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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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