Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amazon's New Kindle Devices

I've been absent from the blogosphere for the past few days - it's EXAM WEEK at school! Yippee! (Note sarcasm.) I may have missed a few things (like the 162 entries that have so far been written for the 2nd Campaigner Challenge) but I did NOT miss the fact that Amazon released several new devices yesterday!

I was pretty excited about the Kindle Fire. I mean, I've always liked the iPad, but it's a little pricey. The Kindle Fire is more affordable. Yay!


Does Amazon ship the Kindle Fire to South Africa? No. Does it ship to anywhere other than the US? No. I take back the "yay". And it appears that the Kindle Touch doesn't ship outside of the US either. Anyway, at the end of the day all I actually want to do is read books, so a basic Kindle would be fine for me.

So I bought one! Yay!

(To all of you who already own a Kindle, now would be a good time to tell me how fabulous you think it is so that I know I've made a good decision!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I did on my Summer Vacation Blogfest

Michael over at In Time... is hosting the What I did on my Summer Vacation Blogfest! Remember that essay you always had to write when you returned to school after the summer holidays? Well, this is it! (Except now it's not homework, it's something we want to do because we like writing!).

My Essay

This year I get a double summer holiday! That’s because while it was winter here I went off to England where it was summer, and now that I’ve been back a little while, we’re entering South African summer (which, just so you know, is far more of a summer than the English summer!).

I don’t handle sleep deprivation very well, so by the time I reached my friend’s home in London I was an exhausted, dizzy, smelly wreck. Fortunately, seeing sister + seeing friend + having a shower = a near cure for exhaustion.

We spent three days dashing around London seeing things like Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, The Tate Modern and Oxford Street (shopping! The window kind, mainly, considering that the Rand to the Pound was over eleven to one!).

After that I stayed a few nights in Oakley (Hampshire) with my grandparents, who unfortunately only have one spare room – inconveniently occupied by my parents at the time. So my sister and I shared a blow-up mattress in a study so small that the mattress filled the entire room... Imagine climbing off your bed and already being out of the door!

After the cramped mattress experience we spent some wonderfully restful time in Haytor (Devon) at my aunt’s large and comfortable country home. Here I visited a craftsmen’s guild, the Eden Project (amazing. You should go.), the Riverford Field Kitchen and even the beach!

And even though it was a wonderful holiday, by the time the plane coasted onto the runway in Durban I was thinking, It’s good to be home (and then we got to passport control and there was only ONE desk open for all of us South Africans to go through, and all I could think was, Typical...).

~ ~ ~

Sun 25 Sept: A photo on someone else's blog reminded me of something that happened just as we arrived at the Eden Project...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Art of the Idea

The principal at my school recently attended an amazing conference, and this afternoon she spoke to us about one of the sessions she attended - The Art of the Idea, by John Hunt. I've since googled this guy (I hadn't heard of him before) and have discovered his website, The Art of the Idea, and his book, The Art of the Idea.

The reason I'm posting about this is that I wanted to share a few of the points my principal mentioned - the ones that I think apply the most to us writerly types :-)

Image available from iStockphoto

  • Logic (facts) kills creativity. Those of us who write fiction (especially fantasy) don't have a problem here - why bother with silly things like logic and facts when you can just make stuff up?!
  • Trust your instincts or they will go away. If your gut feel is that that passage/scene/chapter/idea isn't working - then change it! Don't ignore your instincts, or it's likely that your critique partner/beta reader/agent/editor will pick up on that exact part that your instinct told you to change in the first place.
  • It is not plagiarism if you copy ideas. My favourite point! Of course, if your entire novel has the same idea as someone else's, well... I'd say that's not a good way to go. But I'm happy to admit that I've "borrowed" ideas from all over the place and pieced them together to create my own work.
  • We don't know what we don't know until we do what we normally don't do. (Feel free to read that sentence again if it doesn't make sense yet!) So... if you're following the same writing routine every single day and inspiration just isn't coming your way, mix it up a little. Do something completely different. Break away from the mundane, the habits.

And that's it for now :-)
Do you have any pointers for nurturing creativity and the growth of ideas?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (15): String Bridge

Title: String Bridge
Author: Jessica Bell

Moonlight pelts down on my face like a torch. I roll over and face the wall where darkness paints shadows I can sleep in.

I could have opened to any page in this book and found a beautifully constructed line to "tease" you with. It is full of wonderful imagery, and Jessica makes it seem effortless...

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!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If I Could Be Anyone I'd Be...

At the end of the day (figuritively speaking, since it's the beginning of the day here...) I'm happy to say that I like being me :-) Sure, it sucks at times, but that's the case for everyone, right? This is who God made me and I'm happy with that :-)

BUT! In the spirit of Talli Roland's Watching Willow Watts launch day celebrations, I've looked at some of the book characters I love and admire and have picked one that stands out the most for me. So. If I could be any book character I'd be...

Lyra from The Golden Compass.
(the book version, not the movie version, since the book was aeons better than the movie)

I am still in awe of the incredible world(s) Philip Pullman created in His Dark Materials series. While I don't agree with every message he portrays, I will always admire his incredible imagination and storytelling ability.
If only those worlds truly existed and I could see the things Lyra saw... How fantastical!
There are many things about this character that I admire: she is open, trusting, brave, forgiving, loyal and loving.

This post is in celebration of the launch of Talli Roland's second novel, Watching Willow Watts!

For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and nights watching telly, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.

Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.

But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Learning to Play with Photoshop

I recently downloaded the trial version of Adobe CS5 Master Collection (because the real deal costs, like, several months' salary!). It's kind of difficult to use. In fact, the majority of the time I didn't know what I was doing! I just Googled* "How to xyz..." and then followed the instructions. Sort of.

I now give you... my new hair :-)

Some time after I posted the orange one on Facebook I received a text from my boyfriend that said something like, "I can't believe you dyed your hair orange and didn't tell me! I had to find out from someone at home!"
Oops. I guess not everyone reads the captions beneath photos!

~ ~ ~

*Which reminds me: I saw this T-shirt on the weekend that said "I don't need Google, my wife knows everything". Teeheeee! You know when you see something that is just the perfect gift for someone you know? Yeah...

Friday, September 9, 2011

First Campaigner Challenge - Confrontation

The Challenge:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

The door swung open – and then swung back and hit me in the face.

“It’s none of your damn business!” screeched Holly from the other side of the door.

I moaned something unintelligible and clutched my throbbing nose. Flip, that was painful. I aimed my leg at the door and kicked as hard as I could. It slammed open against the chalkboard with a bang like a gunshot.

“What the —”

“You broke my nose!” I yelled.

“And I’d be happy to break it again!” She grabbed the nearest object – Mrs Carmel’s stapler – and flung it at my head. “How dare you embarrass me like that in front of everyone?”

I dodged the stapler. “How dare you go after my ex-boyfriend? Isn’t that against some kind of universal sister code?”

“He went after me! And if you were sticking to any universal sister code you’d quit being such a bitch and ask me what he did to me to make me so upset.”

I paused, breathing hard. “He did something to you?”

Holly shook her head. “No way. You don’t get to care now. It’s too late.” She strode past me and out into the corridor. The door swung shut.

(200 words)

PS. If you like my story, click here and I'm number 350 on the list :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (14): Past Perfect

Title: Past Perfect
Author: Leila Sales

I glared at him. "You came all the way to Essex just to spy on us?"
"Yeah." He smirked. "I crossed the street. It was really rough."

Ah, I do like a good bit of sarcasm... :-)

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!