Monday, December 17, 2007

Family time of year

One of my brother's lovely shots

Hello, to all my friends in cyberspace. I hope this festive season isn't causing too much stress for you.
My brother has returned home, my 50th birthday party was held on Saturday night (it was a hoot) and just when I thought life would settle down before the Christmas day food binge, more changes are in the air.
My son and his fiance and three little ones under four, are moving in indefinitely. My other son and his wife are already here for three months and my daughter and her hubby come regularly for weekends and holidays. Just as well the renovating is almost finished!
As family is number one in my life, I shall be putting all other priorities after them. So writing and critiquing will have to take a back seat for a while. Maybe my TBR pile of books will get some attention, as a good read is easier to fit into smaller time frames than using my own brain!!
Just in case I don't get another chance, I would like to wish you all God's grace and peace during this special time of year. May His blessings and prosperity reign over you through the new year and I pray you find the reason for the season.
Bless you heaps, Annie

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday mode, learning new things

Hi all,
Here is a beautiful shot of our favorite place where we live.
I am in holiday mode at the moment. My brother is visiting and we are doing the 'tourist thing'. The main past-time is photography as he has just purchased a new camera and having lots of fun figuring out the settings.
It reminds me of when I started writing. I knew all the basics, so I thought, but when I started learning more, I realized just how much I didn't know in the beginning. Whatever new avenues we open ourselves up for in life, there is always more to learn.
My dear friend who passed away this year said, gaining new knowledge is never wasted. How true this is.
It doesn't matter how old we are, we should always endeavor to learn new things, discover new places, plunge into new adventures, and let's not forget to make new friends in the process. Being outward focused, not inward centered will lead to an exciting year ahead.
Regards Annie

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My life from A to Z

My online friend Patricia did this on her blog so I am copying the idea. I have changed some things coz I am not into them or don't know what they are, here down under!!

Click on my title to go to Patricia's blog entry

A - Age: 50 (soon)

B - Best Friend: Colleen & Vicki

C - Choice of Meat: Beef, rump

D - Dream Date: Hubby & I had an amazing 6 week date in 06. Every day was like a dream date. From the intimate dinner watching the lights of the Colosseum illuminate at night, to Venice (no place like it for romantic atmosphere) to the Eiffel Tower laser light show in his arms while standing over the river Seine, to crowded Irish pubs. I could rave forever, and probably will!!!!

E - Exciting Adventure: Apart from the above trip of a lifetime, I’d have to say for adventure it was climbing the
Sydney Harbour Bridge.

F - Favorite Food: I love chicken curry and smoked salmon, when I dine out, I usually order one of those two. If I am on a diet which is most of the time, then its Greek salad.

G - Greatest Accomplishment: Starting university at 44 years of age. Finishing with a double major.

H - Happiest Day of Your Life: My wedding day, but there is always something special about watching your children commit their lives to their life-partners too.

I - Interests:
Reading and writing, photography, surfing the net (on it you can travel anywhere in the universe, that's pretty cool.

J - Joke: That would be me, the joker!!

K – Koalas or Kittens: I’m allergic to cats, so I would have to say Koalas.

L - Love: John 3 16 or in the words of a song lyric, ‘what the world needs now, is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of’

M - Most Valued Possession: My wedding ring. After 25 years of marriage I had my wedding and engagement rings remodelled. It is gorgeous. Always was, still is.

N - Name: Ann but my girlfriends call me Annie, so I write as Annie because I would like all my readers to think of me as a girlfriend (the female ones anyway)

O - Outfit You Love: I love longer line Tshirts to wear around the house, or sleep in but don’t have one ATM because I don’t like them saggy baggy with big sleeves either. Hard to come by.

P - Pizza Toppings: Garlic and olive supreme

Q - Question Asked To You the Most: Have you got a job yet?

R – Results or relationships: I like to see results for my efforts, but on the whole I am a relationships person. Life is full of them.

S - Sport: Australian rugby league football, watching not playing LOL

T - Television Show: Other than the footie telecasts, Enough Rope with Andrew Denton

U - Umbrella in the rain?: It doesn’t rain much where I live. Just enough for it to be lush but not overdone!! So gotta say on the whole – nope.

V - Video: How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Serendipity, and an older one Shining Through, oh and The Thomas Crown Affair with Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan. AND All romances, old or latest releases!!!

W - Winter: It is lovely here in winter, only crisp days (not too cold) and often beautiful clear blue skies. This is the winter haven for Aussies to holiday!

X - X-rays recently?: No. Though I did have a brain scan once, and yes I do have one!!!

Y - Year Born: 1957

Z – Zoo animal: chimpanzee, coz he’s always funny and he’s always doing something

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tautologies and RAS syndrome

Are we afflicted with RAS? What is it you may well ask?

RAS syndrome is, as Wikipedia explains, a repetition of one of the words making up an acronym. The most common uses are ATM machine, HIV virus and PIN number.

Wikipedia says the Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome, “is itself a humorous example of a redundant acronym”.

Which brings me to tautologies. For those who don’t know what a rhetorical tautology is, let’s ask Wikipedia again. It says it is the unnecessary and often unintentional repetitive use of words or meanings that, in effect, mean exactly the same thing. Exactly is the same. So, I need only have written their meaning is exact or their meaning is the same. To use both was a redundant use of words. A free gift, is another example. Though sometimes it is written to emphasize that the gift has no expectations with it, as opposed to say, a gift with purchase.

As I see this happening in many of the critiques I’m doing at the moment, I thought I would write about it here. Forgive me, crit partners, but I will mention a few, to give you an idea of how easily they can sneak in to our manuscripts.

He hesitated answering a moment.

I sucked it up, taking a deep breath.

At a loss for words, I said nothing.

Do you have any questions, class?

LOL Annie

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Recorders of Paradigm Shifts

Emma Darcy wrote "Romance itself never changes...passions are eternal. The value systems that give rise to conflicts do change."
Without conflict in a novel, it would be a very boring read and, I imagine, the reader would put it down before finishing it. As value systems change, and they are changing at an amazing rate, there is opportunity to grasp the conflicts created therein.
As writers/authors it might not be a bad idea to be on the alert to these changing value systems, or as we call them now, paradigm shifts, and include them in our plots. Emma Darcy says the change in value systems in modern times are recorded in category romance fiction. Now, there's a thought. We are recorders of modern paradigm shifts!
But there is a warning here too. Emma says that we should move and adjust our writing to these changes in order to stay modern. Aah, the challenges of being a contemporary writer.
I would be interested to hear what you think on this topic.
Regards Annie

Monday, November 26, 2007

Where I Live

I am not getting much work done on this manuscript of mine. It seems I have some flaws needing my urgent attention. One of the pitfalls of being a 'new' writer is this first manuscript is suffering multiple edit syndrome! Poor thing. Hope it isn't fatal!

Wanted to share this photo I took yesterday afternoon, during one of our strolls to check out the beach and sunset. Oh, no sunset? Okay, here it is...

My, but we do love living where we do!
Regards Annie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Imagination and story concepts

There has been some chat on other sites about where story ideas come from. While many of us get an inspiration, as I’ve spoken about before, what happens if it just doesn’t come.

I would like to share with you how I came to write my newly completed manuscript.

I had stored a copy, on computer, of a newspaper article about an accident in a rugged part of the Australian landscape. It was an interesting topic, might be developed later. It involved a group of 20 yr-olds out seeking adventure. When I came to write a story, I thought, surely in this group of young people there could have been a love interest. It all developed from there. The news article spurred research into similar accidents. The activity, accident, and outcomes all changed by the time I wrote my story. The setting for the heroine was actually a component of one of my uni courses. A PR hospitality business and publicity plan. I had already developed the concept, of the B&B idea for that purpose, so changed it slightly for some of the settings in my story. A friend of mine has hair like my heroine, some life experiences fill in gaps. It all helps.

The old ‘what if’ scenario comes into play for me a lot. What if this happened, what if he reacted like this… and so it goes on. There are no limits with fiction. The only limit is our imagination. And like Anna Jacobs says “I think the imagination is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it grows - and the more ideas it throws out.”

So go ahead people, use it.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Emotions, set the pace

I listened to an audio this week from published author, Cher Gorman who said, 'The key to great pacing, in whatever genre, is the emotional component.' She said if there is something emotionally important in the scene, it moves the story quicker. In all scenes with an emotional component, the story flies. I agree with her, do you?

Another quote I heard this week was from John Mayer during one of his concerts. He was talking about blues and whether you get that blues music stirs you. He said 'if you are human, you get it'. Does he mean, blues music has an emotional component? Well, I think all music does to a certain degree, but yes, I do agree that blues stirs the emotional component within me.

During the Gorman audio, even though I am not into her erotic category within the romance genre, I received insight about engaging the senses and even more so, that emotions will invoke a response from the reader. Hopefully, when masterfully written, readers will say 'I get it'. It is that age old saying in writers circles of showing not telling. And if shown correctly, the emotions and senses are used to portray what the author feels for their characters.

I'd be interested to hear from you...Regards Annie

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cricket and Romance: Are there similarities or not?

If you cannot think how it is possible that cricket and romance can have a connection I suggest you check out Romance Bandit's blog. To go there (after you finish reading my blog, of course) simply click on this heading - Cricket and Romance to take you to Romance Bandit's blog. It
s a very interesting entry by Anna Campbell and Keira.
I've left a comment, so why don't you go check it out and leave a comment too. Besides having your say, you could also win a prize.
Regards Annie

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I am interested to know how and when you have that 'penny has dropped' inspiring moment for a story scene, plot or even a particular character who may turn out to be pivotal in your next manuscript.
I often find when I first wake in the morning I have clarity for ideas. Often one will just dominate all others. Sometimes a section of the plot will make sense when discussing it with a peer. At other times it takes a lot of research before the next page can be turned.
What does it for you? Music, your favorite 'serenity spot' or just head down and research, research. Or like one of my writing friends, do those characters live so much in your head that they speak to you until you let them out?
Let me know
Regards Annie

Friday, November 2, 2007

One of my favorite spots on the planet. Moon rise on the beach. I took this photo about a year ago. Hope you like it. Regards Annie

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Editing within an inch of its life

At the moment I am editing. I like what some say the result is-edited to within an inch of its life. I always chuckle when I hear that statement. But oh how true it needs to be. Fine tuning is a necessity for many facets of life. Take the accomplished musician. They tune until that instrument is perfect pitch. One slight deviation and the performance is off.
Our manuscripts should be like that. Though I am getting thoroughly sick of mine now.
Remember as a child cutting out those dolls from a sheet of paper with umpteen folds? One wrong move and the chain of dolls was broken. No more dancing dollies!! Just shattered pieces and a major reconstruction or start over to bring the desired outcome.
I seriously hope I don't cut an important chain and ruin what I started. Paranoia is setting in!!
Regards Annie

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Truth stranger than fiction

Isn't it amazing when you least expect it, up pops an idea for a novel or story. Right out of the blue! Well this discussion is about truth and fiction.
This week I heard a romance story that would make my hair curl-and that usually takes a lot. It had tension, yearning desire, forbidden love and spanned generations. It did end with a satisfactory resolution to cap it all off. What more could anyone ask for? It just happens to be a true story, and I am not into writing memoirs, yet anyway.
So can I use some elements of this true love story in my next novel? Well, I guess, as readers you will never know the truth behind the answer to that question because where does truth stop and fiction begin?
I know as one observant people-watcher, I often use an eclectic mix of people I know, those in my head and even those I see but don't know for my characters in my stories . Even settings have been jumbled or contrived from reality to accommodate the story to greatest benefit.
I'd be interested to know how others handle the mix between truth and fiction in their story-telling.
For my latest manuscript I envisioned a beautiful waterfall as part of my setting. I even knew which one I would use from my actual teenage memories. Trouble was, when I went as part of a family outing to photograph it for inspiration, it wasn't there. I don't know where I stored that memory from but the recall didn't produce accurate details. I know what I imagined I saw but couldn't find the reality.
Never mind, my imagination is more fun anyway. How's yours?

Friday, October 19, 2007


Just wanted to respond here on the main page to Suzy's question about plotting. And you knew I would have to answer that open question hah?
I like to plan my timeline with spreadsheets. One event per cell, then I can rearrange them by copy and paste etc. I often use this for a tricky scenes where I want the timing exact (well shouldn't they all) but sometimes you need to see it in black and white.
Re plotting in tables - this is where I do most of my work with plots. I start by putting in the characters and their personality/profiles interview results or important relationships next to them. Then I will do a separate one for my outline. I use this for the duration of writing my novel. I put chapters down left hand side, next column is for headline for that chapter eg Sarah intro and the POV used (in this case Sarah POV), the next column I put each main detail for that chapter on separate lines, next I have my wordcount which I add to as I proceed. In the extended details I can rearrange to suit as I feel the story changes as it sometimes does. Main thing is I put the conflict here and bold it. So I can see at a glance where my weaker chapters are. Of course also I can add or subtract a chapter's details POV by inserting columns or rows whatever. It also helps with synopsis and that dreaded fear of what do I write next. The outline give you an idea of when to say what!!!
I was interested to see Jenny Crusie's theory of sectioning novels into four with main conflict in each section. I can see this would translate nicely into the way I plot too.
I am keen to hear how others do their planning if they aren't pansters of course!
I also use a spreadsheet to keep track of my word count. I especially use this during BIAW but also for my novel. Can you tell I like it organised??
Regards Annie

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Next step

I have been trying to plot manuscript # 2 and wanted to continue with the story form my 1st manuscript. Now I am having second thoughts. It seems very time consuming and conflict constricting to use characters from a previous ms. Double mindedness! I always have trouble with it. And I also don't like to start something until I know I can finish it. So I will plot (in my head first then using tables and spreadsheets) 'till the cows come home'.
Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. Wow! It really doesn't seem that long. In the words of a friend of mine - 'that's 2 life sentences!' Well I guess that there are two lives involved. But while good times, hassles, joys, sadness, riches, poverty, sickness, health and all those things covered by the vows do occur - sometimes love prevails.
Take the time to discover it... However you can.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The challenge ahead

Many of my writing friends are challenging themselves in November with NaNoWriMo which I fully support them in their endeavors. They are putting their hands up and saying 'I am committing to this' and I would love to join them. But I am giving in to the external pressures in my life at the moment, namely, renovations.
Our entire house has been turned upside down-literally. We are ripping up floor tiles. Jackhammers, dust and noise-and an over-abundance of all. Just when I thought the dust would settle, along comes another project-sanding timber stairs and benches. Different tool, same affect-dust.
Also in November we have our son's engagement party here in our home and I am catering for this exciting event. November sees some overseas visitors coming to stay for several weeks and then my other son and his wife come for the annual 'after uni holidays'. I really hope at least some of the renovating is complete by then.
I am between manuscripts now and having finished my first I now see there is another story in there that should be written which precedes it. I have already developed the new hero and heroine character profiles so I might run with their romance. Amid all the dust, a plot is building-I hope! When I have a spare moment, I whip out my laptop and jot a few things down or research a topic I think will develop it further. Not all writing is words on a page.
So for me, my November challenge will be to have my plot plotted! If you aren't doing NaNoWriMo what are you challenging yourself to do to advance your writing?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Thanks to Eva for raising the question about the photo above. It is indeed Venice. In fact it is sunrise in all its intricate glory. I had to lighten the photo so you could see the buildings more clearly. But it does bring back wonderful memories of our visit there last year. This was, in fact, how Venice said goodbye to us. We left shortly afterwards on the early morning train headed for Salzburg. We traveled there via Villach and the six-hour trip was sensational and more than DH and I could have expected a train journey through the alps could be. Austria is beautiful. But oh, I do love Italy. And what's not to love about Venice.
The highlight for me was the gondoliers serenade as they passed by our window each evening. Naturally I figured they were singing to me not their passengers. The atmosphere-Magic!
Oh, and yes, I did get to experience my own gondola ride.
Very romantic!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Using the senses

Sparked by my critique group's monthly exercise, I recall a time at high school when we were asked to write a piece using our senses. In order to do this more successfully we had to blind-fold each other and describe what we encountered. I have never forgotten this experience. It forced me to 'look' at things in a totally different way.
One of my childhood influencers was a blind lady. She taught me to knit using two colors. Still to this day I don't know how she did it. She would say the cotton felt different. It was the same brand, same ply, same labels but she could still tell when she was using pink and not blue.
I have always thought there was a particular type of personality who likes to touch and feel. You know her. She's the lady who enters the boutique and immediately grabs to feel the material. She doesn't respond to color or patterns but will purchase on the feel of the material or how the garment makes her feel when she puts it on. (Yes I used to work in a ladies-wear boutique)
Well now I apply these types of sensory awareness situations to my writing. And yes, I am one of those touchy, feely type of people. So I guess that helps.
If you have trouble with putting the other senses to work in your writing, try the old exercise above. Blindfold yourself and spend some time listening, tasting, feeling and smelling or even sixth sensing. There is a spiritual world out there. Let's not forget about that one.
You will be amazed at those other worlds that exist.