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Oct 17, 2012

Twitter's 'Whom' To Follow?

I've stumbled upon a worthy Chrome extension that will have grammar nerds short-circuiting with tears of joy. It's called 'Whom to follow for Twitter' and was created by self-described pedantic, Tom. The extension changes the name of Twitter's Who To Follow feature to...Whom to Follow. I've installed the extension, and here's a screenie:


For the Chrome version, visit here, or google for your version.
And how did I stumble upon such a nifty extension? Because I was looking for one that removed the dang Who To Follow feature that is now the size of a baby shoe for anyone who has created an account with the new Twitter interface. I've recently created a second account, and right now, the biggest thing I can see on this account's home page is a Kardashian head flanked by Bieber and none other than...Kevin Rudd.

The new title of the feature is 'Here are some people you might enjoy following' or words to that effect. If you think that's a stupid-long title, you should see the stupid-wide box it comfortably fits across.
Well, this makes me go as red as a spanked tomato. This is Twitter, not Who Magazine.
As luck would have it, installing Whom To Follow has not only done what it says it does for the old layout, but it's removed the ridiculously large version [and the Kevindashian posse] on the new version altogether!! MWAH HAHAHA!!

We love you, Tom! ;)

Sep 14, 2012

Shutterstock's free image of the week

For lovers of fantasy, here is an illustrative image of a castle within a ring of cloud. Lovely gloomy greys with a touch of peach and mauve. Perfect for blogs or perhaps book covers. And it's FREE! Stock photo sites like this have free images on rotation, so dropping by each week is a great habit to get into.


May 21, 2012

I'll show you hot.

Okay. Thought I'd have a little fun, seeing as there's so much controversy over Fifty Shades of Grey. It seems there's two camps: those getting hot under the belt and those getting hot under the collar.
For the conservatives waving pitchforks in libraries across the globe, put your burning torches down and grab yourself one hot, steamy cuppa. Clearly we all like heat of some kind. 

I should point out that I'm not in either camp. I haven't read the Fifty Shades series to form an opinion let alone rate them one or five stars. 

I've been busy squeezing a few bags.

May 9, 2012

Fool's Gold.

A dear friend recently created some art for someone else's project. The brief for the art was nothing more than to emulate a style to provide the relevant atmosphere. But when I saw what she'd done, my fingers curled and I shook them to the sky.
"No!" I yelled. "They're too good! Hang on to them!"
I mean, they were really great pieces! My friend had nailed the style so well, and she'd added the heart and soul that she normally gives to her art. The result was powerful and beautiful. I jokingly told her that she could shift paths and continue creating in this style seriously. Well, I was half joking. More pressing to me was that I thought she was giving away these 'better' ideas instead of saving them for a more solid project of her own.

That was yesterday.

Today, I remembered something I told myself never to do. Never hold on to your best ideas as if they are the only ones you will ever have. Don't treat your great ideas of today as if the are the imagination's gold: rare and hard to come by. I told myself that if I start treating my creativity as a scarcity instead of an unlimited abundance in this way, then that's what it would become.

Sometimes it can be hard to remember it. For people going through a tough time with creative blocks, it can be difficult to have any faith in it. But by feeling that we are all - in our very existence - a constant channel of creativity means that we will create, share, give and let go, over and over again. We will have no choice but to put our great ideas out there for the simple and immediate purposes that they quite often sprout from. Because the future will hold barely enough time to express those great ideas to come.

All right. I have a friend to email. ;)


Apr 20, 2012

Hoooray! Turning, my new novella, has been released!

Hi, everyone.
Well, I'm pretty excited lately. After months of revising and a year of working on my novella, I've taken my first step into the self-publishing world. My ebook, Turning, is up on the Amazon Kindle store! Yesterday I got my first review, which was lovely. I don't know the person, but I'm sending a thanks out into the ether!

I'm also being bold and including a quote:
"Besides being an action-packed story, there also was a message about humanity and how easily it can be lost under extreme circumstances."

To my fellow budding writers whom I've met along the way, if you have a story that's begging you to be told, consider taking the journey of self-publishing. And by self-publishing, I don't mean writing words and uploading it as an eBook, I mean consider taking on certain responsibilities of a publisher, including hiring an editor and cover artist, and organising your promotion. Traditional publishers often expect authors to self-promote, anyway.

Working with my editor, Sirra Girl, was the most amazing, altering experience as a newbie writer. I cannot sing it praises enough. The editing process not only transformed my manuscript, it transformed me as a writer. I feel like I've done a course that was tailored to me, and the result is a monumental growth spurt. I write better short stories, I write better blog posts, and much faster! I even spend less time writing an email. I already know that I will save a huge amount of hours in the middle drafts of my next project, too. And we all know how precious time is.

One of the cool things the review said was:
"And unlike many ebooks I've read in the past few months, this book was very nicely written. I'd read another book by this author anytime."

My initial reaction was "OMG! Someone called me an author!" hehehe :) But on a serious note, my book didn't start out as nicely written. I had developed my story and style, but that's not enough to give the reader a worthy experience. On reading the line quoted above, I knew it was the result of many, many hours of learning about my weaknesses and revising, revising, revising. It was the result of hardening up and letting go of pride. It was the result of working alongside a great editor who helped me refine my craft. Why? Because we both wanted what's best for the story and the reader.

I still have a long way to go, but I've taken a big leap in the journey. Perhaps one day I will be traditionally published, perhaps not. And this may be ironic to some, but by self-publishing, I am now far better equipped to present a manuscript, synopsis and query letter deserving of an agent's time than I ever was.

If you would like to check out my ebook, click the cover image on the right, and then the amazon link. If you have any questions, or are thinking of self-publishing and need a place to start, comment below and I can share resources and links. :)
~

Feb 29, 2012

Write on Wednesday - Small Expectations

From Ink Paper Pen...
This week's writing prompt is:
Imagine yourself as tiny as your thumb.Where would you live? What would you do?
...and here's what I imagine would happen to me!

Small Expectations


Nobody else notices.
Not even me at first.

I mean, that's a huge serviette holder, I tell myself. HUGE.

It's one of those things, those mundane objects, so mundane that it's been chosen by a small town to be made into a giant statue in the utter conviction that no other town would care less to make a giant serviette holder.
We're home to the Giant Serviette Holder. We are unique!

So that theory lasts as long as it takes me to realise I'm analysing the Giant Serviette Holder from where I sit on the fat lip of the Giant Coffee Cup. Same town. The same cafeteria. Yep, even the same table. Home to the Giant Coffee Cup.

I'm blinking, finally, but perhaps over-staring. If you stare at something hard enough, does it just...seem awfully big?

I look down to where a bacon strip extends for half a mile, a pink undulating road crisp with boulders of salt and streaked with long, luscious gutters of fat. Surely the road less travelled, Mr. Peck. The end of the porky road, like a busted bridge, falls into nothing. Only, off the edge of a white plate.

A pudgy mountain of yellow edges the bacon road, lightly quivering, the way I should be, if it wasn't for my propensity for delayed reaction. Yes, undetectable to the standard human eye, scrambled egg does, in fact, quiver.

How did I become so small? I have a memory from the moment before, the thing I did to cause me to shrink to the size of a fake nail. But alas, for some reason the memory is too big and overwhelming to fit in my tiny brain. I have to make new tiny memories.

I remember the serviette holder. I remember the quivering scrambled egg. This is going to take a long time.

I jump down the side of the coffee cup, practically slashing my face open on the sugar grains lining the saucer. But I'm good at smelling sugar. I can remember something small and inconsequential like that. This isn't sugar.

On the table, over the edge of the amazingly not-all-that-smooth surface of porcelain I'm standing on, I see the sachet, ripped open at one end and lying there like a sleeping bag for a giant.

Salt.

Who's ever put salt in their coffee? Has anyone on the planet even tried it? No, how would a caffeine addict manage that, even with the jitters of a drunken surgeon.

Well, I can't say I remember doing it. But I will say: don't ever, ever, add salt to your coffee!



Write On Wednesdays 

Feb 8, 2012

Write on Wednesday - Possessing Beauty

What a wonderful writing prompt we have this week, from InkPaperPen:

Write about a collection. Write about something you or someone you know, collects. Think about the "why" behind the collection - why is it important to collect this particular thing? How does it make the person feel to add another piece to their collection? Is the group of objects there to be seen, to be studied or simply kept together? Write a real life story or a piece of fiction. Wherever the prompt takes you...Keep your post on the short side: up to 500 words OR a 5 minute stream of consciousness exercise. Link your finished piece to the list and begin popping by the other links. Oh, and enjoy!
~

Clippings

Beth crossed her hands neatly and rest them on her scrapbook on the table. Outside, the groundsman pruned the roses that edged the pathways. Beth could see Cherie making her way slowly, but adamantly, toward him on her walker. Beth smiled and reminded herself to look out the window again in a few minutes. She enjoyed watching their exchange.

"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Beth. It's taking me a long time to do my rounds today."

"That's fine, Kathy." Beth beamed with love, because her patience was one of the many little gifts she gave people, and it made her feel good to give to others.

"Henry believes I have his pills mixed up again. It's made a mess of my morning." Kathy winked.

Beth smiled, knowing Henry was really a favorite with all the nurses at Dalkeith Nursing Home. "I guess we're your children."

"I wouldn't go as far as calling you all kids, but some do test me." Kathy chuckled as she rolled her eyes. "Anyway, here's the scissors and the sticky tape you asked for."

"Thanks, Kathy."

Kathy remained, watching over Beth's shoulder. Meticulously, Beth cut out an article from the morning's newspaper and taped it in a fresh page of her scrapbook.

"Who's Mary Wallace?"

"She's one of my children," said Beth. "Mary always wanted to become a judge, and she's finally been appointed. I'd like to think I played a role in helping her achieve this, but I'm proud of her just the same."

"Wow! May I see your scrapbook? Are these your children?" Kathy flipped through the pages of clippings from over the years. "They all seem so happy and successful."

"I'm proud of each and every one of them." Beth smiled and looked at her fingers as she rubbed them in her lap.
     
"Beth?"
"Yes, Kathy?"
"There's about thirty people in this book. Are you... sure they're all your children?"

"Yes." Beth extended her hands so gracefully and with such conviction in her eyes that Kathy returned the scrapbook without question.

"Okay." Kathy smiled distantly, placed a hand on Beth's shoulder, and walked away.

Beth patted the new clipping down flat and closed her book. With a cheeky grin, she read the cover to herself.

Dalkeith High, class of 1975.

Then she remembered something. Beth looked out the window at the groundsman and Cherie, and began to giggle.

 ~

Write On Wednesdays





Feb 3, 2012

The Write on Wednesday Spark - The Nature of Place

This week's writing exercise from InkPaperPen:
Write about a particular natural geography, a natural place or space close to your heart. Tell us about the weather, the landform , the creatures who live there, what the place means to you and why. You can write prose fiction, poetry, non-fiction and/or a photographic narrative. You might mix the landscape with a personal story. Wherever the prompt take you...Let us peek into your place.


Nowhere's nowhere...


"Mum."
"Quiet, honey, it's the adults' turn to speak."
I spat the bush fly off my lips and swatted around my face. "Mum, I need to go to the toilet."
Mum looked at me, paused, and turned away. Whatever words she had, she forgot to say them. The intense afternoon sun glared at me from behind her profile, and I shifted to stay in her shadow.

Mum and Dad were speaking to an old friend. As the friend's canoe rocked in the shallows of the river behind them, my desperation grew worse.
 "When are we going back to camp, Mum?"

Camp was in the middle of nowhere on the banks of the stunning Macalister River. It might be in the middle of nowhere, but at least it had a three foot wide tent housing a portable toilet seat with a biodegradable bag hanging from it. Camp was also on a section of river where, carved into the rocks, natural water slides were coated in slimy green moss, protecting the bum of your bathers.

However, after a long drive from camp, we were in Nowhere's nowhere.

"You'll just have to go in the bushes."

My sharp huff didn't disturb the fly patrolling my chin. My eyes drifted across the rough-cut stones, up the greyish sandbanks, and to the small cliff that hedged the river. High along the ridge were the only bushes my mum could be referring to.

I set off up the cliff, climbing from grass clump to grass clump. With my hands busy clutching tufts for dear life, the best I could do to swat the flies was blink. Why couldn't we be like normal families? Why was it that our holidays involved deadly bush tics and heat stroke? Was it normal to have fork lightning blast a hole in your accomodation? I just want to go to a toilet! Why couldn't we go on an aeroplane to Noosa? It's the eighties, dammit!
I stood up and dusted the dirt from my palms and arms. 

And I forgot the flies, and I forgot my thoughts.

In front of me, long grass grew over a gentle mound in a perfect circular clearing. The trees practically hugged each other to keep a tight wall around it. In the beautiful space within, hundreds of orange Monarch butterflies flitted in the air.

I walked into the cloud of butterflies, palms up and fingers reaching. I lowered each foot carefully; I blinked to prevent them landing in my eyes. My heart filled with the level of wonder at this world that makes you feel ageless, even as a ten year old.

I remained in the giant fluttering sphere until I couldn't stand it any longer.

I really had to pee.

Laughing with joy, I crouched down on that very spot, looking up at the blue sky spotted with such brilliant, orange, brief little lives. As I pulled one of my white socks off, I decided it was the grandest toilet in the world.
~

Write On Wednesdays


Jan 17, 2012

Perspective

Today I saw a woman sitting on the beach with her face glued to a tabloid magazine. The pages had pictures of other women having fun at other beaches...