Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Beware: I'm a Writer || or: meet my family!

Everyone knows writers are dangerous people to be around, right? We have the whole "if you annoy me I'll put you in my book and kill you" thing.

Which I have never done. Yet.

But people-watching is a great way to get new characters. Or figure out how your characters would realistically act. Or get hilarious dialogue. Which is what I'm here for today.

Sometimes I overhear things I reeeally want to use in my writing. And, since I don't leave the house that often, most of these things are overheard from my family.

If you're reading this, my dear family... I'm sorry. But you're living with a writer.

things my family have said (that I want to put in a book one day)

Sister 2: Are you asleep?
Me: ...yes.

Brother 2: "Canada's crashing the holiday bus!"
[I refuse to give you any context.]

Sister: Why is there water in my spot? *stabs it with her fork*

Me: ...why are you wearing sunglasses?
Brother 1: these are not sunglasses
Brother 1: these are night vision glasses
Brother 1: they make it look like it's night

Brother 2: I see two stars in a line!

Brother 2: (singing) You make me wanna shout
                  Kick my heels up and shout
                  Throw my arms up and shout
                  *trails off* ...and catch them?
Me: ...How?
Brother 2: ...with my hands. I kept those.

Sister 1: Do I have conversation in my eyes??

Mum: New rule. No Batman at the dinner table.
Sister 1: *hands still spread over her face in a 'mask'* *raspy voice* But... I'm Batman.
Mum: No.
Sister 1: ...
Sister 1: *dives under table*
Sister 1: *comes back out, rather disheveled* Batman had to go.
[We'd just seen the trailer for The Lego Batman Movie. Just. the. trailer.]

Mum: What are you doing on the roof?
General sibling group: ...what?
Mum: What are you doing on the roof?

Sister 1: You get too attached to things that are too easily broken.
Brother 2: *clutches his Lego creations protectively*
Brother 2: You used to cry too when it was pack-up time.

Brother 1: Can I borrow your camera? I'll try not to fill it up.
Me: With photos of bugs?
Brother 1: *walking away* *completely seriously* No, dragons. 

Brother 2: *into disconnected radio* Got a coffee, mate, got a coffee?
Me: ...
[I don't know how universal it may or may not be, but Aussie truckies open UHF conversations with "Got a copy, mate?"]

Sister 1: My genius is ruined on you.
Me: I think you mean wasted?

Any sibling: There's a bug in my dinner!!
Dad: It's fine. He won't eat much.
[On the other hand, if it's a caterpillar, the answer is "He only tastes like the cabbage, that's all he's ever eaten..."]

Sister 1: She thinks she's the bee's bonnets.

Sister 1: *drinking*
Me: *comes into kitchen*
Sister 1: *drops cup of water* *slaps her hands across her face in her 'mask'*
               *raspy voice* ...What do you want?
Me: ...
Me: Don't forget to clean that up.
Sister 1: ...but I'm Batman.

Sister 1 is the drama queen of the family (and the possibility of her reading this post is... higher than I'd like.) Do you have siblings, and do they sometimes say downright hilarious things? Or are you the hilarious one in your family? What's the funniest dialogue you've overheard? (doesn't have to be from your family!) Is this standard Dad behaviour, and do you have any message for Sister 1?? (I suggest stop being such a drama queen, kid, but I suppose I'm biased?)

Friday, 25 August 2017

Beautiful People #27 || I finally talk about Three Sisters

Annnd August's Beautiful People has been open since - well - the start of August?? - but I'm just getting around to it now. (Because if I procrastinate too much longer, it'll be September.)

Beautiful People is a link-up hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, so thank'ee kindly, ladies, for that.

I'm going to go with one of my three major characters from Three Sisters for this. (You would never have guessed there were three major characters in a story with the working title Three Sisters, would you??)

I should probably give a little context? since I haven't talked much about my writing at all?)
There are three sisters in Three Sisters (cue more astonished surprise); Billie, Elsie and Josie (or Ells and Josh... but never Bill). They live in a forest, in a cottage they [Billie, mostly] built themselves, and in varying degrees of uncomfortable-ness. Josie likes the freedom and spends her time riding their bony old horse around and waving a bow; despite having lived in the forest for seven months, she still views their life as a great adventure. Elsie... well, she had a life before they came to live here; she dislikes the forest, pours her heart into her writing, and feels her sisters don't appreciate how hard she works making their life tolerable (she does the cooking etc). Billie does appreciate Elsie, but she won't say it; they've all had to make sacrifices for this new life, and Billie keeps it going by sheer stubbornness and very hard physical labour.

The story opens with Josie coming home unusually rattled; she was caught poaching in the forest by its legendary resident beast, who demanded her life in forfeit. Billie makes light of it, but when the Beast turns up at their cottage, furious that Josie didn't honour her bargain (to say goodbye to her sisters and then return), Billie is ready with the crossbow. Which... is a commendable effort, but doesn't do much. Out of options, she offers herself to pay for her sister's crime; although she isn't aware, this, according to traditions held from ancient times, is binding: the Beast can neither refuse, nor in any way harm her.

So now Elsie and Josie, believing Billie dead, argue and leave the safety of their cottage. Meanwhile the Beast - who, as I'm writing him, is turning out more and more like a grumpy/legalistic but very bewildered great-uncle who just wants to be left in his library while everyone follows the RULES (no romance involving him, by the way) - has an angry young woman prowling around his house and smashing his china because she can't leave but she can see (via a handy book that's basically a magic mirror in book form) her sisters making dangerous choices without her there to stop them.

Annnd... that's basically as far as two 10k Camp Nanos have taken me.

I have more in mind, including a Cinderella thread, a Robin Hood thread + bandits, an angry empress, sisterly loyalty + sisterly fury, and nods to various fairy tales.

Please note: all of this is regarding a nowhere-near-finished first draft. Characters and plot are still developing. Answers are not set in stone. In fact, I will probably tend to waffle for a while and then admit I don't know the answers.

Oh, and I'm answering these questions for Billie. ;) Time-wise, this is probably... soon after she's taken?

What are they addicted to/can’t live without? 

Billie can't live without her own strength. She has to be in control of the world/situation around her. So... does that make her... addicted to power??

That... was not my intention.

But the transition to her new life in the forest has meant she's had to live without a lot of things, and (so far as I know) she's not addicted to anything physical. Like, say, coffee. (That's a strange foreign drink which [it's strongly implied that] one of the other characters introduces them to.) So I think anything she can't live without is definitely non-physical.

Like power  control of the world around her her own strength, so she can protect herself and her sisters. (Because that has gone amazingly so far... I suppose she did manage to keep things going for seven months, though.)

It's actually also likely that she can't live (or wouldn't have been able to create this new life) without her anger (see the 'what are they holding on to' and the 'someone they resent' questions, below).

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

Positive: Protective, strong-willed, strong
Negative: Over-protective/controlling, stubborn, relies on her own strength instead of trusting others

Oh look, they're basically the same. I love it when that happens. I think it's a good thing for characters' strengths to potentially be their weaknesses.

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of? 

I can't think of anything. As far as physical objects go, anything with an emotional attachment got dumped when their forest life started. Instead she keeps a simmering lump of completely justified anger and resentment.

...I suppose she should get rid of that??

...Or I could kill the other person.

...After all, that lump of bad feelings is probably 49% of what drives her to make their new life succeed, no matter how hard it is. (Basically, out of spite. "Haha you dumped us, but look at us now. We're doing F I N E." *attacks problem with sharp-bladed shovel* "JUST F I N E.")

(The other 51% is protectiveness. Because I too am a big sister.)

(I think we're far enough off topic now and I should move on.)

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale? 

Um. She used to be probably an 8? but her new life involves a lot of nature and nature isn't really something you can keep organised. I think she likes inside the cottage to be tidy (at least, she put up hooks and stuff), but otherwise she's silently rebelling against her old life and has embraced the mud and sweat and deliberately does things which she would never have done in her old life because #ew. Not that that's relevant to how organised she is. I'd say probably more like a 4 or 5 now.

What most frustrates them about the world they live in? 

Billie gets frustrated when she can't control the world around her. She did it in her old life, and with enough stubbornness and sweat, she can usually do it in this new one. Except when she can't. Mostly that's because of the Beast, but sometimes it's Elsie or Josie being rebellious.

e.g. [Billie yelling at the book:] "I told you not to leave the house where do you think you're going get back here this instant or else" (Beast: "I'll just... there was something I urgently had to do... on the other side of the house." *leaves awkwardly*)

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in? 

I may have mentioned "rebelling against her old life" and "spite" in my previous answers??

Billie would wear her most worn-out dress - clean, but still worn-out, and completely not the kind of dress that's worn on a 'night out'. And her boots. Not just because she only has a few dresses (and scrubbing the mud out of them kind of wears them out) (and they're a bit darned around the hem and knees) but because she refuses to be the girl she once was. Because that life let her down and now she refuses to go with anything but the new life she built for herself + her sisters.

How many shoes do they own, and what kind? 

This is obviously a very important question, and I'm ashamed of myself for not having thought of it before.


One pair of scuffed leather boots; good-quality, but well-worn.

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had? 

Billie has a bony old horse. His name is Old Bill. Her sisters thought that was hilarious, but they're smart enough not to call her Bill. (She doesn't like it. Or she wouldn't like it... no one's actually dared do it, yet.) Unfortunately - although Billie could really use Old Bill for plowing the vegetable patch or for dragging logs - Josie has claimed him.

Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened? 

She resents her father. Because he chose the path that benefited himself and threw his daughters to the wolves.

I know... another terrible parent, when YA's full of them already. I'm sorry. I'll try to write some nice ones too.

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry? 

They have a cellar that Billie dug, and it usually has whatever game Josie's caught recently + vegetables from the garden. There would be leftovers from the last meal, in a bowl wrapped in a damp cloth, except they don't usually leave leftovers.


I hope you enjoyed that journey into my WIP! It's late, I know - August is almost over - but I've been enjoying other people's BP posts so much that I felt I had to do one. Plus I've been half-promising to give you a few more details about Three Sisters since, I don't know, April?

So. That's Billie! Do you think she sounds addicted to power?? Do you sympathise with the over-protective big sister or the younger ones who just want to have their own lives? What do you think of the Beast?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Quick survey || Jem vs. technology

On my last post, Ivie made it known to me that my sidebar isn't showing up right.

[If you can see a big white space on the left, that's where the sidebar's supposed to be.]

When I looked into it, I found that, for me, Firefox worked fine, while Chrome and IE didn't. I also discovered that the sidebar was not gone, but was off-screen: if I zoomed waaay out, it's still there (and it's pushing the footer down too far). Like so:

I spent such a long time going through forums, which said mostly that the probable cause is A) copying content from Word or somewhere else, which brought incompatible formatting with it, or B) an unclosed <div> somewhere.

Then I spent sUCH. A LONG. TIME. going through all my posts. (I'm just glad I don't have more, which is not something I usually say.) And while I found (and ruthlessly ironed out) some frankly disgusting HTML,

I can't find the problem.

So I need a favour.

Could you please write and tell me:
1. What browser are you using?
2. Can you see the sidebar?
3. If not, do you have any idea when you last saw it?

I would really appreciate it. Your comment doesn't have to be long or flowery. I typically worry that my comments will seem terse if they're too short, but if you write even just write one-word answers, I will be very grateful for the information.

Thank you for aiding me in the fight against the technology. I know with your assistance I can crush its rebellion.

...thank you, Strax. I'll keep your advice in mind. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

ideas from Pinterest || theme: EXPLOSIONS

My "ideas from Pinterest" posts have been pretty fun to write. So far there's been:

"Snarky dialogue" is the obvious next step. I'll think about it.

But today - as promised - it's explosions. Coupled with a fair bit of snark.

And in the vein of this theme, let us start with Tony Snark + explosions.

I'm sorry, did I typo and write Tony Snark??
That was obviously an accident

"Technically, it wasn't on fire."
"Of COURSE it wasn't on fire! You completely blew it up!"

"It's only on fire a little bit. You can still use it."

"I said finesse. Do you happen to know the definition of finesse?"

"I'm looking for a place to crash. Mine blew up."

"Do you even know how to drive this thing?"
"Normally I'd lie and say yes, but considering the fact that I almost flew us into that building, I'm going to assume you know the answer."

"Some gifts are better left unopened. I'm particularly referring to the ones that explode."

"The phrase 'Ignore it and it will go away' does not apply to being chased by a dozen cop cars. Trust me on this one."

"I don't go looking for trouble. I just enjoy befriending it."

"...and then I set the fire."
"No fires."
"But my plan is awesome."
[Third character:]"Since when have we accepted pyromaniacs onto this team?"

"Give me one good reason why I should buy you a cart full of fireworks."

"We can't have a crisis! My schedule is already full."

"In my defense, I was left unsupervised."

"So what're you up to?"
"Nothin' dangerous, if that's what you're asking."
"...Our definitions of dangerous must be sliiightly different."

"The results of an explosion are often very curious."

"Small fire! I said to set a small fire! This is not small!"

"Burning a bridge takes too long. I prefer explosives."

For some reason I can NOT find a gif which includes the explosion??
Which is super annoying because I need it for my life.


Okay, so not all of these were specifically about explosions? but you can make them about explosions. And that's all that matters, really.

Do you write about explosions? Do you have suggestions for themes for my next Pinterest ideas posts? Do you write posts at eleven at night? because I don't recommend it 

Talk to me about anything! including the fact that apparently Iron Man's arc reactor is triangular in this suit?? I did not know that.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Of Cookies and Books

And today we have... *drum roll*... a tag!

Actually, no. Today we have BOOKS. So stop groaning.

okay it's a book tag

Thanks to Julian at Saver of Memories for giving me this opportunity to rave about books! :)

Of Cookies and Books

...Hang on.

A quick word before we get to the books:

I have never eaten a cookie in my life.

OY - there's no need for rotten fruit!!

I'm an Aussie. We call them biscuits. (I believe in the USA 'biscuits' are what you call scones??) And for the same cultural reason I may be changing some of the biscuits. Because what even is a Dutch Snowball??

Yes. I could Google it. But I'm making a point here.

Chocolate Chip || a book that never gets old

Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) and Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen).

I love the writing style, so - even though I've read them often enough that I know the endings (which are unlikely to have changed since last time) - I still enjoy rereading them. I always come across snippets of humour of dialogue that are worth it, too.

Dutch Snowballs Cornflake and Sultana Biscuits || a book that gave you an unexpected surprise

I don't know what Dutch Snowballs are, so I'm changing this one to Cornflake/Sultana Biscuits. Because you think they're choc-chip and then they're not and you get a mouthful of deceit and betrayal. And biscuits with cornflakes are always stale. I suppose this would be, specifically, an unpleasant surprise. Never mind.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie) certainly surprised me. That twist. I didn't actually realise that was even possible.

Also the ending of All Fall Down (Ally Carter). I didn't see that coming either. (Not the very end, which seemed a little ordinary considering what she'd been through, but the bit just before the end. That bit. If you've read it you know what I'm on about.)

It's really hard to talk about books with surprises without spoiling the surprises. Or else sounding really weird.Or both, which is my usual preference.

[I feel I must add here that, by definition, all surprises are unexpected??]

Molasses Jamdrops || a book with a character that gets in a sticky situation

(Jamdrops were the only biscuits I can think of that could be sticky. Not perfect, but here in Australia, we feed molasses to the cows, not put it in biscuits. [Syrup is used in cooking.])

The False Prince (Jennifer Neilsen) and the rest of the Ascendance Trilogy. Sage gets into more sticky situations than you'd think possible, as you'll know if you've read the books. If you haven't, wHY ARE YOU HERE. DEPART THIS INSTANT FOR YOUR LIBRARY.

(After leaving a comment, obviously.)

Oreo || a book dealing with the light and the darkness

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) deals thematically with light and darkness, and with great success, I feel.

Jill Williamson's book By Darkness Hid also has to be mentioned... it definitely deals with light and darkness. ;P

Sugar Hundreds and Thousands Biscuits || a book with a sugary sweet villain

This is an Arnotts Hundreds and Thousands biscuit.
Image from Google.

Apparently I read all the wrong books, because no villains fitting that description come instantly to mind. Probably the closest would be Opal Koboi from the Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer). She's not exactly "sugary sweet"... she's a psychotic pixie... but she has great one-liners/insults/comebacks.

Monster Shortbread || a book that confused your emotions

Shortbread confuses me because I'm supposed to like it (everyone else does, apparently) and I don't??

And when I first read "monster cookie", this was the only thing coming to mind -

(I have since checked Google. Your Monster biscuits. I like them. ANOTHER.)
(But why would they confuse your emotions??)

As for books: I recently read Go Set a Watchman and that confused my emotions, let me tell you. It twisted my feelings up and then sat on them. Without having the decency to untangle them afterwards. I have no idea what the ending was. (Confession: I'm waiting for my mother to read it so she can explain.)

Snickerdoodle || a book that made you laugh

Originally I thought 'snickerdoodle' would be one of the first biscuits to go. I mean, I'd never even heard of the thing! Buuut, I can't think of any other biscuits that make me laugh, and snickerdoodles do. Just by their name. So, snickerdoodle, you get to stay.

How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell; any of Odo Hirsch's books for kids (try Hazel Green or the Will Buster trilogy); the HIVE series by Mark Walden (warning: comes with character deaths).

Also The Red Book (Beck and Matt Stanton).

Probably best if you don't read this picture-book to young children, though.

Peanut Butter || a book with a nutty character

(I have had biscuits with peanuts [didn't like them much], but never a biscuit with peanut butter.)

The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer) - Opal Koboi is nutty, as is Mulch. Foaly's not entirely stable either (he's a centaur wearing a tin-foil hat, so...)

The Fixer (Jennifer Lynn Barnes) - Asher's a pretty odd character.

Anzac || a book set in Australia

Can you believe, I actually had to make this one up myself??

Operation Foxtrot Five. Independently published by Christian author from Western Australia, D.J. Stutley. Go read the series now. NOW. While it's unlikely you'll find them in your local library, you can buy ebooks directly for ONE. AUSTRALIAN. DOLLAR. Seriously, that's like 80c in America??

(I am not being paid to say this, by the way ;)

Another Australian author is Jackie French; she writes historical and Australian fiction. Her historical books for kids can be great. I recommend Tom Appleby Convict Boy, Soldier on the Hill, Diary of a Wombat (picture book, very funny) and The Shaggy Gully Times (picture book/'newspaper', full of editor's notes in ink, very funny).

And I tried - but couldn't manage - to fit in Tim Tams, because they're awesome. "Two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate." Do you have Tim Tams in the USA? (just checking)

Now you've read my ravings, here are the [original] questions: 
Chocolate chip - a book that never grows old
Dutch snowballs - a book that gave you an unexpected surprise
Molasses - a book with a character that gets into a sticky situation
Oreo - a book that deals with light and darkness
Sugar - a book with a sugary sweet villain
Monster - a book that confused your emotions
Snickerdoodle - a book that made you laugh
Peanut butter - a book with a nutty character

And I tag anyone who wants to do this. Normally I don't take the easy way out - I try to make it personal and tag even just one or two people - but honestly I've been working on this tag longer than it deserves?? and I don't know who's already done it. So. I would love to see anyone take this tag!

And. Since we're talking about books, I am also on Goodreads, and I ALWAYS want book recommendations. I also love knowing when other people I know adore my favourite books. (That sentence didn't make as much sense as it could have. Just go with it.) So feel free to connect with me on Goodreads! I'm very friendly! Truly! What, have you been talking to my sisters??

Have you read any of these books? Want to fangirl with me? Are you confused as to why Artemis Fowl doesn't have a bigger fandom?? (I tried to google images for the quotes? and there were none??) Have you ever read D.J. Stutley's books?? (we will be friends forever and I may suffocate you with my excitement) Am I missing out on great "cookies"? What biscuits would you recommend? Tell me all in the comments!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A quick update for July!

I haven't commented on any of your lovely blogs for several days, and it's been almost a fortnight since I posted. My excuse is, of course, Camp NaNo. (Among other things. Such as study/family stuff/watching An Unexpected Journey with my brother.) The last few days have been rather stressful because I apparently don't know how to prioritise. Or focus. Not until things are looking quite dire, anyway.

But I did win.

And now I'm both really, really pleased, and quite a bit ashamed of myself. For the same reason:

Sliiight mid-month slump here.

What I'm pleased about:
I WROTE 3.4K IN ONE DAY. (My previous maximum was 1.8k.)

What I'm ashamed of:
Since I wrote 4.6k in the last two days... I could have written way more than 10k total. If I'd tried harder.

But I'm a Master Procrastinator and can't actually get anything done until riiight before the deadline?? [E.g. Tertiary study assessments. Due in two days. I'll have a look at that now I've finished Camp.]

I was actually concerned that I'd procrastinated too far:

BUT I spent a lot of time on the thirty-first and neglected real life and managed to pull my word count up to reach the goal, to the cheers of my super-encouraging cabinmates.

Me writing on July 31st. Obviously. 

So! How did Camp go for you? Or if you didn't participate this time around, how's your month been for writing? Tell me in the comments! 

Although I probably will be checking up on a heap of blogs now. And you've probably written about your month there. Never mind! Tell me in the comments anyway! ;)