Monday, January 31, 2011

Just for Laughs (6): Which Toilet Would You Pick?

I recently found myself quite entertained after visiting the toilets at the Protea Hotel Fire and Ice in Cape Town. Why, you ask, would I possibly be entertained by toilets? Well...

There are five toilets, each with their own label on the door:
  • long drop
  • stage fright
  • out house
  • lou rawls
  • temptation

Inside long drop you will find a construction scene surrounding a toilet made of some kind of metal:

Inside stage fright you will find mirrors and life-size pictures of an audience watching you!

Inside out house you will find wood and corrugated metal forming a nice little shed around your toilet:

Inside lou rawls you will find... well, lots and lots of loo rolls!

And inside temptation (this one's the best!) you'll find...

What's behind the towels, you might ask? Well, if you pull the towel across to find out...
there's a big light bulb covering the important bits and an alarm goes off so that everyone outside knows you had a peep!! He he ;-)

And here's another little of bit of fun. The cigar lounge, labelled the coughin room:

And if you go in and look up at the ceiling...

you're in a grave and people are looking down at you!

~ ~ ~

Hope I made you smile this Monday :-)
Now tell me: which toilet would you use?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
(Summary from Goodreads)

First line: I'd always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden.

I enjoyed this book more than I expected to :-) I thought it would be like many other paranormal romance series, where not all that much happens in the first book, and just when things are getting exciting it ends -- leaving you hanging for months and months before you can find out what happens next. Don't get me wrong, this book left me hanging all right, but SO much happened before that, and so many details were revealed along the way, that I still felt satisfied as a reader. It was like I'd enjoyed a good meal and not just an appetiser!

There's a love triangle of course, Ren the alpha wolf, and Shay the human (and I love the names -- not conventional, but not too wacky!). At first it seemed obvious to me who I wanted Calla to choose, but then it became... not so obvious. I felt as conflicted as Calla was. Imagine having your whole life planned out for you. You've always known who you'll end up with and you accepted it long ago -- and you do have feelings for that person, which helps. And then another person comes along, he's not part of the plan at all, and yet you develop feelings for him too! Tough one...

What I really liked about this book was how Andrea didn't feel the need to explain everything at the beginning. This made sense because we're seeing everything from Calla's POV, and Calla already knows everything about this supernatural world. So something would be mentioned and I, the reader, wouldn't really get it. So I'd hang on and keep reading and then some time later I'd go, Ohhhh, now I get it. I like that :-)

So I'm definitely going to be reading the next book in the series, WOLFSBANE, when it comes out in July this year, and right now I'm recommending NIGHTSHADE to you :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Photo Friday (5)

Yup, that's a Christmas tree made of wine bottles :-)
Taken at Graham Beck wine estate near Stellenbosch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Writing Tip (6): Checklists (Plus Facebook Revisited)

Writing fantasy or science fiction means that you get to make stuff up -- yay! The trouble is, my memory is never as fantastic as I think it is, and so I'll make something up, put it in the story, and then a few weeks later when I want to use it again somewhere else, I can't remember it! So then I have to scroll through pages and pages trying to remember where exactly I mentioned it (and I can't use the "Find" tool because I can't remember how to spell the word I made up, or I can't remember what the word is at all!)

Eventually I compiled a document that I labelled Fact File. I arranged everything into categories (Creatures, Humans, Places, Different Names for the Same Things That Exist in Our World, etc.) and now every time I make up something new I immediately add it to my Fact File :-)

Here's another way of being organised...

Science fiction and fantasy novelist Steven Harper, author of WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL, has created checklist worksheets to help you write your own story of the supernatural.
(Click on the image to be taken to a .pdf of each checklist)

Facebook Revisited

After reading all the comments on my Things I Never Knew About Facebook post (and doing some thinking), I came to the conclusion that it is best to have both an ACCOUNT and a PAGE.

You see, the page is cool and everything (especially if you've made it big and you have lots of fans!), but it's sort of a little bit selfish, because the page can't go and "Like" and "Friend" other people. So if you're wanting to also "give back" then you need an actual account that you can use to interact with other Facebookers.

Which is why you'll now see both of these on my sidebar :-)

If it so happens that you become awesomely famous and people are searching for you all the time on Facebook and sending friend requests to your ACCOUNT, when actually you want them to be "Liking" your PAGE because you don't have a potting clue who they all are and you don't really want to be "Friends" with all of them, then you can go to the Privacy Settings on your account and adjust them so that only people who are already your friends will be able to search and find you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

But I thought of that FIRST!

That ever happen to you? As writers I'm sure it has -- often! (Or perhaps you only ever have super-original ideas and so you've never experienced the stomach-twisting-in-intense-annoyance-and-disappointment feeling. Lucky you!)

Seriously, though, you'll be reading a book or a review and one of the following things will happen:

  • The completely unique name you spent hours coming up with and have never seen anywhere else before -- is now on the page in front of you.
  • That awesome idea you came up with last night/last month/five years ago is unfolding before your eyes -- in someone else's story.
  • The amazing title you have finally, finally hit upon for your WIP (the title everyone is going to be talking about) is advertised as being released this year -- and you're not the author.
  • The incredible cover art you've always imagined for your epic masterpiece is now gracing someone else's book -- because that someone else used mind control and pinched it from your totally awesome brain!

So what do you do then? Give up? Or ignore it and carry on? (My Twilight is totally gonna be better than her Twilight... They'll all love mine when it's finally finished...) A number of times I've seen an idea in another book that I've already written into my WIP and I get bummed, but then I think of it like this: I've used ideas here and there that are similar to ideas in other already-published stories, but when I put all those ideas together in my story, it's different.

Right now my biggest worry is this: I've finally decided on a title that I really like (and then saw that a forthcoming book has a title that's almost like an exact opposite! That was my Damn, are you serious? moment!) and now I'm just hoping that someone doesn't "pinch" my title and publish it before I do!

What about you? Have you had one of these moments? What did you do?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I Never Knew About Facebook

Right. So. For a number of years I've had a personal Facebook account.

Recently I created a separate Facebook account that I could use to interact with my students at school (this started during the teacher strikes last year and the easiest way for me to contact/educate them was through Facebook - go figure).

Today I decided to create a Rachel Morgan Facebook account (if you're counting, this is now number three!). So then I was going through the blogs that I follow to see who had links to Facebook, and I was clicking through to add those people as friends. I noticed then that some people had PAGES rather than actual accounts. So I looked up some info about pages, and that's when I discovered this:

Please be aware that maintaining multiple accounts is a serious violation of Facebook's Terms of Use. If we determine that an individual has more than one account, we reserve the right to terminate all of their accounts.

Eish. Ok. So I then decided to DELETE my new Rachel Morgan account and my school account and make pages instead :-) Which is far easier actually, now that I don't have to keep logging into three separate accounts. And the great thing is -- for those of you worried about protecting your real name -- even though you (the real you) are the administrator of the page, no one ever sees this administrator name (unless you write it somewhere on the page, of course). Whenever you post anything on the page, the page's name is used.

Anyway, so now I have a cute little Facebook button on the sidebar of my blog where you can "Like" me :-)
(Um... please like me... please??)

(And for those of you that I sent a friend request to from my in-the-process-of-being-deleted account, I'm sorry!)

And here's the website that taught me all about using Facebook Pages.

Teaser Tuesday (8): I Am Number Four

Title: I Am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore

I was sitting on the edge of the pontoon with my feet in the water, talking to a cute dark-haired, blue-eyed girl named Tara, when I felt it coming. The water around my leg started boiling, and my lower leg started glowing where the scar was imbedding itself.

I've been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time. I haven't read much yet, but so far I'm enjoying it!

Teaser Tuesdays
is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!
  • Share the title and author too so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Thank you so, so much to Misa Buckley for passing this wonderful award on to me!

In order to accept this award I need to...

1. Thank and link to my nominator (check ✔).
2. Share seven things about myself.
3. Present the award to a few bloggers I've recently discovered.

Seven things about me:

1. I can't sleep with a clock ticking but I can sleep with a fan blowing.
2. When I write I spend a lot more time thinking than I do actually writing.
3. I don't sleep with my windows open because I'm afraid someone might put their hand through during the night!
4. I teach students who are 15 to 18 years old, but I still give them a lollipop on their birthdays -- and they still like it!
5. I drive a little white Citi Golf.
6. When I try to sleep in the middle of my big bed I always end up diagonal somehow.
7. I put things away in special places for safekeeping and then totally forget where the special places are!

Passing it on...

Go check out these bloggers' stylish blogs!

~ ~ ~

Also, before I forget (again!), Rach, Marieke and Tessa are holding a Trilogy Contest! There are some great prizes to be won, but you need to enter before January 31st...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo Friday (4)

Yup, that's me! When I was in Cape Town I visited the Protea Hotel Fire and Ice and on one of their decks upstairs they had this big panel of red light. My friend immediately saw the silhouette photo opportunity, grabbed my camera and told me to go pose in front of the light! (She took a whole lot more than just four, but I didn't want to bore you!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writing Tip (5): Feeeeel It

Feeeeel It

I'm reading a book at the moment (I won't mention the title or author) that I'm kind of struggling to get through. It's got fantasy, mythology, action, it's well written... and yet I'm not desperate to pick it up at the end of each day. After pondering this for a little while I think I've realised why.

I'm not feeling anything!

I'm in the character's head, since it's written in the first person, but all I'm getting is an explanation of what's happening. And there's a lot happening! It's descriptive and there's plenty of dialogue, but what is she feeling?

I read a YA fantasy last year that I thought would be brilliant. It had such an awesome and original idea -- and yet it turned out to be, well, boring! I felt quite detached from the character and so it was just one event to the next event to the next event...

Bottom line: make sure you incorporate enough emotion to help your readers care about and relate to your characters.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Inspiration for Your Novel Set in the Winelands

The second part of my holiday was spent in Stellenbosch -- home to the grapes of some of South Africa's best wines. Hmm... I think I could come up with a good family saga set in the winelands... Wealthy family, forbidden love, secrets kept hidden for years...