Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections 2010 - The Good Stuff

Not everything about 2010 was terrible. In fact, I have had more fun this year than all the other years combined.

2010 was a year of friendship.

After several years of meeting no one but fair-weather and false friends (with some very wonderful exceptions), this year has proved me wrong about people. I am very happy that I was wrong. I had, prior to this year, abandoned the hope that humanity as a whole was any good. It sounds dramatic, I know, but I was quite finished with people.

However, the fledgling friendships and friendly acquaintances that began at the end of 2009 and the start of this year have blossomed in the most unexpected and beautiful ways. I can safely say that I now have true friends.

I find myself surrounded by such warm, positive and generous people now. I am so incredibly happy to be blessed with them in my life.

2010 was a year of firsts.

So this was also in 'The Bad Stuff' part of my reflections. Like so many terrible things that happen, it can also be a very good thing. I sent my first query, received my first rejection and set myself firmly on the (often rocky) road to publication. How is this a good thing?

The answer is in the word 'path.' This sounds very new-agey, I'm sure, but I think I've found my path; my purpose; objective; career goal or whatever else you want to call it. There is a profound sense of peace that comes with, for lack of a better term, 'being on your path.' It provides a focus for my intense energy that was previously scattered about, pulling me every which way. Now I'm being pulled in one direction only.

Some readers may recall my profound fear of failure. I had it when I first decided to focus on writing as a career choice. I was terrified that I would fail on all fronts and die alone and starving on a bed made from broken dreams. I sometimes still get like that, but increasingly less often.

Success, the way that many would measure it, is increasingly less important to me. While I would love to successfully shop a manuscript (particularly The Great Man series), it's the act of writing that fulfils me. Being published would just be an added (extremely gratifying, will always work towards it) bonus.

I want, no, have to write, and I am. Whatever else comes of it is secondary.

So though I have "failed" thus far to successfully sell and manuscript or even acquire an agent, I have the drive necessary to get there. Every rejection received strengthens my resolve to get that 'yes.' I will get there. In the meantime, I'll continue to write and writing makes me happy. That is why, despite the rejections, the process is positive.

2010 was a year of learning.

I touched on this in the 'Bad Stuff' post, and I should clarify. No learning is ever bad... well, unless you learn to hate, but that's different. What was bad was that the learning often hurt.

All the same, learning to combat my ego, learning that I'm not that good a writer (technically, at least), learning to format correctly, learning, learning, learning has made me a better writer, self-editor and a much better person.

That is good, even if it hurts!

2010 was a year of grounding, of letting go.

For the same reasons I listed above, and though it hurt, having my ego bruised was a good thing. It happened once before, when I first moved to Australia. The spoilt brat that I was quickly learned that haughty behaviour wouldn't fly and I became a kinder, more generous, if profoundly introverted, child. Being knocked around a bit with my writing has helped me improve, if a little shy about sharing my stuff. I've had to climb down from my high and get serious.

That's a very good thing.

Better yet, I've managed to let go of the fear of failure that kept me from trying. The world didn't end with my first rejection... perhaps it might with my first acceptance!

2010 was a year of hard work!

This is also a good thing. Of course, I don't mean intense labour like construction or anything. I meant hard work sitting at my computer, getting R.S.I. for all the typing. There were several projects flying around all at once that demanded my attention. To be perfectly honest, though, it isn't really hard work if work is play, as writing is for me.

I still despise editing, however.

I created, and released an e-Book (The Dying God & Other Stories), including all the illustrations therein. Sure it wasn't a smash hit, but I never expected it to be. As of the end of this year, I've sold a total of three (3) copies. A bit disheartening, but I was, fortunately, realistic from the off. I'm not crying over it, that's for certain. I'm considering releasing a paperback version in 2011, but haven't quite decided yet.

At the same time, I was editing, and rewriting bits of, and editing more an entry into the Terry Pratchett Prize. I managed to get it in on time. How good is the entry? I don't know. Time will tell. I expect that competition is really tough and I'm not expecting a miracle (though how incredibly cool would it be to win?!). Of the hundreds (possibly thousands) of authors who entered, only six will be short-listed. Those six will be announced at the end of March, 2011. From that list, the winner will be chosen. That is announced the end of May, 2011. If I don't hear anything by April 01, I know I'm free to shop this manuscript around.

While this was going on, there was my The Great Man series that was being fixed up and changed around (since I decided not to shop it any more, I was free to muck around with it a bit). Granted, I abandoned it mostly until both The Dying God and The Osprey and the Crow (the Terry Pratchett Prize entry) were complete and in.

All of this was surprisingly hard work, but it kept me busy, and challenged, and interested. That kept my feeling fulfilled.

Fulfilled, by the by, is the best state to be in. Happy sigh.

2010 was the year of finding me.

I had said it before, I was completely lost prior to deciding on my career as a writer. Whether I'll be a published writer is up for debate, but that's for another post (I will get there!). Since that decision, things have been sliding in place piece by piece. Somewhere along the way, I found me. I'm comfortable within myself for the first time ever in my relatively short life. I can face past hurts and the causes of those hurts with a smile (and some heavy sarcasm). I feel whole, and stable, and just... good (for lack of a better word. The writer in me is shaking her head).

Ahhhh, bliss!

2010 was the year of fun!

I have had so much fun this year. I've been writing, which I find fun. There have been numerous gatherings with friends and family, filled with laughter and joy, which are always fun. Sure, there have been some pretty rough moments for me this year, but looking back, I wouldn't trade a single moment for anything. I have had fun, and I feel open and fresh and alive.

For all the tumult, the frustration, the tears, the hair-pulling and the many moments when I thought I just couldn't make it, 2010 was a wonderful year.

To all my friends and family, and to those who've helped me along this year, a colossal thank-you! It is you that have made 2010 one of the best years of my life. Here's wishing you a spectacular 2011.

I raise my glass to you all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections 2010 - The Bad Stuff

2010 was an insane year, wasn't it? Am I the only one who feels like it was just insane? So much has happened this year that I can't reflect on it all in one blog post. Thus, Reflections 2010 has been split into two.

For me, at least, 2010 was a year of learning. I climbed a very steep learning curve this year, and many of the lessons hurt. For some of them, I'm still trying to figure out what the lesson was.

2010 was a year of firsts.

I sent my first query (for The Third Prince) in 2010, and I received my first literary rejection. To be perfectly honest, I was quite satisfied with that one rejection. I'm being totally serious. I was. I even felt a little bit excited. I opened the letter, read the (form) rejection and thought to myself, 'Here I go!' It was the first step to becoming a true blue, honest to goodness, published author. It was exciting. However, by the tenth rejection, the novelty began to wear off, and I started to get dejected. I'm sure the people who have been reading this blog regularly will know all about my roller-coaster response to querying and rejection.

It wasn't fun. It still isn't fun. It's frustrating. It's infuriating. It's downright depressing.

I went through almost a full year of rejections before I gave up. That's when Carlos stepped in and gave me a hand. The biggest problem - format. How could I have not thought of it? Everything has a format. Why did I not look into the proper format for novel manuscripts? I am SUCH an idiot! I had researched everything else. All I had to do was plug in 'proper format for novel manuscript' to, and I'd have the proper format.


Though I believe my story is good, agents probably didn't even read it because it was presented so poorly. That explains the form rejections, at least. The thing is, many agencies don't allow resubmission. I had materially damaged my chances of success with The Third Prince.

Writing Yoda says: 'A lesson there is to be learnt here, young writer!'

Format is important. Sigh.

I shall have to put away The Third Prince now for some time. I won't shop it around again, even though it's been formatted correctly now, for perhaps a number of years. Who knows?

I also learnt that I am not as good a writer as I thought I was. Sure, I have the imagination, but when it comes to the technical stuff... meh, not so much. My biggest problem (aside from format) is passive voice, apparently.

This is something I have to work really, really, really hard to fix. I have a tendency to write as I speak. Perhaps I speak with a passive voice? I have also been primarily writing academic pieces prior to taking up fiction as a serious pursuit. A friend of mine was kind enough to point out that academic writing uses passive voice almost exclusively. This passive voice thing will be a hard habit to break.

I also have been told that I have an archaic turn of phrase. I wonder if this has anything to do with my passive writing style? I'm not sure.

2010 was the year I had to swallow my pride - my first real editing experience.

This actually came as a shock to me. I take great pride in my work, but I was certain that my pride wouldn't interfere with my improvement. I'm a pretty grounded person, normally. I can take criticism pretty well. Yet when my short story Her Father's Eyes was chosen to be included in the anthology Unlocked (YAY!) through my friends at, I had a hell of a time with the editing process.

Part of it was that I was quite unused to the editing style. Most of my writerly friends and Beta Readers leave little comments for me without actually changing any of the words on the page itself. They will say such things as: "This sentence doesn't make sense. What are you trying to say here?", "You're not serious? Find a better word!", "wtf?" and even, "This paragraph is utter crap." They may, if I'm lucky, leave suggestions for improvements without changing the sentences themselves.

I was quite taken aback when I found large sections of the story rewritten. I got defensive, which was idiotic, really. I mean, I must listen to the editors if I'm to improve (though, there are some things which I still find I was justified in standing my ground for, but many things I was not). After all, I've only ever written for pleasure, and my audience has only been (largely) my mother. What the hell would I know?

I had to swallow my pride. It was a tough thing to do. It was tougher still realising that it was what I needed to do, if that makes sense.

I learnt so much writing this year - which is a very good thing. However, I should have known it all before I started submitting. That is to say, my research was sub-par. I'm a little upset at myself for being so hasty with my submissions. I've certainly learnt from that, I'll tell ya!

On a more personal level, 2010 was the year of disappointment.

Not that this has anything to do with my writing, but I've been single a very long time, and, seeing as how I want a family, I figured I ought to be more proactive about it.

I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, never, EVER try online dating ever again. Ever. Go me for being proactive, but I am now so disillusioned by humanity, I think I'll become a hermit. Oh, there were the typical terrible first dates. There are some real, uh, morons out there. One evening (first date) ended like this:

Date: "Can I come in?"
Me: Um... No...
Date: But I bought you dinner!

I have never slammed a car door so hard in my life.

There was one hopeful I saw very casually... until I saw him lock lips with someone else, just by chance in the supermarket. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't that upset by it. Angry on principle, but not really upset. There was worse to come.

2010 was the year of heartbreak.

This one caught me entirely by surprise. September of this year, my heart shattered quite unexpectedly and very inexplicably, rendering me a useless, sobbing lump for the better part of three weeks. It struck like a solid kick to the chest. I lost my breath and my heart ceased beating for a long, painful moment. I didn't blog about it because it had nothing to do with my writing.

Heartbreak is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It was the first, and hopefully last, time that it has happened to me and I am now filled with a better understanding and deeper appreciation for the struggles the heartbroken face. I used to get so annoyed with people who moped about after others. Indeed, I got really annoyed at myself (still am, a bit), but now I can approach others faced with the same situation with empathy.

I've been there.

I really was useless. I could barely get out of bed in the mornings. I burst into tears rather suddenly in public places (like on the bus or at work) as many as five times in a day. I had to force food down my throat. I cried myself to sleep nightly.

It. Was. Hard.

I'm much better now (thanks for asking), though every so often my heart cramps a little and tears hit my eyes.

There were some really tough moments in 2010. I've struggled through some incredible lows related to my writing... and not. It wasn't all doom and gloom however. I'll take you through the best bits tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

My Christmas was fantastic!

Though Hallowe'en is my favourite time of the year, Christmas is a very close second. Most especially now, surrounded as I am with wonderful people.

It's the people who make anything worthwhile, really (an uninteresting aside, I just typed that sentence with my eyes closed. Perhaps I shouldn't have had that coffee). If people are horrid, then it goes without saying that you'll have a horrid time. If people are warm, lively, loving and good, then it's almost guaranteed that you'll have a blast.

I had a blast. My father's family have to be one of the closest, warmest, most loving group of people I know. They are generous, fun-loving and kind. Christmas with them is always wonderful.

My father's family is very large. He has nine brothers and sisters, they each have children, and now we're at the stage where their children are having children. It's a BIG gathering all bundled up in love and laughter.

As there are so many people, it's simply uneconomical to try and buy gifts for all of them. The family has come up with an ingenious solution. Every year they have a theme. This year's was silver and gold. Every person buys one gift in that theme for their gender. Then, when the day comes, we all play games, and the winner of each round picks a gift from under the tree.

Not only is this an economical solution to what would be a extraordinary expense, it is also tonnes of fun. There was so much laughter this year, I'm still smiling 'cause of it.

I won a beautiful pair of long-stemmed champagne flutes and a gold purse this year. I won it by fanning a Christmas bauble onto a piece of paper with a cardboard box. It was a race.

Though the gift is beautiful, it's really the gathering that I adore the most.

I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful, loving, strong family.

Sigh. My Christmas was simply wonderful. How was yours?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!

My father always corrects me when I say that. "It's Merry Christmas!"

I argue it's all about semantics, really. So now, just to annoy all the purists, my typical greeting has become:

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

I don't know why I take perverse pleasure in that...

In any case. Have a wonderful holiday. I am taking a short break from both writing and blogging (which is just another type of writing, in all honesty) for the Christmas break. You won't hear from me until the 29th.

Just to bring you down from your celebration at my silence, here's one of my favourite Christmas time songs ever:

I remember the first time I heard this song. I was in the back of a Land Rover (or was it a Pajero?) in The Philippines. As I listened to the song, tears just started. Out of nowhere. I looked out the window of the car and tried hard to keep my mourning quiet. My sister turned to me and said, "Sonia, are you crying?"

To which I stupidly replied, "No."

My sister decided to announce it loudly to the whole car. "Mum, Sonia's crying."

"I'm not!" I protested, despite the fact that tears were streaming freely down my cheeks at this point.

Mum turned around from the front seat and looked very concerned. "Sonia! What's the matter, love?"

I sniffed. "The song's sad."

There was a shocked pause before my mother burst into helpless fits of laughter, soon joined by my two older sisters. I was five years old.

I still tear up when I hear this song. Le sigh.

On that note, have a wonderful holiday season. I shall return on the 29th.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Eve

It's the eve of Christmas Eve. I intend to spend it with my imagination, and later, a good friend.

A strange occurrence yesterday, my imagination took the morning off. Quite normally it takes the afternoon off, and only because my aching fingers demand it. However, yesterday morning, my imagination took a long walk somewhere away from my head. It was frustrating. I gave up and started watching a bit of comedy on youtube. Then, just as I was preparing to wind down for the day, my imagination jumped straight back into my head and I belted out 2 000 words as quickly as I possibly could.

Not a bad effort, actually. I'm quite proud of that.

I'll hopefully be able to write in the morning today, and leave the afternoon for resting my fingers!

We'll see. I had best get on that. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Free At Last!

Ding, Dong!
The brace is off.
Which ol' brace?
The wicked brace.
Ding, Dong!
The wicked brace is off!

There is a dance party going on in my head right now. I am happily typing with all fingers on all hands because... you guessed it! The brace is off! Free at last!

I have the brace with me just in case the pain should flare up again, as recommended by the doctor at the clinic I went to.

I am hoping against hope that the pain does not flare up again. Though, to be honest, my wrist is a little bit achy. I'm not sure if that's because I haven't used it properly in a while.

I should be able to make 3 000 words without a problem today. I made 3 000 words yesterday (happily!), but it took me all day, and was rather irritating.

Plans for the holidays are not yet firmly set. I have dinner tonight with Facebook Costume Contest winner K.R. where I finally hand over her prize! Tomorrow night it's dinner with another friend. Friday I'm off to my father's house for a couple of days (but only a couple. My flatmate will be in Boston, and the cats need care). After that, who knows?

There isn't much else to report, so I'll stop boring you with the details. Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Little About Nothing

Perhaps it will be a lot about nothing. I can never tell when starting off a post.

In writing news, there isn't much to tell. I wrote a disappointing 2 000 words yesterday, and it took me all day to do it. This brace isn't much fun at all! Luckily for me, it comes off tonight and I'll be able to get on with my life. That will be lovely!

Last night was delightful. I spent it with friends. We had a Tron and pizza night. We watched the old Tron, of course. For all the 80's cheese, it was still a great flick and it brought back many wonderful memories. Tron, for myself growing up, was one of those movies we'd watch often. It was on the same VHS (or was it Beta Max. I can never remember) as The Secret of NIMH. We'd watch the two back to back fairly often.

For all that, I still did not remember it very well.

The evening was wonderful. I just adore that group of friends. They are all good people.

Well, I had best get started on my writing today. Hopefully I'll be able to get my regular 3 000 down today. Have a lovely Tuesday everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Bracing Weekend

Good morning everyone!

The brace is, unfortunately, still on. However, I will still attempt to write my daily target of 3 000 words. The brace comes off tomorrow evening, and hopefully stays off for the rest of my life. There will be a party.

Luckily, I have figured out a way to type with the brace on... sort of. It shouldn't be too much of a hassle to type! Hopefully there won't be very many typographical errors, either.

Some exciting news, for me at least. I finally have a pair of walking boots that don't leak! Celebration! I was tired of arriving to work with soggy socks. I walked into work this morning to test them out. I'm happy to say that my sock are nice and dry, and my feet were toasty warm the entire walk. I like these boots. So much so that I devoted an entire paragraph to them!

The weekend was wonderful. There was a small gathering at my place. J.M-B. had arranged a carolling party. I had dinner plans that evening, so didn't make it out carolling, but I did make it back in time for the drinks/food afterwards. It is always a good time with J.M-B. and co.!

Saturday was lovely also. Due to my brace, I didn't go to Lion Dance. I did teach, though and was presented with a lovely bottle of fortified cider. It's a great drink, actually.

Saturday evening was the Wutan Christmas party. Organised by my good friend, K.C. (who deserves public accolade for all his efforts - thank-you, K.C.!), it was a great time. Good people took over Singha Thai restaurant for the evening. A wonderful time was had by all, and I'm sure there shall be some very embarrassing footage floating about the inter-webs shortly.

I think I've said it enough, but it deserves saying again. I adore my "Kung Fu family."

Afterwards a select number of us went out to a local pub and had a few more drinks.

I felt that Sunday. It wasn't so much the alcohol as it was the lateness of my return. I am effectively an old lady when it comes to sleeping habits. I go to bed very early, usually. Around 10:30 or 11:00 pm with some few exceptions. Staying out 'till 3:00am was very unusual. It depleted my reserves. So, despite having no headache, exhaustion kept me to my bed all day Sunday. I needed to do the dishes, but just couldn't!

Not to worry. I'll probably do them this evening.

That was my weekend. How was yours?

Must dash. Computer is slow, thus writing will start late. Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Still Injured

Well, my wrist is still in a brace. I took it (the brace, not my wrist) off to sleep last night. It didn't start hurting until this morning a few minutes after I woke up. The doctor told me to continue to wear the brace until my wrist stopped hurting. So, I guess I'll be wearing the brace a little longer.

On the good side, I can type with two fingers on my right hand instead of just one. Yay!

Not that it will do me any good. It's French Friday today - which I probably won't even get to do as it is also the office Christmas/Winter Solstice luncheon. Free lunch? No complaints here!

There isn't much else to say, so I'll leave you all alone now. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh Dear!

Well, this is disastrous!

My wrist is still sore today. I can type well enough with my left hand, but the only finger I can use on my right hand is the ring finger, thanks to the lovely new brace I bought this morning. The doctor told me to wear a brace, and so I'm wearing one. The thing is, not only does it take me an age to write one simple sentence, but my clumsy right hand keeps hitting the wrong keys, and I have to keep deleting all the time.

Writing is going to take me forever!

I doubt I'll make my target 3 000 words today. So much for my impressive, well ahead of schedule lead.


Ah well. Such is life, I suppose. If I want my wrist to get better this is just the way it's got to be. Since that is the case, I best get started. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Price of 11 000 words in Two Days

Well now I've gone and done it. I don't know how I did it, but I did.

I noted on my Facebook page and on Twitter how writing 8 000 words made my fingers ache. The next day, I wrote my regular 3 000. That evening, after I had shut down the computer and left work I began to notice an acute pain in my wrist. It grew steadily worse the (very long because there was a snow storm) bus ride home.

By the time I got home I was in such agony I complained to my sick flatmate. Yeah, she was ill, and I was complaining to her. I'm a terrible, terrible person.

In my defence, my wrist was swollen and it hurt like mad. It honestly feels like I had fallen on it, without ever actually having fallen on it.

It still hurts like mad. I currently have it wrapped tightly in a boxer's wrist wrap, which I typically use for kick boxing. This is in lieu of a proper wrist brace. It's not perfect, but it'll do for now.

The good news is that I can still type. The bad news is that I cannot type fast, and some of the movements involving typing are quite painful. For example, reaching my forefinger to hit the 'y' key.


I should probably take it easy on the writing today. I'll try, but knowing my luck, I'll be so flooded with story that I won't be able to do anything else but! It reminds me of a quote that I read last night from Neil Gaiman:

"When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."Neil Gaiman

I laughed so hard when I read this because it's so very true. I like this quote so much, it's going right to the quote of the week space at the top of this blog next week.

On that note, the sooner I get today's writing over with, the sooner I can rest my wrist. I should get on that.

Have a lovely Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

St. Lucia Celebrations

As yesterday was St. Lucia Day, my flatmate threw a very small Lucia celebration. It was a wonderful gathering of three - K.M-B., J.M-B. and myself.

I came home from work and we ate meatballs in sauce, potato fritters and Swedish crackers with cheese or jam for dinner. The jam was made from a berry that was something like cranberry, but not quite. It didn't smell all that appealing, but tasted wonderful! I can't remember the name of the berry. Or the crackers for that matter.

With dinner eaten, we headed out to our local Canadian Tire (side note, I really despise that tyre (the thing that goes on the wheel) in North America is written as tire, which means fatigue. It shouldn't bother me because as a literate, educated person, I know that languages and spellings are as fluid as the cultures who use them. It does bother me. I don't know why.). Once there we picked up decorations and our 100% natural, biodegradable Christmas Tree. It was a Fraser Fir - a superior tree, apparently. I do have to say, it's nice the thick and looks great.

We carried the tree home over thick sheets of ice laid down by the freezing rain not a couple of days before. It was amusing to say the least.

Once home, we put the tree in the stand and started decorating. Long story short, the tree looks great! As threatened, poor Castiel became the tree-topper. He had previously been pinned to the wall for our amusement. I suppose the top of a tree is a step up. We even gave him a sparkly scarf to keep him warm.

Again, my apologies to Misha Collins who is a very fine actor. However, this was far too funny not to do!

We then drank some traditional warm Swedish Christmas drink. I'm not sure how it's spelled, but it's pronounced something like 'glurg.' I believe it's the sound one makes when very drunk and trying to speak. It's a little like fortified mulled wine. In any case, it was very tasty.

We also donned silver tinsel crowns and danced to traditional Swedish Christmas songs. Some of them had actions, some of them were just holding hands and dancing in a circle. It felt a little odd with just three people, but it was still fun.

Our upstairs neighbours had a good time observing our carrying-on through the window from their car. I can only imagine what was going through their heads at the time. Ah well, we had the Christmas spirit!

At the end of the evening, we took a group photo pretending to be angels. As it turns out, there are two angels, and one very obvious imposter. What evil plot do you think I'm devising here? Mwah hah hah ha!

In writing news, I don't know what drug I took yesterday, but I was a writing powerhouse. I ended up writing 8 000 words. If I write nothing today, I'm still ahead of the game. However, the story is running through my head at break-neck speed, so I'm planning to write today. Perhaps not so much. My fingers ached a great deal yesterday afternoon!

Well, I best start writing again. Have a wonderful Tuesday everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Traditional Lucia Day song, sung by New Zealand talent Hayley Westenra

Google Translate informs me that in Swedish it's said:

Glad Saint Lucia

Though I have a feeling this isn't quite correct.

I am not Swedish, so I generally don't observe the tradition of St. Lucia's Day. My flatmate, however, is, and she does. Thus this morning I received a lovely wake-up of my flatmate entering my bedroom wearing a white dress with a red sash, carrying a lit candle and a platter with a cup of tea and a tradition saffron bun for breakfast. I have to say, in the dim grey light of a cloudy barely dawn, the warm golden glow of the candle was something to behold.

What a lovely wake-up that was.

For those who are not one of or descendant from the Scandinavian countries where St. Lucia's Day is observed (according the the online Encyclopaedia Britannica those would be Sweden, Norway and the Swedish-speaking regions of Finland), I have to tell you, it's one of those Christian holidays with a history that goes further back than Christianity.

The day is named for a very early Christian martyr, killed in 304 AD by the Romans. It is said she carried food to persecuted Christians in Rome. Upon her head she wore a crown of candles so that she would have light, and still two hands free for carrying food to those in need.

In Scandinavian tradition it is noted that in Värmland, Sweden, a maiden dressed in white, wearing a crown of candles, brought food to starving villagers in a village on the shores of Lake Vänern.

It is celebrated, generally, by a festival which involves an elected St. Lucia, wearing a crown of candles, who leads a choral procession of boys and girls dressed in white. They sing traditional Swedish Christmas songs. Afterwards there is drinking, dancing and singing around the Christmas Tree. It is the day that generally begins the Christmas festivities.

It happens to fall on December 13th, which, according to the old Julian Calendar, was the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, and is known as the Festival of Lights. It was celebrated long before the addition of Christ in to festivities. Light (candles and bonfires) was often a part of these traditions as it was the very beginning of the solar year - the rebirth of the sun.

According to one source, the Scandinavian Goddess Lucina (Goddess of Light) was replaced by the Roman Saint Lucy (Patron Saint of Light) on this day.

Whatever the tradition, it's a glorious day indeed, and a lovely tradition to be woken by.

So whether your Christian, or Pagan, or don't particularly care, Happy St. Lucia Day!

In writing news, I was very good about my French Friday, and spent all day on French, which means I really did writing nothing. I must get back to it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Life is Ridiculous

Reflecting on the ridiculous things that have happened this week and the crazy fun I've had, I realise just how ridiculous my life has been. I mean ridiculous in a good way, as has been the theme of this week.

Sure, I've had some hellish moments. All in all, however, I am one incredibly lucky person.

I've lived in seven cities in five countries all around the world.


Sure, one ended up being a war zone, and I can remember trying to fall asleep to the sound of machine gun fire moving through the city, and I have a fear of helicopters (it's the sound. It puts my teeth on edge and makes my shoulders rise) now. Thinking on it also, growing up in small town Australia was far from heaven - people threw rocks at me. I was also assaulted. I developed teenage depression that went well and truly beyond the relatively normal I'm-a-walking-cocktail-of-out-of-control-hormones kind of angst.

All the same, I've had ridiculous amounts of exposure to different cultures, which has made me a better person. I'm more open-minded, more tolerant, more understanding, and far less ignorant than many people my age... and older, come to think of it.


Probably not surprisingly, I felt miserable and restless in Australia, not sure where I belonged or what I was supposed to do with my life. Then, six months after graduating High School and moving as far away from that town as possible, came the option of moving to Canada.


I'll admit, I was exceptionally cautious about this decision, but in the end, I decided on a one-way ticket. Now, if someone asked me to move to China, I'd do it in a heart-beat. Hello adventure! In any case, I was terrified of change when I was seventeen.

No offence to my Australian friends, but - best. move. ever. It took me a few years, and one very hellish, two-faced, backstabbing, hypocritical viper of a false friend (I'm not still bitter about it....) who had me about ready to slit my wrists (I wish I was exaggerating, but this girl put me in a very bad place - on purpose), but I found somewhere I didn't stick out like a sore thumb.

I entered and completed an very cool university degree; Bachelor of Arts, Honours, Directed Interdisciplinary Studies - Ancient Cultures, concentration in Celtic Studies. Say that all in one breath!.


In my last year of university, I started Kick-boxing with Wutan Canada. Then I signed up for training in Chinese Weapons as well. How cool is that? Ridiculously cool, that's how cool. Then I decided I might as well go for all three and signed up for Kung Fu as well. Now I have the opportunity to train three hours a night four nights a week for a very reasonable price, and I take full advantage of that.


I've met so many wonderful people through that school. I find myself continually blessed by some of the best, most supportive friends I think I'll ever know. How lucky am I?


A couple of years ago, inspired by Peter Jackson's portrayal of the Rohirrim (yes, I'm a geek, I thought this was established), I searched around for some Equestrian Archery lessons. Would you believe that there's a guy nearby here that teaches that? How cool is that? Now ever summer, I get out to ride and shoot arrows every chance I get.


After graduating university, I was lost for a while. I mean, really lost. I had no idea what to do. I didn't have enough money to pursue further education (though I did, and still do, really want to do a masters degree). I worked retail until I found another job.

This particular job was hell. I was basically at the beck and call of a 40 year-old toddler, who would tell me one thing, then change his mind, then get made at me if I did it one way or the other. He bounced eight of my pay-cheques. I was broke and my credit score was sliding. I felt bullied, miserable and angry. Then the miserable [insert expletive] fired me a few days before my one year mark so he wouldn't have to pay me severance. What a jerk.

Also, that was after I booked my holidays and paid for my plane ticket home. If I had known I would be out of a job, I might have stayed in Australia for a month instead of just two weeks. Perhaps I might have moved their permanently. Who knows?

I got back and lived on precisely half my wage for two months. That was miserable, since I was paid little better than when I worked retail by my former employer. I cried myself to sleep nightly.

Then, the following year I scored the most amazing job - a job which lets me, even encourages me, to pursue my dream of becoming a published author. As long as I do the work expected of me, I'm welcome to write. So write I do. I get paid the same as my former job with much less stress and a chance to make it in my chosen field. How many people can boast that? Hardly anyone.


I am so incredibly ridiculously blessed, and I am so incredibly, ridiculously grateful to be here right now. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all the bad stuff, so, though it sometimes brings me down, I'm grateful for that too.

The only thing that could make my life better right now is a publishing contract. Hopefully that will be coming along too. So, I'd just like to take the time to say:

Dear Universe,

You are ridiculous. Thanks so much for everything you've done, and will do!



Wow a long post.

In writing news, French Friday, abandoned months ago in a mad effort to make my manuscript ready for the Terry Pratchett Prize, has made a return. This means I will not be doing any writing today... most likely.

Have a lovely, ridiculous weekend. I'm looking forward to mine, which looks to be just as ridiculous as the rest of this week, and indeed my life, has been!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Friends Are Ridiculous

Last night was hilarious fun - a casual evening of pizza, wine and DDR on the Wii. For those who don't know, DDR = Dance Dance Revolution.

Man was it ridiculous fun!

You want ridiculous? Watch people stomp on a mat until they fall over (or very nearly).

I'll be the first to admit. When it comes to DDR, I'm bloody terrible. Not as terrible as some, but terrible. I misstep and I flail and I swear and giggle and probably look like a running-man robot that's gone out of control. I take comfort in the fact that my friends all looked much the same.

I'm am so glad that my friends are ridiculous, and don't have any of that false pride that stops people from having fun.

It was a great night. We ought to do it again!

On the writing front, I only managed to do 2 000 words yesterday. I'm slipping! However, I do have the rest of the story now tucked safely in my head, and I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to get to 3 000 words today... if only I can focus!

Must focus.

On that note, have a ridiculously good Thursday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Flatmate is Ridiculous

I have to share this with you because I can't stop giggling about it.

Monday was both bad and good for me. It got better towards the end of the day, when I finally managed to settle in and write. I wrote a surprising amount, and felt very accomplished.

My flatmate also felt very accomplished, but for a different reason. She had spent much of the day and all her creative abilities making this years angel tree-topper. The thing was, she decided to make this while drinking whiskey and watching Supernatural.

Can you guess our tree-topper? Yup...

My flatmate is ridiculous.

Now I could grumble and moan about our Castiel tree-topper, but the fact of the matter is, I'm a huge dork, and I love it. I giggle like a mindless school girl every time I walk into the living room and see Castiel glowering at me. I can't help it.

This was inspired genius.

A Very Supernatural Christmas? I think so!

My most profound apologies to Misha Collins, whose face will now grace the top of our Christmas tree and is the basis for my constant amusement. It couldn't be helped. You have to expect these things when you play an angel on a show with an overly imaginative audience. Just sayin'.

When the tree is up and decorated, I'll post a picture so that you too, can giggle hysterically at poor Castiel, who has been relegated to tree-topper duty.

I should get back to writing, I've got a few thousand words to catch up on after yesterday's disaster. I only managed 1 000 words yesterday as actual work needed my attention. Them's the breaks. I still reckon I have it very good here at this low-paying, low-expectation job of mine.

Have a fantastic Wednesday, everyone. I know I will. I'm still giggling.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm Ridiculous

After the very slow, often interrupted start that marked my return to The Great Man series yesterday, I suddenly turned into the writing equivalent of Robocop. I couldn't be stopped.

I was thinking that it might take some time for me to get my head out of the world of The Seraphimé Saga and back into Julian's very messy world. Apparently not. Before lunch I had written 1 000 words. Thinking that an achievement I was quite satisfied to leave it at that.

I guess my muse had other ideas. At roughly three o'clock I had clocked in my 3 000th word. 3 000 is my daily target for days that I'm not just starting out and have relatively few interruptions. Not satisfied with that, I turned to book one (The Third Prince) and started formatting and re-editing. In fact, I had to literally pull myself away from the computer in order to get to training on time!


I was so productive yesterday, I make myself ill.

I only hope I can keep it up until The Great Man series is all written out properly! Wish me luck! On that note, I must get to work. Have a lovely Tuesday everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back to Work

It is with some apprehension that I return to writing after what feels like a lifetime of editing. I did have one story which I had started to write. It's plot has been stashed so far in the back of my mind that I can't rightly recall it. I will have to read over what I've written to bring it back to the fore.

Most pressing, however, is the completion of my re-vamped The Great Man series. I was considering it this weekend, and I may have six books now, instead of the planned five. However, that depends entirely of my re-write of Overlord. If I break the 200 000 word mark, which I just might, as there is stuff that needs exploring, then I'll have to break that book into two separate books - The Hunter of the Chalice and Overlord. We'll see.

As it stands now, I am returning to the reworking of Overlord.

I wonder if, having concentrated on The Osprey and the Crow for so long, I will have forgotten The Great Man. I'm sure it'll all come back to me. It always seems to.

Right, enough procrastinating. Off I go to dive into months of depression. It's not my fault. Julian's story is a sad one, and it affects me. Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Friday!

Good morning everyone!

I trust you are all well. I am finally recovering from whatever virus knocked me on my butt all week. I'm not happy about all the training I've missed. In any case, I feel much better this morning. I have more energy and I can finally walk a block without erupting into the world's most painful coughing fit ever.

Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration. It did feel like my lungs were coated with lava, however.

Also improving my mood this morning was the sight of snow. It makes a lovely change from miserable rain. Also, it's December. It ought to be snowing!

I'm also in a good mood because people are actually voting for me in my quest to be sent to the North Pole. THE NORTH POLE! What an exciting adventure that would be! If you haven't already voted, you can click the CLICK HERE 'button' at the very top of the blog. Clicking the CLICK HERE will take you directly to my entry. If you are almost blind and can't find the CLICK HERE at the top of the blog, or you can't be bothered to scroll up and click the CLICK HERE, then CLICK HERE instead.

Perhaps I've overstated it.

I'm off to my father's new flat this weekend. Do take care and I'll write again Monday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Send Me to the North Pole!

Good morning everyone!

My most excellent mother sent me an email late yesterday afternoon. It was a competition to be the professional blogger aboard the ship 50 Years of Victory, as she makes her way to the North Pole. I entered. Apparently, I'm not content with just one competition.

If I win, I'll be off on an adventure to the North Pole! Can anyone say "adventure"?


Here's the problem. I have to be one of five people short-listed. That means, I need votes to get there.

So, dear readers, wherever you are in the world, I am asking for your help.

CLICK HERE and vote for my entry. The more votes I get, the more likely I am to be one of five short-listed. While this is no guarantee of victory, it at least gives me a fighting chance.

So tell your friends. It doesn't matter if they don't know me from a hole in the wall. Tell them to tell their friends, their friends, and their friends and so on. Get your families involved. Yell at random people on the street. I don't mind in the least!

The more votes I get, the closer I am to adventure.

Help me get to the North Pole!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Much Needed Rest

SQUEE! It's in! It's in! It's in! It's in!

Yesterday afternoon at some time past three o'clock, I finally submitted my entry for The Terry Pratchett Prize. Squee! For those who haven't been reading up on my antics, the book I chose to enter was The Osprey and the Crow, book one of The Seraphimé Saga. I'm not seriously entertaining the idea that I'm going to win (but wouldn't that be incredible?), as I'm certain the competition out there is tough, and there will be many well-written books that do not have the physical impossibility of shape-shifting.

That said, I think my story is pretty good, and I worked so hard on trying to make the best that I can. In retrospect, it was a really enlightening experience.

I now know how to format a manuscript properly. I can spot many of my writing errors. I'm a much stronger self-editor now.

I still don't like editing.

I am most impressed that I managed to get it in right on time, according to my self-set (albeit second) deadline. You couldn't see it, but I just gave myself a high-five. It looked rather odd, so I'm glad you didn't see it.

I'm celebrating my achievement by giving myself the right to goof off for the rest of the week. I need to rest and recharge my batteries. I need to uncross my eyes (darn editing!) and stretch out my fingers. I need to get my imagination off Seraphimé's world so I can concentrate on other worlds.

I do have a project lined up. I need to finish rearranging The Great Man series. I'm currently halfway through rewriting the ending of book 3 (Overlord). Once that is done, I have to make a start on the new book 4 (Puppet Master) and fix up book 5 (The Great Man - which was previously the fourth book, and had a different title).

The Great Man series is still my favourite. Of all the books I've written and plan to write, Julian's story still pulls at me the most. I can't wait until I see this story in print. If you want all the titles in The Great Man series, the working titles are thus:

Book 1 - The Third Prince
Book 2 - Lord of Horses
Book 3 - Overlord
Book 4 - Puppet Master
Book 5 - The Great Man

All but book 4 are more or less written. Inserting an entire book has disrupted the final three books in a fairly major fashion. However, the first two books haven't changed much at all. I just need to apply the things I've learnt with The Terry Pratchett Prize entry to them before I think of shopping this series around again. Even then, I think I might concentrate on The Seraphimé Saga or some of the stories which are starting to bud in my head before I shop The Great Man series again.

It's a great series, though I think I did it a disservice by trying to shop it before it was properly ready. That is to say, before I had any idea about formatting etc. I won't be in a hurry to shop it around once all of that is fixed up.

It just goes to show, you need to do your research. Learn from my mistakes! I was very fortunate that I had help from a published author who showed me the correct way to do these things. Thanks again, Carlos, by the by.

Well, this was a very long post to simply say that I'm goofing off this week! I should leave you alone and let you get back to your lives. Have a wonderful Wednesday!