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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Well it's that time of year again.

Well it's that time of year again. On the down side, another year is coming to an end and I didn't complete any of my new years resolutions from the beginning of 2014. I'm still fat, I'm still a bit of a snarky bitch at times and my house is still a mess. But on the upside, who cares about last years resolutions, it's time to wipe the slate clean and set some new ones.

1) I was going to start with lose weight. Then I realised I am going to be in my friends wedding so as a public service to her I am going to stay as I am.. I would hate to show her up (Hey any excuse will do).

2) Keep this house spotless, seeing as i will be moving in about 4 weeks I like this resolution. I never said anything about the new house, so on a technicality I only need to clean for 4 weeks this year. Winning.

3) I'm toying with the idea of putting, 'be nicer to my husband' on the resolution list but as we are getting older (the ripe old age of 40) I don't think the poor dear needs a nasty shock like that, so I will just stay the sarcastic troll he has learnt to ignore (for his own welfare of course).

4) Save some money. The way I see it I need to spend as much as I can to 'save' this poor money from the cold dark confines of a money box. That's my idea of saving and it's a resolution I'm sure I can keep.

5) I really should cut out coke and chocolate as well, but I'm not really in a place where I want to go to jail for stabbing someone because they forgot to put a dish in the sink. This may happen without my caffeine and sugar hit. So once again, I will sacrifice my own well being for the safety of others. (I know, I'm so giving)

Okay, I'm sorry, In all seriousness, I notice that every year my resolutions are based around ways to better my life and I never stick to them. So this year my one and only resolution is to make the lives of others better in some small way. It may be a joke to cheer them up or an anonymous bunch of flowers to let them know someone is thinking of them. It might be a helping hand to clean their yard or an invite to a party for someone lonely. No matter what it is, I think by helping others I will also help myself.

To all my readers, friends, family and anyone at all.. I hope you all have a wonderful new year and the best year yet in 2015. See you next year

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Top 10 things to love about Christmas.

HOORAY!!! It is officially December and therefor I am going all crazy Christmas lady on you all. This is the top 10 things to love about Christmas. The judges decision is final (That's me, get over it).

10: Christmas Carols: Yes I know, some people hate them, but bah humbug! I love them. Nothing beats walking through the shopping center to the tunes of Christmas. Even better if you get carolers come to the door (That basically never happens in Australia though but a girl can dream).

9: Shopping: I love the hustle and bustle of shopping and I even love the crowded shops. What other time of the year can you go on a mad shopping spree and not feel guilty? The thought of how happy my loved ones are going to be just makes me all warm and toasty inside.

8: Cooking up a feast: The tradition of Christmas lunch at my house. I open my doors to anyone that wants to come. Family, friends, friends of friends, the elderly man my daughter used to work with because he is all alone, some lady my mother met at quilting and anyone else who walks through the door. The more the merrier, come on- it's Christmas! Are YOU busy December 25th?

7: The K-Mart wishing tree: You may not have K-mart, it depends where you are reading this, but there are all sorts of charities everywhere. I love the K-mart wishing tree. I pop an extra present or two in the trolley and place them under the tree provided for some kiddies that would other wise be having a pretty cruddy Christmas.. No suckie Christmas's allowed!!! Not on this Santa's watch!

6: Decorating the house: This includes weeks of preparation. Not only using store bought items but the fun of making things with the kids. It builds the atmosphere. Here is a really cool website that has great Christmas craft.. It may come with a glitter warning- well at least it should. Christmas crafts for kids

5: Norad Santa tracker: I love this and I am convinced that even if I had no children I would sit up at night and do this myself. For those of you unfamiliar with Norad. It kicks off on Christmas eve and There is a little animation of Santa and his sleigh flying around the world, dropping of presents. The kids can track his movements and will beg to go to bed as they see him getting closer to, whichever country you live in. It is so much fun and it can be found at Norad santa tracker

4: Christmas light hunting: How awesome is driving around with family or friends, light spotting. When you happen across entire streets or neighborhoods that get involved, it can be great fun to get out and walk it. So beautiful to look at and everyone is in the Christmas spirit. Even better is when your own house is fully decked out and people stop to chat to you and to wish you a Merry Christmas. The electricity bill may not be so festive but hey, worry about that in January!

3: Baking home made cookies: This one is a two parter. The baking of the cookies is fun, I always bake extra for the Christmas lunch the following day and also make up a heap to give to unexpected visitors as gifts. Some times it feels like Santa's workshop in my kitchen. I have the production line going. One kid rolling, one cutting, one decorating. They cry that their fingers hurt and they want to go to sleep but deep down they love it I'm sure (I'm kidding, don't call the authorities, there is no unpaid child labor here). The second part is then leaving the cookies out for Santa. This particular Santa will only drink Coca-Cola and eat homemade cookies. (My kids have gotten into lot's of discussions about this with friends who claim Santa drinks milk, (not in this house buddy!) I felt kind of bad that I might be setting a bad example until I heard one child say, "my mum said Santa only drinks wine." Thank God for that kids mum! Cookie recipe here

2: Watching Christmas movies: Hello my name is Suzie, I am an addict. I currently own 80 Christmas movies on DVD and I watch almost all of them every Christmas season. Don't send help, I may hold them hostage until they watch at least one movie with me. Some movies make me laugh, some I cry and some I wonder why the hell i'm watching this rubbish, but this is probably my favorite of all my family traditions. top 100 xmas movies here

1: Christmas morning: If seeing your kids or grand kids or whoever's face light up when they get up Christmas morning and see a bunch of presents, the remnants of cookies and coke and the reindeer's half chewed carrot , doesn't hit you hard in the feels you need to re-evaluate. The excitement, the laughter, the togetherness- Sigh, is it December 24th yet?

Well That's my list, I would love to hear about your family traditions as well. So leave me a comment and we will have a chat. HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS. Click here I dare you!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Is that my Author voice or a distant British relative?

First of all I'm not sure if "Author Voice" is the correct term but I'm sticking with it. I call my author voice the sound, feel and personality of my novels main characters. The issue I am having is that my Author voice varies greatly to my real life voice.

My real life voice is strong, bossy, funny (so I'm told) and usually pretty inappropriate. I don't have a stuck up bone in my body and I fit in with men telling crude jokes and with women who love a good bitch session. Yes, I know... I need help, please send some (oh and chocolate). Here is the issue.. My author voice tends to be an 80 year old, wealthy, British Grandmother. I am having a great deal of difficulty getting my personality on paper and I'm blaming everyone!!!

First of all I blame Enid Blyton. I grew up reading the folk of the faraway tree and the wishing chair and I freaking loved them. They were like little worlds hiding within my bedroom that no one knew about but me. I would read them over and over and over. I even had a little rocking chair that I would sit in while I read and I would keep looking down to see if it had sprouted wings yet. I really wanted to name my children Dick and Fanny like the books because it was the funniest thing I had ever heard. They are thankful I changed my mind (I'm still a little disappointed to be honest.. Scott and Tahlia are such boring names by comparison)

Then I blame.. well pretty much everyone. I live in Australia but 90% of the stuff I watch on television is American.Most of the books I read turn out to be American or British Authors also (not intentionally, it just happens that way) So when I want my main character to go to the stinky old train station that smells like cat pee, she actually goes to the subway. I'm sorry but doesn't subway just make sandwiches? (That's the other thing we call them rolls.. a sandwich is made with bread not buns or rolls). Maybe my fingers are American and that's why they happily type away, using American lingo without my consent! now excuse me while I go and snack on some candy ARGHH lollies.

My third issue is my constant need to make my main characters coffee drinkers and wine drinkers. What is that all about? I don't drink either! I drink coca-cola morning, noon and night. Why do my characters never cuddle up on the sofa (oops lounge) and drink a coke? Why do they never meet for a coke with their friends?

Oh and the final issue is that my main character is always a drop dead stunner. She never has lumps of fat where they don't belong, she never has a tooth that has been knocked out or a scar where her third nipple used to be and i need to ask myself why not? No one is perfect in real life. Maybe I realise my own quirky weirdness is just not marketable because everyone, like me, is used to the norm and somewhat expect it. So my main characters for now remain with the looks of a movie star and the attitude of Mary Poppins.

Ps No offense intended to Americans or people with three nipples and especially not to Americans with a third nipple.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Self publishing hurting the reader?

As I excitedly opened my newest Kindle purchase I snuggled down for a good read. I don't get much time to read these days between managing an Authors twitter account that I don't understand, facebook pages x5, a blog, google +  account and trying to learn and write books at the same time. So when I do, I want to delve in and be submerged by well written stories that have words that transport me to that time, that place and turn me into that character. Not too much to ask surely?? 

I was sorely disappointed, what I thought was a contemporary romance novel, turned out to be a 10 page short story that had likely been written by a primary school student. It wasn't edited, it was not descriptive, it had no depth and the ending was rushed and predictable. I have 6 children, if i want to read about what happened on the weekend I have a vast array of school books at my disposal. What was this book that I just bought (yes bought!!! payed good money for) doing in with the novels when it was 10 pages long?

As a new writer, living in Adelaide (lets face it opportunity is hardly knocking down my door) I am thankful for amazon/ Kindle self publishing or it would be highly unlikely I would get the opportunity to be a published author. I initially thought it was a fantastic idea and I dived in, clothes and all. I didn't stop to think about the other side of the coin, that is the reader. Maybe the reason it is so difficult to get published using traditional methods is because not everyone that likes to write has what it takes to be a writer. Just like every little boy that likes to play football will not play for the AFL. It doesn't mean he should stop playing locally but it also doesn't mean he has the right to run out onto the field at the MCG. 

As a reader I have always bought the real life paper version of books so had mostly shopped at book stores. The books I found were therefor all done through a publisher like Penguin Books and not self published. The quality of most of these book is very high. They look good, they are polished and they have had professionals mull over them for months before they hit the stores. My experience in the month I have been using Kindle has been bitterly disappointing. So many of the books I have bought are obviously written by novices and I have wasted too much money and WAAAYY too much time on books that should not see the light of day. I have learnt to always order the free sample before actually paying for the book. This usually gives a good indication of the Authors style.

So here I am, torn  once again, from an author prospective I love that so many people with talent would otherwise go unrecognised and through self publishing have had the opportunity to get their name out there and have their stories read. However as a reader, I feel a little irked that I have to swim through a sea of rubbish to get to the island of gems.

I would love to know your experiences as readers, Have you had difficulty finding decent books? Do you ever give indie Authors a go or do you stick to the big, well known names? Leave me a comment and fill me in because as I said I'm new to this technology thing :)

Monday, 3 November 2014

Dare to dream

One evening as I was walking back from the local shops, struggling with three bags of groceries because my trusty VW beetle had proved to be less trusty than I originally thought and had broken down yet again (If Oprah is reading this,I'm poor and still have no car), I noticed that cars were coming from everywhere and pulling up into driveways of houses. I looked at the time and it was just after 5. People were exiting their cars and looked dirty and weary and there wasn't a smile among them. This got me thinking, "how many people are actually living their dream life?"

I know I wasn't. I was walking from the shop instead of being delivered to my front door in a chauffeur driven limousine to start with, even then I would be getting dropped off to a 2 bedroom rental that housed my husband, myself and five of our six children.  We were going through a financial rough patch that was proving very difficult to dig ourselves out of. I would see my husband working six days a week and ridiculous hours, just to skim by and not have enough money for his lunch two days after payday.

I wished I could go back to work to help him out but some of our children are very young and need me at home for now. I tried my hand at some home based business' to try and help with a little bit of extra money. I started baking and decorating character birthday cakes and selling them. The problem was the amount of time and money that went into them was barely covered by what people were prepared to pay.

I came to a cross roads in my mind, right there in the middle of the street. I was okay at cake decorating but not great at it. To continue on I would need to invest money into lessons and more equipment. If I was honest with myself I hated doing it as well. Every time I knew I had a cake to make it took such a physical effort to get up and start the process. I began to wonder, "why am I continually putting money and effort into careers I don't enjoy? Some I did okay at and some I failed." I began to see it from a life changing perspective, if I was going to fail at something, I would rather potentially fail at something I love". So what exactly did I love? What was my passion?

Writing is my passion, I love it! I obsessively write shopping lists and cleaning schedules and anything that gives me the opportunity to put pen to paper.  I used to write all the time when I was younger and always got lots of praise from my family, teachers, university lecturers and so on. If they all thought I had "it" and it was something I loved, why the hell not?

I want to live my dream, I want to be an author and I want to write books that are easy to read, books that get people reading regardless of whether the content is life changing or not because sometimes just the act of reading is the life changing part. Yes I am daring to dream!

So here I go, I had this revelation about 2-3 weeks ago. In that time I have written 3 stories for little children and a novel. They will all be up on Amazon and ibooks within the next few weeks, I'm hoping they do well but if they don't I'll try again. If I have to give up on a dream I want to know it at least stood a chance.

Find me on twitter: @zeeyone3
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Find me at suziejayauthor.blogspot.

Yep I got it covered!

Monday, 27 October 2014

full books vs part books.

There seems to be a new trend among writers (particularly of ebooks) where they basically write one book but publish it a piece at a time, numbering those part 1, 2, 3 etc. I liken it to watching a soap opera rather than a movie.
A movie (like a novel) is a complete story and may have a sequel at a later date but the actual movie (or novel) is still a complete movie.

An episode of a soap opera will leave you hanging for the next section and is just that, its a snippet of a story. It is not a complete stand alone piece.

Some readers aren't a fan of this technique as it is forcing you to spend more and more money. The reader will often be tricked into buying a 99c or sometimes free book, once they read it they are hooked (if the author is a good writer or suits the readers style) the next book will often be still quite reasonable $2.99-4.99 and after that they are really hooked and the next section may be more again. It may end up costing the reader $20-$30 for the complete set.

The good: As far as marketing goes I like the strategy and I think its very clever. It helps Authors grip readers and commits them to buying more of their work. It also allow the reader to "test drive" your writing before they commit to buying an entire book.

The bad: Their seems something a little deceptive about it. Especially when it is sometimes not made clear up front. The other bad thing is new Authors and self published authors such as myself are almost forced to implement the same strategy even if they don't agree with it . There seems no way to compete in the ebook market as an unknown writer. Imagine this: you are scrolling through amazon and see two books that take your fancy. One is priced $15 and the other is 99c. Most people will choose the 99c even though down the track the entire book may end up costing more than the $15 one.

I would love to know peoples opinion of this. Have you ever been caught out? Are you an author that uses this technique to sell? What are the positives and negatives?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Just a quickie about editing and book previews

Over the last week it has felt like my brain has been backstroking through chocolate pudding. My head hurts and I could do with a good nap.

I have been fortunate to find some really lovely people that are willing to help a newbie out and offer advice, tips, tricks and pretty much any knowledge they have they are happy to share.

I have noticed lots of Authors offer free tidbits of their novel before it is published. I like this idea, it allows the reader to not only test the book subject but also allows them to see if they connect with the style of the writer. Its like marriage, not everyone is compatible. In fact there is a highly acclaimed novel out at the moment that seems to be on every top 20 list, yet I just couldn't get past the first few pages. The topic was intriguing and I was looking forward to the story yet, it just didn't 'do it for me'

I tried bumming the book off to my mother because she loves a good freebie and will read pretty much anything. A few day later she told me she just couldn't get into it and had passed it on to one of her friends. Unfortunately I have since learnt that it has been passed on a few more times and not one of us has been able to get past the first chapter.

When an author offers the chance to peek under their skirt (or shorts) it allows us to take the aspect of style out of the equation. I have decided I would like to put up a little bit of my soon to be novel. With this comes the issue of editing. I have contacted several editors and they won't even quote me on an edit until the book is finished and have informed me their starting price ranges from $2,000 to - $3,000. Now not wanting to sound negative, but I wasn't actually expecting my book to make that sort of money and can't justify taking that out of the family budget. There is no way I would let even a page of my novel out into the big wide world without an edit. I was feeling disheartened when I found . Its pretty much a sight where people with some serious skills offer their services for $5.

Not just editing, but converting to ebook, designing front covers and reading books and writing reviews. An absolute miracle for people like myself who are still learning and need a bit of a helping hand.

I acknowledge that higher quality services may be available but I have hired a lovely woman who is friendly and helpful and this has allowed me the option to get the first chapter of my book up for public scrutiny and I can't wait. My fingers are crossed that it will be well received but my knees are knocking.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Once upon a time.

Once upon a time there was a wanna be author who was coasting along on cloud nine, maneuvering it from place to place until she had it parked in her perfect life. She sat making plans for the millions of dollars she would make now that she had decided to become an author. Imagining how her days would be filled with sitting by the pool of her beach house that she was yet to own, sipping cocktails and basically living the life. By night she would sit with a mug of coffee looking out at the sea and would begin to write. It was her dream life and she was going to be living it in a few short months when she finished her first book and it became a huge success. she couldn't wait, financial freedom was staring her in the eye and dangling the previously elusive carrot.

Well Isn't delusion a wonderful gift? Sadly I got sucked off of cloud 9 (yes that was me in the story above) and landed in a torturous reality called the Internet. I am new to this, my gift is writing and that's the extent of it. I have no idea how to get a book published, so I turned to the good old world wide web.

I am quickly realising that there is such a thing as having to much information at your disposal. A simple Google search "How do I get a book published?" resulted in thousands of results. I saw words like ebook (what the hell is that?) is it some kind of drug for book nerds? I saw self publishing, I assume that's when you go to the local stationary shop and ask them to photo copy 10 lots of your manuscript. I saw self promotion, I know about 8 people and that includes my mother (looks like I went overboard at the stationary shop).

I now have Facebook, twitter, Google + and this blog. Sadly I don't know how to use any of them. Trying to work out this foreign land i have come crashing into is taking more time and effort than the actual book I intended to write. I have 30 pages so far and acknowledge it may never get published or ebooked or what ever the goal is these days. I like to break rules so I would hardly say im a publishers dream. I used to teach high school students how to write and the golden rule was to NEVER, EVER, under ANY circumstance, start a story with "Once upon a time" I wonder how many of them would be surprised to read the very first line of my new manuscript is , yep you guessed it. Once upon a time.....

This blog is my way of bringing you along for the ride with me. I can't always promise we will be travelling on that silver lined cloud and things will inevitably get a little bumpy. I cant even promise it will be fun but I'm to scared to go it alone so please hold my hand and protect me as I travel from totally naive dreamer to best selling author (I hope)