My writing background

Prompt: How did you start writing?

I’m fairly sure I’ve covered this in my blog before. Maybe not even that long ago? I was probably rambling about something that wasn’t even that related to the prompt. Oh, no, I think I remember what it was. It was in the interview I did. That’s right. Okay, well minor recap then for anyone who is still interested.

I started keeping a journal and writing (bad) poetry in my teens. I was definitely writing both by 14. Not sure what originally inspired either. Maybe a boy? I got my first boyfriend when I was 14. I was definitely journalling before we got together though, because I know my journal is all ‘I think we’re together now, oh, no we’re not, yes we are.” Ugh. Teenage girls are so stupid. For that matter, so are teenage boys. He wouldn’t date me because I swore too much. At that time I didn’t even drop the f bomb. He objected to me saying such things as ‘He’s such a dick.’ He considered that swearing. Somehow we still ended up as boyfriend and girlfriend (maybe because I was too stubborn to give up?) and we were together for about two years. Sorry, a bit of a tangent there. So my earliest journal entries are about high school and Jason. Mostly Jason. Although Chelsea is in there quite a bit, as best friends are wont to be.

Some of my early poems were about Jason, but I mostly wrote about people and things that were currently happening. I loved writing them on scout camps and I’d mention everyone and something they did or some characteristic or personality aspect that was prominent. People enjoyed them, even though I look back on them now and think they’re total shit. I used to write poems about living on the farm and the peace and scenery there. I’m certain I wrote poems about Chelsea. And of course about the usual teenage girl angst. Bearing in mind that I was not your normal teenage girl. I wasn’t very girly at all. In fact, I was often mistaken for being a boy right up until I was 17 (which is saying something because I have never had a boyish figure). I wrote about that once, too. I reckon if identifying as another gender had been something that was done in those days, I’d have identified as male. Seriously. I just didn’t know it was a thing. You were born with girly bits, you were a girl. That’s just how it was. I hated being a girl. I know that I’ve got a poem somewhere that’s titled ‘I should have been a boy’ or something similar. I really hated that I’d been born a girl. Girls were stupid. And they had boobs and periods, which was just gross. Boys were more interesting, and they didn’t have periods or boobs. So yeah, there was that.

Sorry, gone off tangent again. Writing. My mother used to write, but not often. When we were living in England she kept a journal. I don’t know why she didn’t keep one when we lived in New Zealand. Maybe she thought normal, everyday life in New Zealand wasn’t interesting enough, whereas in England we were tourists and often out exploring different parts of England. We were there for 18 months. She also wrote poetry, but generally speaking, only in birthday cards. At least, those are the only ones she’s shown me. She did once show me a poem she’d written about Dad, when they were living in Asia, so maybe she writes more often than she lets on.

Actually, speaking of Dad, I believe he wrote at least one song. *Pthb* I distinctly remember that the woman in the song had different colour eyes to Mum. *Shock*

I started off writing simple rhyming poetry, which is the style my mother used. Then in high school I picked up Chelsea’s style of poetry which didn’t have line breaks. It wasn’t quite prose poetry either though. More like free verse without line breaks. It’s probably not even poetry by defined standards. It was… What do you call it when you just write without censoring yourself or thinking or whatever? No, I’m not talking about my rambling blog posts! *Rolling* Mind something. I tried to google it and came up with free writing. Which it is, but we used to call it something else. When your brain just explodes onto the page. Mind dump? No… Maybe it wasn’t mind anything. Anyway, Chelsea and I used to call them monologues. I wasn’t as good at them as she was. She had a real ‘free spirit’ personality and was always true to herself, whereas I was always worried about what people would think of me and wanted people to like me. Everyone loved her, so I wanted to be like her, so I would consciously try to write like her. Which is the exact opposite purpose of the exercise, right? *Facepalm*

My first foray into writing stories was to take existing stories and revise them. Like, I’d read a book, then I’d change the ending or give one of the characters a slightly different personality. I don’t have any of my early stories. In fact, I think the earliest story I have that I wrote entirely on my own is from 1996 when I was 16. Actually, that’s way earlier than I thought. But it’s not really a story. Well, it’s a true story. So it kinda doesn’t count. The earliest fictional one is from 1998 when I was 18. It’s quite short, and written in first person. Basically, it’s me daydreaming about pretending to be shot while in a debating class. *Rolleyes* Yeah… *Blush* Aside from that, I think the next earliest fictional story I have that I wrote on my own is from 2012 when I was 32. Wow. That’s a really long gap! I do have a bunch of silly stories that are similar in style to interactives. One person would write a paragraph, then another person would, then another person. Most don’t make any sense, because you were only allowed to see the last word of the previous paragraph in some cases. In others, you could read more and they made more sense. Chelsea and I did a whole bunch of those in our teens, and I still have some of them.

I’m not sure if I can attribute my ‘start’ in writing to one person. Maybe Mum, but honestly, I so rarely saw her write anything that I’m not sure that was it. I did like her style of poetry though. Through my teens, Chelsea was by far and away the biggest influence on my writing. And even into my 20s. I only started blogging because of Chelsea. True story. And her journals, which I only saw when we were flatting together in 1999-2000 (no idea if she even kept journals before then) were so creative that I desperately wanted to make some that looked the same. *Blush* Then I found Writing.com and the people were so encouraging. When I re-joined Writing.com in 2010 is when I really truly stepped out of my comfort zone and started learning and experimenting, and I learned so much from so many people. And that’s a whole other blog entry!

A song to describe me

Prompt: If you could only use music to describe yourself to someone, what song would it be and why?

Ooh, that’s actually really tough. I have to think about how I would describe myself generally first, then what songs would give the other person that impression. How would I describe myself?

Huh. Okay. I’m creative, but not artistic. I’m generous but lazy. I’m inspired but a procrastinator. Family, family history and genealogy are important to me, but I also believe that family doesn’t necessarily mean blood-relations. But on the flip side, when you’re talking about genealogy, blood-relations ARE important, because that’s your genetic line. I’m a strong believer in tolerance, particularly when it comes to religion and gender or sexuality nonconformity. I’m not shy, but I’m intimidated by good looking and/or confident people. I’m addicted to romance novels, an optimist, a romantic and exceedingly sentimental, and yet I don’t consider myself to be a particularly emotional person. I love shopping and pretty things, but if I didn’t have to dress up for work, I’d live in jeans and shorts. I’m a parent, who makes mistakes on what is probably a daily basis, but my children know they’re loved and know they can talk to me about anything, so I like to think I’m winning that challenge.

So… How do you say all of that in a song?

My first thought was Bitch by Meredith Brooks *Laugh* but I don’t know if I’m quite as extreme as that. Yeah, I can be a bitch sometimes, and the song is all about contrasts, but she says ‘I’m your hell, I’m your dream, I’m nothing in between’ and I just don’t think that’s me. Some people, you love them or you hate them, because they’re such strong personalities. My husband is that way for a lot of people. But I don’t think I am. I’m very middle of the road. In fact, I’ve used that phrase to describe myself in the past. Middle of the road. No extremes. I’m not sure it’s as true now as it was then. I think I’ve become more diverse as I’ve got older. Definitely more interesting! *Laugh*

I took a quiz that was supposed to tell me what song suited my personality, and it told me I was Looking Out My Back Door by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I love CCR, but that song is a whole bunch of nonsense written by some folk who were whacked out on drugs. The quiz tried to tell me that it was because I lived in the moment and didn’t worry about tomorrow or some such thing, but that’s bollocks. Yeah, I’m not the one who stresses about things, but I would never use such a bizarre song to introduce myself to someone. If someone told me that that song described them, my first thoughts would be that they’re either crazy or they do a lot of drugs. For god’s sake, the song is about hallucinating animals playing music instruments!

So I googled a bit more, and found a few that might work, but most were by artists that I’m not really into. And I was still happy to consider them, but they weren’t leaping out at me. Anyway, I was reading the lyrics to All Kinds of Kinds by Miranda Lambert (I like some of her songs but hadn’t heard this one) and I had a lightbulb moment. *Idea*

So here you go. I’d be happy enough to use this song to introduce myself to someone. I’ve shared this song before, because I really like it and it makes my fingers itch to write something powerful and affirming. It probably also gives a real good indication of my age too, because it came out when I was a teenager, and people do tend to relate most to the music of their teens. What kind of person does it make you think of?


I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people’s hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it’s bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem
I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can’t appreciate real love until you’ve been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don’t know what you’ve got until you say goodbye

I believe you can’t control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I’m young enough to be a millenial… right?

Prompt: What is your preferred book reading medium? Kindle, computer screen, audiobook, or good old fashioned paper? How come?

While I love the tangibility of physical books, and I believe I will always have a small library (or a big library if I win the lottery!), the reality is that electronic books are far more convenient for me.

*BurstP* Electronic books are cheaper than physical books for the most part. Yeah, I can sometimes get cheap physical books at used bookstores or online or whatever, but most of the time it’s cheaper to buy the electronic version. And it makes sense – there are no overheads for the publisher. You’re not paying for the physical costs of printing a book.

*BurstO* Electronic books weigh less and take up less room. Boy, do they ever! I have a bookshelf in my bedroom that I’d estimate has about 100 books on it, give or take a few. That’s combined, mine and Steve’s. And it includes the books I’ve received from some amazing WDC authors. *Bigsmile* It takes up half a wall in my bedroom, and has three shelves, with books shelved two deep. In contrast, I have 1,404 books in my Kindle library. It takes up no room at all. I can carry all 1,404 with me everywhere I go. I can decide which one to read on a whim, and it’s right there. I love it.

*BurstG* No one can tell what you’re reading when you read an electronic book. *Wink* As you know, I only read romance novels. Well, 99%. I’m currently reading a fantasy novel, but there was romance in the first book in the series, so it counts, right? *Pthb* Anyway, romance novels have terrible covers, and worse reputations. And yes, I read some that are non-conventional, such as gay romances and romances with multiple partners. I’m not ashamed of reading those, but on the flip side, I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry on the train judging me, and I certainly don’t need my work colleagues judging me while I read on my lunch break. So yeah, I love the anonymity of electronic books.

I read on my phone. I own a proper Kindle (I think it was a gift) but I don’t use it. I’m not sure why I don’t use it, honestly, other than that I always have my phone on me rather than having to remember to take the Kindle with me. Oh, and my Kindle doesn’t have a backlight. Which is a feature they’re proud of, because it’s better for your eyes, but it makes it harder to read in bed at night with the light off. *Pthb* So yes, I read on my phone. Yes, it’s a small screen. It doesn’t bother me. The only thing that bothers me is that I can get a sore neck sometimes on the train or at lunch, because I’m leaning over to look at it instead of holding it closer to my face.

I used to listen to audio books when I was commuting by car. Sometimes audio books frustrate because it takes SO much longer to listen to a book than to read it at my own pace, but I do love a really great narrator. I’ll be honest, sometimes the audio version is better than the ebook version. Examples are Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, which is narrated by Justine Eyre, and A Restored Man by Jaime Reese which is narrated by Greg Tremblay. Thoroughly enjoyed those. I have also enjoyed narrations by Spencer Goss and Amanda Ronconi. The worst one I ever had was Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker which was narrated by Abby Craden. That was a real quick ‘did not finish’. Ugh. Terrible. Whereas the audio version of Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands, which was narrated by Marianna Palka was hilarious. Marianna did the accents perfectly, but used a hilarious witchy voice for the ‘bad stepmother’ character. It was even funnier because the book literally says that the stepmother has a beautiful voice that didn’t match her personality, and I listened to the narrator read that out right after doing the witchy voice and burst out laughing. God it was funny. To this day, my mother, sisters and I still giggle when someone mentions chicken necks, thanks to that story.

Thinking about Marianna Polka brings me to an interesting thought on audio books. Accents. I’m a New Zealander, and I have a good understanding of some accents, but obviously not all. For instance, I can read a book where a character has a Scottish, English or Australian accent and hear that quite easily in my head. Even knowing that there are multiple variations of those accents, that’s fine. I’m familiar enough with them. I’m not very good at picking where exactly a person is from in Britain by their accent, unlike my father who grew up there, but while reading the dialogue, I can hear the voice in my head. A recent example of that was Misfits and Strays by Garrett Leigh. Two of the characters have Cockney accents, and the other two have more northern English accents. The words and phrases they used were 95% familiar to me. There were a couple of terms I didn’t know but I could easily put them into context. I read both books hearing the characters speak in my head. But when it came to Janvier from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I had no idea. He has a Cajun accent or something, which means nothing to me. Anyway, I listened to the audio book and heard Janvier’s accent, which was awesome. Now I can imagine what he sounds like.

Audio books are more expensive than ebooks though, for obvious reasons. I have an Audible subscription (which I’m actually thinking of stopping now that I can read on the train and I’m not driving to work) so I can get one audio book a month for a reasonable price.

So yup, there you go. Ebooks with a side helping of audio books. But I do admit, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands. That new book smell, or the fragility of an old, well-loved book. Yeah, I’ll always have a little library of special books.

Book review of Alluring Attraction by A F Zoelle

Alluring Attraction (Illicit Illusions #1)

Ryder and Hunter are in the same classes at university, but they don’t get along. They compete for the top grades and often get into heated debates that consume large portions of class time. One night Ryder reluctantly accompanies a friend to an exclusive brothel only to find that Hunter works there. He selects Hunter, to find out if it’s really him, and they both admit to being attracted to each other. They sleep together, and a few nights later, Ryder comes back for more. Hunter isn’t working at the brothel voluntarily, and Ryder’s visits are the highlight of his nights there. Until the brother owner, Hunter’s adoptive dad, realises that Ryder and Hunter are getting too close, and threatens them both. Meanwhile, Hunter has a new co-worker that he can’t resist.

This story is told in third person omniscient point of view, which would be fine, but the point of view changes from paragraph to paragraph, and sometimes even within a single paragraph. It took me a long time to be able to move past that. Aside from that, the writing style is very good, but I definitely think the book would be greatly improved if the author was able to maintain a single viewpoint for each chapter.

‘Ryder shrugged, not really caring one way or another. “I don’t know. I mean, I guess it could belong to a relative or something?” He sounded somewhat uncertain.’

 

I thought the characters were great, and I thought Hunter was particularly strong. It would be good to be able to see some balance in Hunter’s dad, because no one is totally evil, and yet we don’t see any balance there.

The author mentions multiple times that Hunter and Ryder are rivals, but we don’t really get to see that. It’s still being mentioned at the end of the book during sappy romantic or sexual times, when the characters are WELL past thinking of each others as rivals, and it feels a bit forced. Like the author can’t think of another word to use, because boyfriend and lover don’t quite fit.

‘Letting his thumb trail from the knuckles down to the tips of Ryder’s fingers, Hunter maintained eye contact as he slowly leaned forward and reverently placed a kiss on the back of his rival’s hand.’

Although Hunter works at a brothel, I was surprise by the steamy scenes between him and Cesare. The first one felt like it was moving the story along and letting the reader know more about Hunter and the situation he was in, but the more that Hunter and Cesare were together, the more Hunter seemed to be falling for Cesare. He thought Cesare was more satisfying in bed than Ryder. At that point I was like ‘Woah, where is this story going again?’ Actually, the title of the book, Alluring Attraction, seems more suited for Hunter and Cesare than Hunter and Ryder. But Cesare isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. I’m so confused!

‘Being with Ryder was its own form of incredible pleasure, but getting fucked by Cesare was physically gratifying all the way to the core of Hunter’s soul.’

The book finished without resolving anything. At this point, Hunter could end up with Ryder, he could end up with Cesare, or the three of them could decide to get together. Who knows?

I think the story has potential. If the point of view issue was fixed, it’d be an easy read. Aside from that one (major) issue, the writing style is great. The story has good pace and a perfect level of conflict to keep the reader engaged. The main characters are interesting and likeable, and it would be easy enough to add some depth to Christophe. I’m just not sure where Cesare fits into things. And ugh, cliffhangers. I gave the book two stars because I think it needs some more editing.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Writing plans

Prompt: Have you set a writing plan for 2019? If not why not? Do you feel planning makes you more productive or less productive?

I haven”t made a writing plan yet but I think I will.  Generally speaking, plans help me avoid wasted time.  For instance, I might not write any more than I would have without the plan, but what I do write is more likely to be what’s on my plan than random waste-of-time writing.  Okay, I don’t normally have writing plans, I don’t think, but this is generally what happens to me with plans.

I did have a writing bucket list once.  Let’s see what was on that…

*Box* Handwrite all my poems into journals
*Boxcheck* Finish, edit and print Grand & Epic Adventures
*Box*Write a short story based on one of my ancestors
*Box* Write a short story based on my own life
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about Boxing Days
*Box* Write a poem about each of my family members
*Boxcheck* My dad
*Box* My mum
*Box* My older sister
*Boxcheck* My younger sister
*Boxcheck* My husband
*Boxcheck* My son
*Boxcheck* My daughter
*Box* My father-in-law
*Box* My mother-in-law
*Boxcheck* Complete National Poetry Writing Month
*Box* Complete National Novel Writing Month
*Box* Fill a journal with writing
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my younger sister in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my godson in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my goddaughter in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my grandmother in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my great uncle in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my uncle in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my friend Beth in the US
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my old next door neighbour
*Box* Take a poetry writing or appreciation class

Hey, I’ve actually done quite a few of the things on my list!  When I was checking the list though, I realised I hadn’t updated any of my 2018 to-do lists and made 2019 lists.  I need to do that.  This is a great prompt, because I hadn’t thought about doing this earlier!

Okay, let’s do writing, and then I’ll do the other ones after posting this entry.

Last year I set myself a goal of writing a poem and a short story every month.  I failed that pretty spectacularly.  I didn’t write any short stories at all last year *Shock* and I think I only wrote poems in about six of the 12 months.  Ugh.  So I won’t set that goal again.

Oh, I should probably mention that I also have a Writing.com list (for entering contests, etc) and a blogging list.  So I don’t count blogging as writing for the purpose of this writing list.  Sorry if that confuses you!

Okay, let’s set a goal of writing at least one short story in 2019.  That’ll be an improvement over 2018!  *Laugh*

I do wanna write some poems this year.  Maybe I should set a number instead of a timeline?  Like 10 poems in 2019?

The more I think about this, the harder it gets.  Because I was like ‘Oh, I need to do some book reviews too’, but that’s a different list as well (reading).  Clearly I have too many lists.  *Facepalm*

So I put this blog entry down, went away, spent half the day watching Youtube videos and making a rock playlist and I’m still no closer to answer.  *Laugh*

Okay, here goes.  Executive decision.  Write six poems and one short story by 30 June, and write a total of 12 poems and two short stories by the end of the year.  Done!

Now I gotta update my other lists…

You’re my density

My husband sent me flowers at the office today.  Gorgeous roses in an array of different colours, including a couple of really pretty variegated ones.  He’s so naughty.  The card said ‘After 16 years, you’re still my density’, referencing the Back to the Future quote.

img_4188

I worked out that next month, it’ll be 19 years since we got together.  I was 19 then, so that means I’ll have been with him for half my life.  Half my life!  That’s insane.  And married for 16 years.  I guess that’s the good thing about getting married young, you can celebrate some pretty epic anniversaries.   Ha ha!

Travel dreams

Prompt: Where in the world would you like to visit the most? Assume you are not worried about money in any way.

Ooh, fun. Travel with no money restrictions, yes please! Living in New Zealand, it’s so expensive to go anywhere. And some of the flights are so freaking long. It takes about 30-odd hours to get from Auckland to London. In cattle class, that sucks. You arrive so exhausted that you have to spend two days recovering before you can start exploring. So money-is-no-object travelling? I’m in.

I haven’t been to many places, although I’ve been lucky with where I have been. I’ve done most of the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve been to Melbourne, Australia and the Australian Outback. I’ve explored London, England, and Inverness, Scotland pretty well. I’ve been to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland as well, and Northampton and Keswick in England, but not explored, so only seen one or two specific places and a whole bunch of English and Scottish roadside.

When it comes to travel, I have some priorities I guess. Like everyone. Some people want to immerse themselves in a different culture. Some people want to get a sense of history. I’m a country girl at heart, and a photography enthusiast, so I tend to go for natural scenery.

I know, it’s insane that I can say that and yet I haven’t been to the South Island. People come from all over the world to see the scenery of the South Island, and I’m a Kiwi and I haven’t seen any of it!  My friend Charlie on Writing.com was talking about Norway’s fjords, but New Zealand’s South Island has fjords too. And glaciers. And mountains.

Why do we spell it fiords? That seems very American of us. *Wink*

So yeah, the South Island is high on my list. I also really want to explore the Lake District of England. I’ve been there twice, once as a child and once as an adult, but only briefly. I want to explore it.

Where else? I want to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria. Again, amazing scenery. And I love road trips. My mother and older sister rave about cruises, because you do all your travelling at night while you sleep and just wake up in the morning at your next destination, but I actually like road trips, and so does my husband. You get a feel for the country, and it’s interesting and relaxing. Plus, you can pull over anywhere you like and explore. That’s how we ended up in Gretna Green. *Laugh* Oh, and Stoke-on-Trent. That was a heck of a detour for what ended up being a walk around a pottery museum. *Smirk*

I’m sure no one will be surprised to know that I have a travel bucket list. No, I thought not. Me, the queen of lists, having a travel bucket list? Kind of a given, I know. So here you go:
*Boxcheck* Fly business class
*Box* Fly first class
*Box* Apply for a UK passport
*Boxcheck* Go inside St Matthews in the City, Auckland, New Zealand
*Box* Go to New Zealand’s South Island
*Box* Go to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand
*Boxcheck* Go to England as an adult
*Boxcheck* See Buckingham Palace in England as an adult
*Boxcheck* Go inside Westminster Abbey in England
*Boxcheck* See the Tower of London in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Hyde Park in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Scotland
*Boxcheck* Go to Gretna Green in Scotland
*Box* Go to Dunfermline Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland
*Box* Go to the Isle of Skye in Scotland
*Box* Go to the Orkney Islands in Scotland
*Box* Go to Ireland
*Box* Go to Wales as an adult
*Box* Go to ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
*Box* See the Northern or Southern Lights
*Box* Go to Antarctica

See? IrelandWalesthe islands of Scotland and Antarctica. That’d be fucking awesome. I’m so jealous of my friend Jody from Writing.com who is going to Antarctica. Again, so close to New Zealand (ironically, that one we’re actually close to whereas you’re all so far away from it) and yet it might as well be on the other side of the world. No, I’ve been to the other side of the world, but still haven’t been to the South Island or Antarctica. *Facepalm*

Where would you love to travel to if money was no object?