Friday, October 31, 2014

The Summation

Well, I set myself a few challenges at the start of the month. With an hour to go before All Saints Day and the end of that pseudo holiday, Halloween, I thought it was a good chance to check in and do a reset.

So, the challenges:

1) Save $300 a week. Done. My tuition fund for the first subject of next year is nearly there. Very pleased about this.

2) The Abs Challenge. Made it to day 17 - which is  a lot further than last  time I tried.

3) Throw out five things a day - Made it to day 20. The place is feeling somewhat less cluttered, but there is still a way to go,

4) Have a veggie juice a day - call this 75% done. I'm pretty happy with that - the nutribullet is being used four or five times a week.

So, this month, I'll attempt the same challenges - the throw out challenge might get a bit hard, but we can only try.

I've also got ten days before my major assignments are due in. Thankfully I'm in a good place - the story is at third draft stage, the research journey document is planned out and I'm up to date with my tutorials.The next couple of weekends will be spent polishing the turds, but hopefully I'll get through. (Plastic Mancunian - I encourage you to enroll in a subject or two at the Open University - even undergrad stuff - it certainly makes you hone the craft.

While I'm here, please find attached my last tute paper, of which I am quite proud. I was asked to discuss whether I would write for Young Adults. Of course I would  - but they don't need to know this :) Went down a treat with my tute group.

This piece was presented with academic references  - which have been taken out.

Would you write for Young Adults?  - A Response

Would you write for young adults? The question was asked.
The intrepid student was up to the task.
Like Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl,
Harry, Hermione, Ron and the Owl
Could she find the right person to carry the plot?
And keep the books going ‘til the themes were forgot.
Could she weave in the backdrop of dystopia found?
Or work gamification into lives all around?  
Could she find the right language to engage the child? 
Would she keep the love action acceptably mild?

For writing for children is incredibly hard,
And talented writers are all in the yard.

To research the psyche of the changing rug rat
Is a venture that leaves this writer quite flat.
They read over their ages and under pump,
And like to hear stories of things at the dump.

Of course children like poems and riddles and rhymes,
But who can be bothered with these withering chimes. 
Of course know your children and what makes them tick, 
Is far too much hard work for this grumpy old chick.

What of Horrible Histories and “Off with their heads!”
And stories that make kids hide under their beds?
The research component could be rather fun
But would the kid’s attention be finally won? 

How do you make the simple the very complex? 
This conundrum continues to ever perplex.
For children need challenges up to their mark
And writing this genre is no walk in the park.

Then there are the series that the children so love:
Tonnes of material and backstories to shove,
And themes age eternal (there’s no need to invent),
Of honour and courage and energies spent.
These themes that all children can see in themselves,
Are themes that will forever keep books on the shelves.

But I wonder what happens when all books go away
And the tablet takes over as the object of play.
How do you write for this fast-changing field?
Do you keep up with the Joneses or quietly yield?
The challenge at hand is to mix, match and grow 
And  hope that your ideas continue to flow.

Would I write for young adults? The answer is no.
It’s tricky and sticky and there’s no place to go.

Would I write for young adults? Ah, what’s the use!

I just hope in my next life I will be Dr Seuss.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Nerd Alert Book Blog

Finally, Sunday Stealing has posted a cracker to answer - just my cup of tea. A book blog - what more could I want? Somebody to grub out my first draft of my short story. Somebody to do my ironing? Somebody to vacuum the lounge...

As always, a paragraph gets degrubbed and a little housework is completed, I'll get through this tonight. There is a lot to do - after my jaunt down to Tasmania means that everything is a bit behind today. So here we go.

1. Favorite childhood book? 

I was an Enid Blyton fan when I was a kid and the Magic Faraway Tree was a firm favourite. I was also into the Little Golden Books and I remember that The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Mickey and Minnie go on a Picnic were read to me on a daily basis.

2. What are you reading right now? 

I have two books on the go. I started "The Folded Man" by Matt Hill on the recommendation of a friend, but I finished Richard Flanagan's masterpiece "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" yesterday and I've picked it up and started to read it again. It's one of the few books that I've read twice, back to back (up there with "The Book Thief" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

I've only got a library card with my university library, but I've not reserved any items. Thankfully most of the journals I require are available online.

4. Bad book habit?

Probably reading to page thirty, getting bored, throwing the book against the wall and picking it up and putting it away when I clean. Some of the books that this has happened to include "The Hobbit" (still haven't read it) and "The Great Gatsby" (finally got through this last year).

I have a tendency to buy books rather than borrow too. Dymocks have  two for three sales regularly. This used to equate to six books for nine... I'm slowly breaking this habit.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?


6. Do you have an e-reader? 

Yes, and I love my kindle.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? 

I normally read one book at a a time, but I will have a couple of references books around the place for a bit of interest. I can do one fiction and one non-fiction at the same time, but I still prefer just going one at a time.

Term time I will have a couple of reference books on the go, but term time doesn't count.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?


9. Least favourite book you've read this year (so far)? 

We did something called "The Shock of the Fall" by Nathan Filer which was okay - not great. Read it for book group and we had a run of books about mental illness / autism/ Aspergers. Although it's a great topic I was rather over it by then.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?

This has to be a toss up between Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites" and Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". Strangely, both written by Australian authors. Both are phenomenal books.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? 

Probably not often enough. I rarely read science fiction or crime novels. I have nothing against the latter, but the former I've never had much of a inkling to read - mind you, I've started the Game of Thrones series recently.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? 

Literary fiction and humorous popular fiction (up market Chick Lit - like Caitlin Moran's "How to Build a Girl".

13. Can you read on the bus? 

I do a lot of reading on the tram - but I must be facing forward. I can read on the train and on plains, but I can't read in the car.

14. Favorite place to read? 

Lying on my bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?  

I will lend books to friends - and normally I'm not fussed if I get it back - there are some books that are loaned out but with the firm word, "I do want this back at some stage." I'm still mad at whoever has my original copy of "The Book Thief". My book group are great at returning books.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? 

Again, depends on the book. I'm getting better at not turning over corners and using a bookmark. The kindle helps with this one.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Only in university text books and only in pencil. My copy of Dorian Grey is littered with pencil comments.

18. Not even with text books? 

I just admitted to that in the last question.

19. A book you didn't expect to like but did? 

Three come to mind. After hearing so much about "American Psycho" I thought I would hate it. I LOVED it. Brilliant book. Parody at it's best. In the same light, Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe" was phenomenal. The rest of the book group thought it dreadful, but I loved its rawness. We read something called "Foal's Bread" which grew on me like warts. I keep thinking about it - sign of a good book even though I struggled through it

20. What makes you love a book? 

Great writing, great characters, unseen plot points. But mainly brilliant writing (a la Flanagan)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Let's Talk Travel Meme

I want to try and finish the first draft of my short story tonight. I have about 1200 words to work with before I get this off to my study buddy. I have until 10 November to get it in as good a shape as possible for grading, along with a "Research Journey" paper,which won't be as harrore.

Regardless, Bud Weiser of Sunday Stealing fame has provided the questions.

100 words of the story. A question. Easy - yes?

Ok let’s talk travel, do you like to travel? 

I love travelling. If I won the lottery I reckon I'd travel six months of the year. Love it. I work to travel, as my coffee mug says. Though at the moment I feel like I work to pay my tuition.

Where have you been?

I've been lucky. I've visited over the years  - Indonesia (three times), Thailand, The United States (twice) The United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand on multiple occasions.

Next place you want to go? 

There are too many places I want to go. India and Japan are on the list (though after the reading I've been doing for the last few weeks, I might have to leave Japan for a bit. There might be a trip to Thailand or Bali if I can find the cash sometime in the new year. I'm overdue for a trip back to England too - it's nearly been five years. Time to go again.

What is something you MUST take with you when you travel? 

A charged up Kindle. I like to read on holidays. A bath plug is also really handy - so many hotel rooms don't have them. Wonderful when you need to wash out your smalls.

How do you like to travel? (mode of transportation)

I'm pretty happy on most modes of transport, but I really love boats. I'm happy on the Manly ferry or a boat around the Greek Island or on a punt down the Cam River in Cambridge. Love boats.

With someone, or alone? 

I travel alone. Nobody to travel with me. (Or not interested in going to places my friends want to go and vice versa)

Do you dance in your car when there are other people with you? 


If you're quiet what does it mean? 

It means I'm quiet. Sometimes it means I'm thinking. Sometimes it means I'm a bit stressed (though I tend to sing when I'm stressed). Sometimes it means I'm a bit blue. But generally it means that I'm just being quiet and there is nothing wrong with that - especially as I'm an introvert.

Favorite scent?  

Does there need to be just one. Up there, roast lamb, baking bread, dogs paws, Stella McCartney perfume (not that it appears to be being made at the moment) fresh sheets, fresh coffee.

Favorite store? 

My witch shit shop in the Royal Arcade. It's a home away from home. (

Say you wanted coffee.. what kind is your favorite?  

My current standard order is a large, skinny, decaf cappuccino. Unfortunately I've been made to swear off caffeine.

Favorite kind of pizza? 

Anything with hot salami, lots of cheese and anchovies.

Do you get embarrassed easily? 

Yes and no - depends on he situation.

Do you mind people asking you personal questions? 

Most of the time, no. There are some things I just don't talk about and I'll happily keep these boundaries.

You have a tank of gas, $50, and the day off… what do you do? 

Drive down to the Mornington Peninsula and spend the day at the Hot Springs. Bliss.

Favorite tv show? 

The only show I watch religiously at the moment is "Masters of Sex". It's a great period piece.

Song you turn the volume up all the way to listen to? 

The Master's Apprenticies, "Turn Up Your Radio". If you don't come from Australia, you won't know it, so here it is.

Something you keep in your car? 

My friend Sam gave me a toy rat - Scabbers from Harry Potter to be precise. He lives in my glove box.

 Highlight of your day? 

Both of Blarney's boys gave me a cuddle - without being asked. And I have 2300 words of my rough draft done.

 Something you do everyday that you wish you didn’t have to do? 

Wake up alone.

 Do you mind if people just show up at your house unannounced? 

Yes. I like to have at least tidied the place before they come, but I'm getting better at this one. Few people come to my flat.

What do you do when you disagree with someone? 

I rarely fight with people I disagree with. Normally I can't be bothered. Only if I respect the person and their point of view will I put up a fight. Normally I'll agree to disagree.

Do you enjoy rain? 

Love it.

Who’s your favorite person in the whole world… besides me?

Now that would be telling....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Sunday Meme - Random Questions

As always, on a Sunday, a meme - and a check in for the tests I've set myself this week. The meme, as always, is from Sunday Stealing.

They're okay questions:

Who were you with yesterday?

Friends. Came up for a party. It was nice.

What woke you up this morning?

The sun peeking through the curtains of my hotel room. After eight blissful hours sleep it was lovely.

Where are you?

At the moment, in the lounge waiting for my plane at Sydney Airport. Waiting for planes is a good time to blog memes.

Is tomorrow going to be a good day?

I will attempt to make it a good day. As my current job is something I'm not that fond of I have to find ways of making it a good day.

What is on your mind right now?

There are quite a few things on my
mind. Things like what have I left off my shopping list, how am I going to write a short story in six weeks, should I pursue another role or stay in the job I'm in, do I need much more geopolitical stuff for my short story, should I organise my bibliography now (YES), what should I get my host family for Christmas... it goes on and on. Oh, and do I really have to finish the dire book group book for this month. Unfortunately I'm not enjoying it at all.

Do you listen to music every day?

No. Not intentionally, though it may be on in the background.

What is your favourite type of soda?

Does Indian Tonic Water count? It goes well with gin. On occassion, I love an ice cold coca cola, but that is rare.

Are you a fast typist?

I'm a middling five finger typist - sit around 50 wpm. Fast enough for me anyway.

Have you ever won an award?

No, but I've won the odd competition. A short story competition and a short fictional piece won me two airline tickets to anywhere in the world.

Are you listening to music right now?

No. Just the background noise of the airport.

How long to your birthday?

About ten months. Only had a birthday about six weeks ago.

What makes you angry?

Injustice, stupidity, bigotry and short-sightedness. Oh, I've just described our current federal government.

Do you buy and sell things on ebay?

Yes. Both. And thankfully I've had very few bad experiences. Thank goodness for PayPal.

What do you do when you're mad?

Stomp around the place and rant a lot. Thankfully I don't get angry too often and when I do I let it go quickly.

Do certain songs make you cry?

Yes. My Funny Valentine cuts me to the quick every time.

Are you a happy person?

I like to think so. Most of the time.

What makes you happiest?

Good friends, nine food, theatre, books, conversation. Cuddles.

Do you have faith in yourself?

Yes. If I don't have faith in myself, who will?

Oh, my challenges are going well. I'm up to date with the Abs Challenge, I've managed to walked one way to work every day, the greens smoothies are going well and I'm still throwing out five things a day quite happily. I'm rather proud of myself for keeping to this.

Right better catch that plane....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Meme: The Random 20

Ah, it's Sunday. So much for study this weekend. My cousin is coming to stay for a few days and I have housework to get done, dinner to make to take to Blarney's, the spare room to do up. Oh what fun.

So as always, one question, one job. Means that things get done.

1. Have you had an argument with anyone recently? If so, do you still have issues with that person?  

I really don't argue with people as normally I can't be bothered. The arguments I've had this year have normally been over politics and if whoever I'm disagreeing with has thought about what they're saying I have no issue. If they're blinding going into their views, I walk away. No point. I don't bother arguing with stupid people.

2. Are you talking to anyone while filling this in? How about texting/chatting on Facebook? 

No, just muttering to myself.

3. Have you done something recently that helped someone else, in any way? 

I'm a kind person by nature and will lend a hand without thinking, whether it be holding a door open for a person struggling with groceries etc. I supposed I fed my downstairs neighbour's cat last weekend - that helped them out.

4. Who was the last person to pay you a compliment? 

One or two people have asked if I have lost weight recently. 

 5. Is there anything that’s happened in the past month, that you wish you could go back in time and change? 

No, all is pretty good. I'm a great believer in you are exactly where you need to be.

 6. What colour is your purse/wallet? 

Teal and blue - a really nice MyWalit unit I've had for a few years. Glorious Italian leather. My one luxury item - it's lasting well.

 7. What’s the closest item to you that’s black? 

Most of my wardrobe is black - or a variant of black.

 8. Think about what you looked like 5 years ago. How did you look different, compared to the way you look now? 

I'm about the same size, my hair is the same, just redder. Probably a few more wrinkles and I'm definitely a lot more toned and fitter/

 9. Before Facebook became popular, did you use any other social networking site, like Bebo or Myspace?  


10. Has someone of the opposite sex ever sung to you? If so, how did you respond to it? 

My friend Lachlan used to sing me the "Panada" song, which goes to the tune of "Knees up Mother Brown." I used to grimace back at him.

 11. When did you last hug someone of the opposite sex? 

I was greeted, as always, by Jonella's boyfriend, with a huge bear hug the other weekend. He's a demonstrative bugger.

 12. Have you ever seen the film “Casablanca”? Did you like it? 

Yes, I've seen Casablanca. I adore Casablanca. Great film.

 13. Do you have a relative whose name begins with ‘L’? Tell me about him/her. 

My cousin Lindy is about nine years younger than me, lives in Adelaide and is the mother of twins. I haven't seen her for over ten years but we keep in touch on Facebook. My cousin Lesley, about nine years older than me is a scientist living in Canberra. Mother of two. Only see her at funerals, so I saw her about four years ago.

 14. Are you a secretive person? 

Surprisingly more secretive than may realise. I like to keep things like this.

 15. When did you last eat? 

Now. Lunch of salad, flat bread and baba ganoush that I made about half an hour ago.

 16. If you were going to buy a present for a special person, what would you generally choose? 

Some sort of experience that we can share together - either take them out for a meal or purchase theatre tickets. Something like that.

 17. If I’m going to buy you a box of chocolates, which kind should I definitely NOT get? 

Cheap chocolates. And I'm not that fond of the orange creams - or any creme centres. Pralines, white chocolate, anything a bit unusual goes down well.

 18. Is there something you generally always ask for help with? 

My taxes are done professionally. I have been known to bring in a big strong, hairy bloke to kill spiders for me. Some odd jobs need an engineering friend - like putting up blinds... but I'm very sufficient normally.

 19. If you had to give up your phone or your computer, which would it be? 

I'd give up the phone. You can always make calls through Skype.

 20. Has anyone called you gorgeous/beautiful today?

No. That hasn't happened in a very long while.

Blog done, housework here I come.

p.s. Day Five of the Clean up my life challenge.

Sit ups, done and up to date (30 sit ups, 12 crunches, 12 leg raises and a 20 second plank)
Finding 5 things to throw out a day still - gave about 20 items of clothing to charity yesterday.
Green juice has been had - two days had off, back to it now.
Looking forward to walking to work tomorrow.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day Two: Habits Start Small

Before I get into my challenge, I have to get something off my chest. I am sickened an appalled by our current Federal Government and the xenophobic dog whistling that is going on at the moment.

HOW EFFING DARE THEY go after the soft target of Islamic women wearing head coverings. How effing dare they. We went through this ten years ago. Not again. How dare they stir up the rednecks and the bigots. Yeah, go on, inflame the "Fit in or Fuck off"crew. That's right. Even though the law didn't get though our Attorney General tried to change the laws because "everybody has the right to be a bigot."

Absolutely livid. It's enough to make me want to leave here and never come back.

For those outside of Australia, our backward, luddite, different hating, fascist regime have placed a ban on women wearing the burqa in Parliament House. Actually, no, it's not that, they will be segregated and placed in the glassed off gallery. It's this new form of government which inflames the idiots and the bigots and makes life even harder for Muslim women.

Okay, I do get that you want to know who people are when they go into Parliament House - but just like an airport, do a security check, let them pass and let them, whoever they are, get on with their business.

Just for clarification, the burqa is different to the hijab, the niqab and the chador. Here's a point of reference.

Picture courtesy of

Rednecks look at a woman with a scarf over her head and see her as a soft target.

How dare these backward hicks inflame this situation. If a woman wants to wear a burqa, she should be able to, where ever, when ever. Yes, if you're going into Parliament House, you need to prove your identity - like at an airport. Like how many women have tried to smuggle in weapons into Parliament House - or anywhere under their burqa?

We live in a polytheistic, secular society. This singling out of one group is completely unacceptable. Even more unacceptable when our Prime Moron, also the Minister Responsible for Keeping Women Tied to the Kitchen Sink came out and says "I find the burqa confronting. I wish it didn't get worn."

He finds the burqa confronting. I find this confronting.

A middle aged man in speedos - far more confronting that any woman in a burqa. Especially when it's a dangerous idiot like this.

I'm over this women in your place shit. I'm especially over this xenophobic, Islamophobic dog whistling. That it's being trumped up in the Murdoch media, even worse.

Women make up 51% of society. How come five men are king hit and everybody is up in the air about it. Up until today, 59 women have been killed by their partners this year, a by product of domestic violence. Why is nothing being done about this? Why are these domestic figures just passed off as something that happens? Why is a woman's worth less than a mans? Figures from

This inequality is absolute crap.

Oh, and while I'm here, I want to come out in full understanding of my Muslim friends, for the unequivocal right to wear what they want, when they want, wherever they are. I come at this with full support, love and acceptance. #WISH (Women in Support of Hijabis)

Okay. I've got that off my chest. I've been stewing all day. Inequality and bullying make me sick to the stomach.

Okay, so what I was supposed to be blogging about.

Abs Challenge: Done (20 sit ups, 10 crunches, 10 leg raises, 12 second plank)
I'm sipping on a green juice of spinach, cucumber, celery, green apple and mint.
I've thrown out: An old laptop case, went through my make up bag and tossed a heap of stuff I never wear, went through the medicine cabinet and tossed everything out of date, found some other toiletries I never use to be binned. Also donated two old pairs of glasses to the Lions Club via OPSM. the Lions Club recycle the frames.

I also made small work of the punching bag at the gym tonight. We call our punching bag Tony Abbott. He got hammered tonight.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day One: The Clean Up My Life Challenge

Some days you wake up and you want to see some improvements in your life. You feel like the time for a revolution has come and you’ll do anything to do it. It’s like you want to see real change  - which you know only happens when you put in small, incremental changes in your life. There’s a rush of energy when you know that you’re working towards something.

This appears to have happened this morning.

Pandora is going to revolutionise her life. Well that is the plan.

I know there’s a lot going on at the moment. I’m four weeks into my first Master’s subject. I started a new role at a large telecommunications firm on Monday – a gig which will be as challenging as it is boring  - but at least I've made a mate and there is work that will keep me busy. Thankfully I don’t have any big bills this month, though there is Christmas and the joys of my income protection insurance to pay – mandatory to have as a contractor.

No, the time has come to really have a big clean out in my life – get things back on track. Make a bit of room for all sorts of things. Get rid of the stuff that never gets used, never gets worn, never will be read again, gets looked at or saved for a rainy day some years ago and is still sitting around the place. This is not to say I’m a hoarder – but really, why do I have all of these gift bags, saved for a rainy day? Or why do I have so many pairs of boots when I really only wear three pairs with any regularity?

So Clean up Challenge Number One: Dispose of at least five things every day for the month of October. This might seems a bit brutal, but I reckon this is an achievable goal. Gives me something to write about too. Whether disposal means bin, send to the Salvos, shove on Ebay for sale or give away, it’s a good goal. Made a bit more pertinent, my landlord is threatening to renovate my bathroom in the near future and I need to get the place nice for Craig the tradie. Not sure when this is happening, but it’s a good time to start spring cleaning.

The next challenge is an exercise one. Now that the weather is better, the goal is to walk to or from work at least have the time – either in or out. I’m lucky. I live about 45 minutes walk from the front door of work. This is doable – as long as it’s not raining, it means that I get exercise. Five times during the working week. Shouldn’t be a too hard a challenge.

The other exercise challenge I’m setting myself is the 30 day Abs Challenge. Jay, my training partner has done this twice now and if she can do it (and she’s like 9 years older than me) I can do it. Wouldn't let anybody do this – my abs are in reasonable shape, even if they’re covered in a bread basket of lard. I managed an eight minute plank a few weeks ago. This is different. Three days on, one day off you have a set number of sit ups, crunches, leg raises and a timed plank at the end of it  - starts off easy and ends up a bit insane. But it’s a few minutes out of the day and if Jay can do it like twice, I can do it once.

There’s a financial goal for the month – save $300 a week. I need to get on top of my tuition fees for next year (which reminds me, must send back that tax form) as well as save for a holiday which will be well needed by February next year. Again, it’s an achievable goal – make a bit easier with me having no big bills for the month. Even better if it gets me into some regular savings, something I’m okay at, but nowhere near as good as I should be.

As for the health goal, I've putting myself on a green juice challenge. We've all been hearing about how good green juices are for the body, knowing that I need to get more green stuff into my body, I bought myself a Nutribullet a few weeks ago. A great decision. So every day I’m up for a green drink of some descriptions. My current favourites are spinach, cucumber, celery, mint and apple – though beetroot, pineapple, celery, apple and ginger are good too. I’m curious to see how this impacts upon my health.

Thanks enough for the moment – also gives me something to blog about in October – well something more than trying to write a literary short story for my Masters Course – my chosen topic being “The consequences and ramifications of “Comfort Womens” plight not being recognised, apologised to or compensated by the Japanese Government”. I’m currently wondering why I didn't decide to write about kittens and puppies.


Day One Update:

Walked to and from work - that makes it four times this week already.
Green Juice: Spinach, celery, mint, cucumber and half and apple.
Ab Challenge: Done (15 sit ups, 5 crunches, 8 leg raises, 10 second plank)
Five things thrown out - including all but two pairs of wooden chopsticks that have been sitting at the back of my utensil drawer for the last five years, a couple of fans from a friends wedding, some rags and a heap of takeaway menus from shops that aren't there any more.