Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wrapping Up an All-Round Awesome Week

Awesome #1
I was interviewed as my prize for winning the First Crusader Challenge.

Awesome #2
I was chosen as a semi-finalist in Brenda's Never-Ending Scene blogfest.

Awesome #3
I won the Never-Ending Scene blogfest!! THANKS again for all your votes!

Awesome #4
I finally reached 100 followers. THANK YOU everyone for following me!

Awesome #5
I was awarded the Happy 101 award by Talei Loto. Thanks, Talei!

Awesome #6
I was awarded the Cherry On Top award by J.C. Martin. Thanks, J.C.!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crusader Challenge #2

You may not know this about me, but
I jumped off a cliff once! Well, technically it was called gorge swinging. And it. was. TERRIFYING!

That's it over there --------->

The Zambezi Swing. The exact one I did! Backwards like that! (That's not me though. That's a guy. I'm not a guy.)

You may not know this about me, but I have a tongue piercing. Yup. This sensible, introverted girl decided it was a good idea to get a piece of metal shoved through her tongue. And when I became a teacher and opened my mouth to shout at my naughty class for the first time, all I got in response was looks of wonder and, "Ooh, you have a tongue ring? You're so kewl!"

You may not know this about me, but I have a tattoo. Mmm hmm. Another sensible move on my part. Sensible because it's NOT a skull/skeleton/umbrella/some other gross or random picture. Sensible because it's NOT somewhere on my stomch where it will swell up one day when I have a baby. (Um... seriously hope I don't wind up with fat ankles one day!)

You may not know this about me, but I love Wikipedia-ing things. For example, once I figured out that kartoffelpuffer was NOT a completely ridiculous and imaginary word made up by the fabulous Rachael Harrie, Wikipedia informed me that kartoffelpuffer = a shallow-fried pancake of grated potato, flour and egg.
Thanks, Wikipedia!


This post was written as part of Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Crusade (so you can blame her for the words skeleton, umbrella and kartoffelpuffer!). Go check it out if you want to know more about why we write awesomely random things!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cinderella's Shoe Blogfest

Madeleine of Scribble and Edit is hosting the Cinderella's Shoe Blogfest.

The Challenge: Write a 500 word piece about any character who loses an item that, when found by another, results in their mutual happiness / relief / salvation / whatever.

I introduced Serena and the Hunk (whose real name is Matt) in a previous post for the At First Sight Blogfest.


Serena stomped out of the empty lecture theatre in a frustrated huff. Where could it be? She'd been too tired to write in it last night, so she'd tossed it into her bag this morning so she'd have something useful to do during Chemistry. And she was so sure she'd slipped it back into her bag when the lecture ended...

Blasted diary. She cringed at the thought of who might have picked it up. Her most recent entry wasn't so bad, just ranting about the phone call she'd had with her bossy, I'm-so-perfect sister last night. But if someone turned a few pages back...

Matt. That's what they'd see. Matt, Matt, Matt and everything she really felt but refused to admit in real life. She couldn't handle his possessive ex-girlfriend, she'd told people. His attitude was just too smug and arrogant, she'd complained. And he really wasn't that good-looking, she'd argued with Kathrine.

What she'd felt, however, was a different story.

She climbed the stairs to her res room, hoping desperately that the diary had just fallen out of her bag and behind the bed. She unlocked her door and kicked it open, just to vent some more frustration. She looked up, and felt her stomach plummet straight through her feet, down three stories, and hit the ground far below.

There, lounging casually on her windowsill, her diary open in his hands, was Matt.

"Did you know you dropped something outside Chem this morning?" he asked innocently. "And you really should get your res warden to look into some increased security for this place. It's quite worrying how easy it is for someone to just climb--"

"Matt!" she shouted, stamping her foot for emphasis. She threw her keys onto the bed and snatched the diary out of his hands. "Well," she said hotly, trying to push aside her complete mortification, "I hope you found yourself suitably entertained."

He shrugged. "Enlightened is more like it."

She wanted to whack him over the head with the diary. Whack that easy smile right off his face.

She started to turn but he grabbed her wrist before she could move away. "I wish you were as honest with me as you are with your diary," he said, all trace of amusement now gone from his face. "All this time I thought... I thought you hated me."

His thumb moved gently against the inside of her wrist and the intensity in his eyes left warmth curling pleasantly in her stomach. And as he stepped closer she thought to herself that perhaps, just perhaps, it wasn't all that bad that he'd found the diary.


There's still time for you to enter, if you want! And you'll find the other entries here.
Thanks, Madeleine!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yippee! Semi-Finalists for Never-Ending Blogfest

I'm a semi-finalist!
(Can you sense my excitement?)

Over the past two days Brenda hosted the Never-Ending Scene (Cliffhanger) Blogfest at her blog, Brenda Drake Writes... And the list of semi-finalists is up! There were 57 entries and 10 finalists have been chosen. You can click here to see who the other semi-finalists are and to cast your vote. Click here to read my entry, if you haven't done so already.
Voting is only open for 24 hours!

Oh yeah, and anyone who's part of the Writers' Platform-Building Crusade, you'll see that we have THREE crusaders on the semi-finalist list! Rachael, Marieke and myself. Woo hoo! Go crusaders!

Crusader Challenge Prize - My First Interview!

Remember the nonsense poem that ended with a Bang!? The one I wrote as part of the first Crusader Challenge for Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Crusade?

Well... I won that challenge!! And the prize was an Aspiring Author interview.

You should really go see it! Then when I'm super cool and famous one day you can say YOU were there for the first interview!
(Come on, stop laughing, a girl can dream, right?!)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Never-Ending Scene (Cliffhanger) Blogfest

Thank you, Brenda of Brenda Drake Writes... for hosting the Never-ending Scene Blogfest (or cliffhanger - whatever). Should be fun to read what everyone comes up with!

The Challenge: Write a new scene or post a scene from your current project that is no more than 500 words, which has a rocking cliffhanger (pun intended). It can be any genre. Just leave us hanging, craving more, and cursing your name for making us want to turn a page that isn't there.

Setting the scene: Kera was being taken through the forest against her will. She has escaped from that person and since bumped into someone who assures her he can show her how to get back home - Seth.

  She stumbled as her foot caught on a large root sticking out of the ground. Seth’s hands shot out to catch her before she could fall.

  “Thanks,” she said. “I’m clumsy at the best of times, and right now…” She didn’t finish, distracted by the way his hand trailed down her arm as he let go of it. She shivered slightly. “Uh… well, exhaustion isn’t helping,” she finished, hoping he couldn’t hear the uneven gallop of her heart.

  “How do you know your way through this place anyway?” she went on. “Everything out here looks the same to me.”

  “Don’t worry,” he said reassuringly. “I’ve roamed this forest for years; I know exactly where everything is, even in the dark.”

  As he spoke she noticed the night becoming blacker around them. She looked up to see the stars disappearing one by one, erased by a blanket of cloud being pulled across the sky. She drew her jacket a little closer.

  “Hey, what’s this?” she asked in surprise. They had suddenly come upon a clearing in the trees filled with what looked like ruins.

  “Oh, this is what’s left of Mythonene’s castle.”

  “Really?” She looked back at Seth to see if he was joking. “But he lived here centuries ago. I didn’t know anything was left of it.”

  “Well, there isn’t much left really.”

  Seth was right. It was mostly just an outer wall, crumbling in many places, with a few of the inner walls left standing. Long grass grew in patches where the once-tiled floor had given way to the penetrating fingers of the forest.

  Kera walked slowly through the ruins, trailing her hand along the cold, moss-covered stone.

  “It can’t have been a very big castle,” she noted.

  “I think much of it was invisible. After all, he was a master of Dark Magic.”

  “Invisible?” Now that part she certainly hadn’t heard.

  She stopped and leaned against a wall. There was something different about this place. It was alluring in its mystery, and yet something tugged at her heart, urging her to run and never look back. She could feel a lurking presence, as if the Dark Magic once used here had left scars in the air.

  She shivered, glad to feel Seth’s warmth as he leaned against the wall next to her.

  “I’ll be happy to see the suns again,” she whispered.

  “Oh.” He frowned. “I suppose I should apologise then.”

  “Why?” she asked, confused.

  In a movement as fast as lightning his hand was tight around her throat, and his eyes, blue a moment ago, were glowing a fiery red that pierced through the darkness.
“Because you’re never going to see the light of day again.”


Ta daa! Hope that's cliffhangery enough.
You should go read the others. They'll leave you wanting more!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Parcel in the Post - 2 Awesome Books + 1 Gift

A few weeks ago I read a great review of the Parasol Protectorate series - of which SOULLESS is number one - by Faith. It sounded like something I'd enjoy so I clicked over to my online book shop and ordered it right away.

Two days ago the series was also reviewed by Paperback Dolls. So now I'm even more keen to read it!

I've seen quite a bit of online buzz recently about the Caster Chronicles because of the release of BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS, the second in the series. So, I figured it was time to find out what all the fuss is about! Enter: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
And even if it doesn't turn out to be so great, the cover is gorgeous! It's gonna look super on my book shelf ;-)

And, thirdly, Jenn recently held a little competition during her Dystopian Book-Talking Birthday Bash on her blog, and I won!! I got to choose between five different dystopian titles, and since I've heard a lot about THE GIVER recently (and never read it *shock*), I picked that one.

Jenn, in case you can't see the sticky note so well, it says:
Thank you, Jenn!

~ ~ ~

On a completely unrelated topic...
Sometime in the past day or two my blog's all-time number of page-views passed 1000! Yay!
(Okay, those of you who passed this number some time ago, please stop snickering. I am in my happy place, and I like it here)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cherry on Top Award

1. Gratitude

Thank you ever so much to Writer's Block NZ for giving me the Cherry on Top Award :-)

2. Question: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?

Nope. I've made some really big and scary decisions in my time, but every single one has led me to where I am now. And where I am now is exactly where I'm meant to be :-)

3. Passing on the Award

Go visit the lovely blogs!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Which Team Are You?

Whenever there's a love triangle (and they seem to popping up a lot in YA fiction) people like to choose their favourite love interest. Some examples...

1. Twilight: Edward vs Jacob
I'm not that into Twilight anymore, but I'd pick Jacob. That best mirrors the choice I made in real life :-)

2. The Vampire Diaries: Stefan vs Damon
Damon, of course! He's the bad boy, I know, the very bad boy, but when you start to see the caring side of him... And just look at him!

3. The Mortal Instruments: Jace vs Simon
Team Jace all the way! If you haven't read these books, go read! Now!

 4. The Infernal Devices: Will vs Jem
I have yet to get my hands on Clockwork Angel so I haven't picked my team yet...
(Two weeks after ordering this my online provider of books informed me that their supplier does not have stock. How dare they not have stock? Unacceptable!!)

5. Paranormalcy: Lend vs Reth
Seriously. Who would pick a psychotic faerie? I'm with Lend!

One reason for all the love triangles in YA fiction is that the main characters are young and still figuring out what kind of people they are. Hence, they're also still figuring out what type of guy/girl they should be with. So their journeys of self-discovery are often mirrored by their journeys with the different love interests, until they reach a point where they know themselves well enough to know which guy/girl to choose.

And, of course, there's the immediate conflict created by having more than one love interest :-)

Hmm, a thought: Am I correct in saying that there are far more 1 girl + 2 guys triangles than there are 1 guy + 2 girls triangles?

Wanna tell me which teams you're on?!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stop, Drop and Read!

Read anywhere, any time!
My school is celebrating its own Literacy Month this month, and everyone's been challenged to just stop what they're doing and read for at least ten minutes every day. Of course, for me, that isn't hard... But it's been GREAT seeing everyone else reading too!

The students get started with their reading challenge during assembly...

The staff get reading too!

And of course the students read when they should be doing maths...
(And I hate having to tell them to put their novels away, 
because it makes me so happy to see them reading!)

You know that Black Eyed Peas song, I GOTTA FEELING? Well, have you heard the Ocoee Middle School version GOTTA KEEP READING? I know, I know, you're gonna be thinking corny as soon as you hear it, but I couldn't stop smiling the whole way through :-) Below is a little clip of our girls singing it...

If you work at a school, have you done something like this before? 
A read-a-thon, perhaps?

All credit goes to the Black Eyed Peas for the original song I GOTTA FEELING and to Ocoee Middle School (I think, I mean their name is on the video on YouTube!) for the words of GOTTA KEEP READING. If you'd like to see Ocoee Middle School performing their song, click here. It's awesome!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sweet Friends Award

A) A big thank you to Quinn from seeing, dreaming... writing for giving me a Sweet Friends Award :-) Okay, I think it's actually called the Happy 101 Award, but what does that even mean? (If you know, please tell me!) I prefer Sweet Friends :-)

 B) Now to list 10 things that I love...

1. Sleeping - I take my sleeping very seriously.
2. Making music - piano, flute... plus a few other instruments I've experimented with over the years.
3. Pyjamas - I'd wear them all the time if it was socially acceptable.
4. Sushi - Oh. My. Gosh. AMAZING!
5. Tech-minded boyfriend - goes without saying, right?
6. Hot baths in winter - it's relaxing just thinking about it...
7. Chocolate - no list of loves would be complete without it!
8. Maths - come on, I teach it, it would be sad if I didn't love it.
9. Lentils - you think I'm weird? That's okay :-)
10. Jeans - the staple of my wardrobe (since I can't wear pj's all the time!).

C) And now to send the award on to up to six other people. And if you've already been given this award before, well then... lucky you, because I'm happy to give it to you again :-) And don't call me lazy for giving the award right back to Quinn! He was my first blogging buddy, after all :-)

1. Quinn @ seeing, dreaming... writing
2. Rachael @ Rach Writes...
3. Marieke @ Marieke's Musings
4. Tessa @ The Quest for a Literary Agent
5. Erica and Christy @ erica and christy

Erica and Christy are two separate people, okay! (anyone who was about to point out that I only listed five... He he he)

Now go check out their blogs. These people are awesome!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twitter Tweeter!

I have finally joined the twitterverse! Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a little late, but it's better than never, right?

So now I get to have a cute little

Follow RachelMorgan13 on Twitter

on my sidebar just like everyone else :-)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Hook, Line and Sinker Blogfest

Justin at In My Write Mind is hosting the Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest. 
Thanks, Justin!

Post a 1000 word sample of your hook. 
Preferably, chop it right out from the opening of your manuscript.

I decided to go easy on your wary eyes (which you'll need to save to read the rest of the participants' entries! Find a list at the bottom of this post) and so I've posted significantly fewer than 1000 words. 326 to be exact!

I hope this beginning actually qualifies as a hook... 
I have just one question for you at the end of this:

Would you want to read more?


  I am dreaming again of the night my sister died.

  It is evening and the First Sun has already slipped below the horizon. The Second Sun, blazing slightly smaller, is following close behind. It will be dark soon.

  I know that Cecily is in the forest and that she should have been home by now. Why did she go in there without me? I am twelve and old enough to look after us both.

  In an instant I am running toward the forest because I know that something is wrong. I have been here before and I know how it must end. But perhaps this time it will be different. Perhaps this time I will reach her before it is too late.

I rush through the trees, stumbling over roots and fallen branches. I try to push myself harder but my legs feel weighted down with sand. I know what I will hear soon and I dread it.

  My legs grow tired and my chest aches, but still I try to push harder. I know exactly where I am going; I have run this path many times now.
Then I hear it, that scream that freezes the blood in my veins, and I know I am too late again.

  I sprint as fast as I can, gasping for air, my throat burning. I reach the clearing and drop down breathless beside her small, broken body. Her dark hair is matted with blood and her unseeing green eyes blink wildly several times before becoming still forever. 

  I move away from her and stand up; tears cast a haze across my vision.

  When it happened in real life I clung to her lifeless body, sobbing, until Gran found us like that. But now, in my dreams, I look around me. I look to see what happened, to find some clue of who did this, a figure running away through the trees perhaps.

  But I am always too late.


Don't forget to check out the other entries!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Crusader Challenge #1

I sat down to write the other day (tonight, in fact) and the electricity went out. Seriously. I am blogging by candlelight! To top it off, the internet has been down all day... I thought I was going to miss posting this crusade entry, however...

cell phone + data bundle + blue tooth + laptop with battery
+ tech-minded boyfriend = temporary internet access!

So. I sat down to write—right now—and nonsense spewed forth from my normally sane fingertips...

Sweets and Mars
and spun glass jars,
quidditch games
and glitter stars.
Jelly beans
and kings and queens,
rubber ducks
and silver dreams.
Elephant tails
and ghostly wails,
fairy dust
and tasty snails.
Candy canes
And bright blue flames,
little men
with golden manes.

I wasn’t sure how to end it. Bang! seemed like a good option :-)

This post of nonsense was inspired by Rachael Harrie’s first Crusader Challenge. Click on over to this post to find out more about the Writers’ Online Platform-Building Crusade. You too could be a part of it!

So let’s just review...

1. Wrote a post beginning with “I sat down to write the other day and...” – check!
2. Included the random words, Mars, quidditch and elephant – check!
3. Link back to the original post – check!
4. Following ALL my fellow crusaders – check!
5. Put a blogroll of the crusaders’ blogs on my blog – check!

Looks like I’m all done! So, from the (literally) darkest tip of Africa, I bid you good night :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

At First Sight Blogfest

Jacee Drake is hosting her first ever blogfest, the At First Sight Blogfest.
Thank you, Jacee!
Pop over to this post to see a list of the other participants.

Serena pushed the heavy door open and smiled guiltily as all heads turned in her direction. She hurried toward the nearest empty seat and dropped into it, keeping her head down.

How embarrassing. Day one of the new semester and she was already late. She peeked up through her lashes; everyone seemed engaged in the lecture once more. Her eyes roved around the U-shape of desks. There were several faces she recognised: that girl from Chemistry, that Asian guy who never spoke to anyone, and--

Hello! Who was that? Her eyes stopped abruptly on the tan-skinned, strong-jawed, green-eyed hunk she'd definitely never seen in any lecture room before.

His eyes snapped to hers as though he'd felt her gaze, and she blinked and looked away. What class was this again? She didn't recognise anything on the screen...

She couldn't help it. Her eyes moved slowly back to the Hunk. He wasn't looking at her anymore. Not exactly. He was looking at... her legs? She shifted uncomfortably, trying to remember when she'd last shaved.

He met her eyes, pointed subtly at her legs, and gave her a thumbs up, mouthing, Nice!

How rude! she thought, hoping the expression on her face told him exactly what she now thought of him.

His smile faltered; then realisation spread across his features. He shook his head slightly and reached down to tap his ankle.

The tattoo! she remembered, blushing at how silly she'd been to think he was referring to her legs as nice. She smiled at him in what she hoped was a flirtatious manner. Thanks, she mouthed.

He picked up a pen, glanced toward the front, and began to write. So that was it? Silent conversation over? She turned back to the lecturer who was pacing back and forth, pointing excitedly at the screen.

Something hit her hand and she started. A paper airplane. She looked up at the Hunk and saw him grinning widely at her.

Her fingers fumbled to pull the airplane apart. Do you always like to make an entrance? it said, in lazy handwriting that she was already in love with.

With her heart beating somewhat faster than normal, she wrote, If it'll get your attention, I can be late every time. That was daring. Maybe too daring? No. One needed to be daring once in a while.

She folded it up and shot it back across the U, earning herself several irritated looks from fellow students. The Hunk opened it, and she watched with a pounding heart as a smile spread across his lips.

She jumped as the door banged shut behind her. A slim figure with sleek auburn hair hurried around the U-shape and slid gracefully into the empty chair beside the Hunk.

"Sorry I'm late," she giggled, planting a kiss on the Hunk's cheek and laying a hand possessively over his.

His jaw tightened. His free hand wrapped around what was left of the paper airplane and tightened into a fist, crumpling the silent conversation into a small, invisible ball.


Okay, so that was technically 5 words over the limit, but if I'm disqualified that's okay. I don't do these things to win anything... I do them because it's FUN TO WRITE!! Thanks again, Jacee :-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Rock My World

You know? Lots of flashing light and pouring rain and house shuddering booms.

When I was little we used to get lots of storms here in summer. Like, LOTS. We'd suffer through the sweltering, sticky, suffocating heat at school, then get home to have a "compulsory swim" (my mom invented those), then suffer some more while doing homework (though not quite as much, because wet-hair-dripping-down-back kinda cools you off a bit). 

And then finally, FINALLY, as evening came on, clouds would gather and everything would get that strange kind of bright-but-not-bright-green-pink-almost-luminous look about it (I'm sorry, I know I'm a writer but I just can't describe that. You have to know what I'm talking about!). And fat raindrops would squeeze themselves out of the clouds and plop down, sizzling, onto the still-hot concrete around the pool, and then SUDDENLY the heavens would just tear open and torrential rain would pour down, finally giving us the RELIEF we'd craved all day (plus the excitement of the house-shuddering booms!).

We don't really get storms much anymore. Not like we used to. (Jeepers, I sound like an old lady! "When I was a little girl..."!!)

We had a storm last night. You might have guessed.

Credit - first photo
Credit - second photo

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Shelves and Book Questions

Have you succumbed to the world of e-readers, storing your neatly organised bookshelves all inside one slim, attractive electronic device? Or do you, like me, still crave the feeling of holding a real book in your hands, turning real pages, and smelling real paper?

If you're like me...

Important Book Question #1
Where do you keep all these books, and how do you arrange them?
Because storage can become a serious problem! Every now and then I have to shunt a boxload of books off the shelf and into the storeroom outside...

When I was little I arranged my books by height. That was a little weird. Now that I'm slightly less weird I arrange my books by Importance. Books I read less often get moved higher (where I have to stand on a chair to reach them), and my favourite favourites remain at eye level :-)

Important Book Question #2
Do you use a bookmark or bend over the corner of the page?
Personally, I would chop off my own finger before bending the corner of page. Okay, perhaps that's a little severe... But seriously! Bending the page is like some kind of book sin! 

Important Book Question #3
Do you ever eat while reading?
Come on. CHOCOLATE + BOOKS. What could be better?!


Okay, so perhaps they're not important questions, but I'd like to hear your answers nonetheless :-)