbox.

But it’s not all about the stories I’ve had published. I do more often than not write for myself. I write what I want to read or about topics that resonate. I put my characters through hell because real life isn’t always easy and fiction is no different.

 

 

Gargoyles and Grotesques

In the light of the fire that destroyed part of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I spent the day following the story and try to figure out a way to reflect on it while at the same time not rehashing everything that had been shared through all the various news services.

And as I was trawling through Pinterest an idea came to me.

What better way than to take a look at one of the iconic symbols of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Gargoyle and share a writing prompt.

Gargoyles are a popular choice of architectural design on churches because of the long held belief that they warded away evil spirits, and to divert rainwater.

The word “Gargoyle” originates from an old French word “Gargouille” meaning “throat” but it also describes the gurgling sound of water as it comes down the down pipe.

Technically architects call a waterspout on a building a gargoyle. If a stone carving does not carry water and has a face that resembles a creature, it is technically called a grotesque. And a strange beast which combines several different animals is called a chimera.

As I looked up, I caught sight of a gargoyle.

Happy writing everyone!

200 Followers

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Thank you all so much. You guys are beyond awesome! It’s been an incredible nine months since I hit my last milestone and so humbling to find myself at 200 followers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me.

I vowed back in June 2018 that I’d share more about my writing journey and my kids. I think I’ve succeeded in sharing more about my writing but not so much about my kids.

So, I thought I’d use this post to share a bit about the other side of my life, as a mum to four kids. Yep, four… crazy, right? It comes as a shock to some, actually. In fact, I’m asked a lot how I keep my sanity. Sometimes, I don’t. But sleep helps, that and copious amounts of coffee.

I love my kids to pieces, but they do at times drive me up the wall. My husband too, at times, but I guess that comes with the territory.

My eldest son is thirteen… a teenager, and it hasn’t sunk in yet. He’s outgrown me. (That hasn’t quite sunk in, either) I still find myself thinking of him as the same kid who surprised us all by reading at three and a half. He received Harry Potter at seven and devoured the books in quick succession. He’ll still pick them up and reread them to this day. He hates having to clean his room.

My daughter is quite a bit like me. She came into the world incredibly early, at not even a kilo and has left her mark every day since. At eleven she’s an absolute riot. Loves cats, horses and origami and hates the colour pink. Which according to her brother is the weirdest thing ever.

My next eldest son is ten and insanely smart and sometimes frustrating bundle of energy. I think he learnt to run before he learnt to walk, because he never stops. He loves Lego and minecraft and anything and everything space related and is slowly getting into fantasy books. He hates stir-fry and homework.

My youngest son is eight and has never quit trying to keep up with his older siblings. He loves trains, Peter Rabbit and Groot from the Marvel universe. His favourite colour is green. He’s broken bones and had stitches but I can’t think of a single thing he hates right now, when I do, I’ll be sure to share.

And that’s pretty much the snapshot into my kids and each of their very different personalities.

 

New Years Resolutions

Every year I set goals and every year I just don’t quite make it. Do, this year is the year I will. (Remind me to look back on this post on January 1st 2020)

So, what are my New Years Resolutions?

Well…

1. Write 300 words a day. No I don’t care that the word count is minuscule because it’s all that I can realistically handle without burning myself out.

2. Publish… something. Okay, this one is vague for a reason. Simple because I’d like to see the first three books in The Eldritch Series out before December 31st but I’m realistic and sometimes editing just isn’t in the budget.

3. Write weekly blogs. I’m open to ideas, do leave a comment about what you’d like to see.

4. Read more. Self explanatory, I think but I have quite a few books on my to be read pile that I didn’t get to in 2018, so I’m going to get to them in 2019.

Writers Block and How to Prevent it

062A0903-0290-4E84-A776-FDB4140EB813.jpegI come across a lot of writers complaining about writers block. They seem to all have one thing in common. How do you overcome it, and even better: How do you prevent it in the first place?

Firstly, some tips to overcome to overcome writers block.

– Go for a walk. A change of scenery and fresh air often brings about new ideas.

– Read a book. Often reading a book written by someone else is enough to trick the mind and get you in the mood to write again.

– Listen to music. Instrumental or songs with lyrics. Either can work.

– Create a routine. I’ve spoken of this before. Writing daily creates a habit, which in turn creates a want to write. A desire to write.

– Journal. Keeping a journal, while not fiction, is still writing and may help banish your creative block. At best, if it doesn’t banish your block, it will help clear your head.

Secondly, some tips on how not to overcome writers block.

– Television. It’s such a mindless activity but I do enjoy several tv shows. So to compensate I watch tv a little less. Or I write while watching tv.

– Refusing to write. While inspiration is one thing, you have to write something. Otherwise the well will just dry up. Don’t just wait around for you muse. Force her to show up.

– Procrastinating. Putting off writing is also not the way to overcome writers block. It’s the way to avoid it completely and counterproductive.

Lastly, the way to prevent writers block is quite simple. Really it is.

Pick up your pen (or go sit at your computer) and write.

And, if you’re still not convinced, try it.

Write about a memory. Write about something you saw while shopping… a person you met. Anything, as long as you write and don’t stop, stick with it. Because  if you love writing, if it’s what truly drives you then it’s better to write something than nothing at all.

 

 

 

It All Starts With Coffee

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Yes, it’s true! I’m a coffee addict. Like you didn’t know.

So, by now, it’s no secret… or at least I hope it’s no secret, that I write every day. Some days not as much as others, but I do write daily.

It’s not something I’ve always done. In fact, it took me two years to make the habit stick and it wasn’t easy.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what to write… that part is up to you. Blog, novel, short story… journal? Whatever. Nor am I going to give you story ideas… although, that might make for an interesting series of blog posts sometime in the future.

For now though, let’s get back to developing daily writing habits.

Decide what you want to work on. Is it a short story or a novel? Does it have a deadline? How many words is it?

Break it down. And keep your daily word count target small. There’s nothing more overwhelming then setting a daily goal of a 1000 words and falling short because you were so caught up in writing ALL THE WORDS. Trust me, small is better.

Take my goal for instance. In January I set a goal to write 275 words a day. Some days I write more, others I write less, but in six months I’ve never missed a day.

I know many writers who churn out upwards of 5,000 words one day and then don’t write for days afterwards. I don’t get it. I mean, each writer’s writing process is different but I’d much rather see the progress on the page, bit my bit, than multiple zeros on a spreadsheet. But then, I also like accountability. I like seeing proof of my progress.

Make time. I cannot stress this enough. Even ten minutes. My biggest time saver when stealing time for writing is my iPhone. I often find I’m more productive if I just use the notes app, but I have MS Word on there too and I save everything to OneDrive, so its all right there waiting for me to pick it up the next day on whichever device I choose to work with.

You’re probably sitting reading this and going but I don’t have time, right? Wrong. Back in April I felt the exact same way. I asked other writers how I could fix it. How I could up my productivity and stop procrastinating. I’m time poor. I have four kids and a husband, along with a house to take care off. Something had to give, and it couldn’t be any of those three big things. Family is important.

So, what did I do? Well I began tracking my time for a whole week. 7 days. It made me accountable to the house, the kids and my husband, and I soon saw a pattern forming and I was able to identify blocks of time where I could write.

Back in May, I posted this about finding time and while it’s not a concise picture of every day of the week, it is a rough idea of what a week day looks like for me. It’ll likely change when I get a part time job, becoming even crazier, I suspect, but I’ll deal.

So, I made time. Two hours at night. And not every night mind you. Some days I blow off writing at night in favour of TV and when I do I make up the words in other ways. By blogging, for instance. Yes, I multitask.

Pick one project. You don’t have to do everything at once. I have… three, no four novels on the go at the moment. I switch between all of them depending on the day and my mood. It helps me to keep the story fresh. And tricks my mind into thinking I’m working on something new, even though I’m clearly not.

And, I could go on, but I won’t. So… if you think there’s something I’ve missed or you have a question, pop it in a comment and I’ll be sure to reply.

 

 

100 Followers

wood-3190203_960_720.jpgOMG! Thank you all so much. You guys are awesome! I actually didn’t expect to reach this milestone so soon after I resumed blogging much more often in April. But I have, so thanks.

But, this is not just about the numbers, or the likes, comments or even the follows. It’s about community.

And while I know there’s a few of my followers that probably aren’t writers or authors or even artists, you’ve still taken the time to read my posts and follow me on my journey and listen to what I’ve got to say. And for someone who always hesitates to click PUBLISH every time I finish a blog post that’s a big thing. Huge, even.

So, THANK YOU.

When I started this blog back in 2013, I had a different path for it.  I’d started it with the idea of just sharing my accomplishments as a writer and the odd stories about my kids. And while I know I should continue to perhaps blog about my kids, I do need to share my accomplishments and writing process more.

So, while their won’t be any less of the informative tidbits I’ve been sharing there will be more about me, my kids and my writing. I started publishing in November 2011, which oddly also coincides with when I started writing. I started my writing journey in November 1997. I still have the first story I ever wrote, miracle of miracles it survived to this day despite bad storage methods. Floppy Disks…! Anyone remember those? If you don’t, it’s okay. I’m in my 30s…

Anyway, enough rambling from me. I do hope you stick around though, and continue to enjoy my posts and maybe even find some useful tidbits along the way.

My To-Do List

557D6CD1-2728-4436-BF52-8D457E134A1BWell… it has been a busy week, so I’ll get back into my more informative posts again tomorrow.

For now though, I’m going to share what’s been happening in my world.

1. The job search is still ongoing and as frustrating as ever. If you’ve ever been a stay at home parent you’ll know my frustrations. 12 years out of the workforce means you’re basically unhireable. At least that’s my experience to date.

2. The Twisted II anthology is drawing closer… coming July 13th…

3. I have an interview that I did for The Horror Tree coming soon, as well as more book reviews being finalised and sent off tomorrow.

4. As for my own stories… Nightshade is close to being finished. Which means I’ll be diving back into Sovereign and hopefully getting that finished by July 24th.

5. My Patreon page should be up and running soon. Yes… I know, but I can’t create and publish without a little help. But don’t worry there will be plenty of perks should you choose to become a patron. But more about that later.

That’s all from me.

More tomorrow, when I’m not so exhausted.

 

Simply Blown Away

EA001BD8-7D73-4A02-8BB4-52C7C290118CWow! You guys… I’m in awe truly. Last night’s blog was written at the eleventh hour… stroke of midnight almost when I didn’t know what to write, so I just wrote off the top of my head. No plan, just freeform instead.

I’m thinking I might just keep it up, because it seems to be working.

So, I thought I’d start tonight with a heart felt THANK YOU because honestly, I’m still so new at this blogging thing. I’m still figuring out what people want to see and what they don’t.

When I decided back in April that I had to either get serious about my blog or give it away entirely I didn’t think anybody would actually want to read what I wrote. I guess now, I’ve just been proven wrong.

So THANK YOU – again – it’s humbling knowing that people are listening. I don’t feel quite as alone as I have felt on this journey from time to time.

Writing is by nature a solitary pursuit. I wouldn’t change it though. I’m feeling very optimistic about my first book that is currently in the hands of an editor. The first three chapters anyway. It’s a trial run but like I said last night I think I may have found my perfect fit editor wise. I hope so anyway.

My writing feels so personal at times that I struggle to share. Self doubt is a horrible thing.

If the edits go well, I think I’ll share the first chapter.

The story has been six years in the making. The first draft was written in six weeks, after I’d picked apart the bones of a previous discarded story. Which, I’m still considering bringing back to life at some stage. It’s got promise if I can do it justice that is.

Faeries are so diverse in nature. Even as I play in the Celtic and Arthurian mythos I find things evolving of their own accord.

It’s quite refreshing really.

 

 

 

Affirmations

FD2CEF27-D321-408C-8DBE-3AD9005F1A30My husband and I were having a conversation about a book he’d just finished reading when he turned to me and said: “Don’t take this the wrong way but if that’s published why aren’t you?”

My answer was a one word response. “Editing.”

It’s expensive. So, I’ve been putting it off and putting it off.

My book has blossomed into six books, with three more still to write.

But, I can say I’m one step closer to publishing. Having found an editor who just might be the perfect fit for me.

It still doesn’t stop the self doubt and anxieties from creeping in and sometimes that alone is enough to make me pause and consider not publishing because I’m scared.

Of course then I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be scared. That the reason I put pen to paper in the first place when I was fourteen hasn’t changed. I still want to share my words with the world. My dream of being publishedhasnt gone anywhere and all this is just a bump in the road that I will get over.

It’s okay.

Being scared, is okay. In fact, it would be a little remiss if you weren’t. Writing. The entire process is huge. It’s sharing a part of yourself with strangers. What’s not scary about that?

The trick?

Breathe. And let go.

Focus on getting the words down. It’s not a sprint. You don’t have to compare yourself to any other writer.

Just do you. Be accountable. Show up and put in the effort. The words on the page will speak for themselves.