31 December 2014

That Time of Year

Once again, and far faster than I'd imagined it, here we are at the end of the year. As I write, we have another sixteen hours until we'll all be wishing each other a happy New Year.

I find it interesting and funny that because of the calendar we use, we have this arbitrary date that ends one year and starts another, and because of this we feel impelled to look at improving ourselves and making resolutions, many of which we'll have broken within a few days.

In 2015 I intend to do more of the things that make me feel happy, positive, creative and content and less of the things that don't.

By my standards (and they're the ones that count for me), I've had a productive 2014 in writing, which makes me feel good, and I want to keep on feeling that way. I think it's been productive because I set some reasonable goals that also stretched me. I didn't set them at the beginning of the year, but chose a time that worked for me - part-way through November last year, if you're interested!

It felt good to achieve those goals, and feeling good about yourself is a great thing. We need to do it more often. Because I achieved those targets I've made the stretch a bit more this time. I'll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime have a great end of 2014 and happy New Year.

Note: If you're interested in previous posts about goals you can read them here and here.

22 December 2014

Things I Love About Summer

With just a few days to go until Christmas this may seem like a funny post, but here in the Southern Hemisphere we're enjoying long summer days, and so I thought I'd write down a few of the things I love about summer (in no particular order):

Strawberries (and other summer fruit, but strawberries are my favourite)
Outdoor gatherings with family and friends
Long lingering daylight evenings
Pohutukawa trees in bloom
Ice cream
The luxurious feeling of cruisy days because it's too hot to rush around
Wandering around the house and garden (or beach) barefoot
Out door films/events
Walks on the beach (they're great all through the year but especially in summer) 
Daisy chains
Driving around with all the car windows open
Reading at the beach or park (reading anywhere to be honest!)
Smell of freshly cut grass, honeysuckle and jasmine
Cool breeze on a hot day
Easy BBQ and salad meals

And lots more.

Last night we went to a carol service being held in a local reserve (park). It was wonderful to sit out on picnic rugs enjoying the sunset and singing together.

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere takes some getting used to if all you've known is Northern Hemisphere snowy celebrations. At the moment all the windows and doors are open, and it's still hot. I feel a little sorry for the shopping mall Santas dressed in their warm red robes while the rest of us are in t-shirts and shorts.

The schools have just shut down for the long summer break, which means Christmas and New Year holidays tend to stretch well into January as families head off to the beach. We have to wait longer in the evenings to enjoy the Christmas lights and many of the words to traditional Christmas songs don't really make too much sense for Christmas here, but I can handle that as I enjoy summer.

20 December 2014

The times they are a changin'

At the moment I'm back working in the city in one of the high-rise office blocks. High-rise in Auckland isn't as tall as many other cities, and usually equates to around thirty floors. I'm on a floor halfway up with a great view of the harbour. The building is close to St. Matthews church, and from my window I look out at the top of the tower.

You get a different perspective of the city from that height, and I guess when the church was built in the first few years of the 1900s it would have been one of the tallest buildings in the city. Now, the church is dwarfed by many of the bland office blocks.

The only constant is change, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but change nevertheless.

Language is another of those things that is constantly evolving. Flicking through an Enid Blyton book recently, I was reminded of frocks and sixpences, and a world that no longer existed even when I first marvelled at the Faraway Tree and wanted to go on adventures with the Famous Five.

Text talk and abbreviations seem to be a totally different language, but I remember comments my parents made about my teenage-self and friends and our conversation, and then I think of some of my favourite Shakespeare quotations. It's the same language, but very different.

16 December 2014

Book Launches and Writing Events

At this time of year most social events seem related to Christmas, but I've been fortunate to have attended two great events over the past few days that had absolutely nothing to do with bearded man in the red suit.

On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending a book launch for Vivienne's Blog, written by a good friend and critique buddy. It was a brilliant evening and actress Penny Ashton was in amazing form as she read three extract's from the book. Graham Beattie wrote about the launch and also reviewed Vivienne's Blog.

Several weeks ago, through the NZ Society of Authors, I heard that Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn would be visiting Auckland and would like to meet up with some local writers. Was I interested? Oh yes!  I've followed Joanna's blog and podcasts for some time and also have some of her books, and am in awe of her energy and output. 

Joanna modestly said she expected to meet up with about five or six people in a coffee shop. Today's event was held in Auckland's Central library and was attended by about 75 people (total guess but it seemed about that number!) Joanna is a lively presenter with a great sense of humour and lots of information and advice on this amazing publishing adventure that soaks up most of my waking hours.

In addition, there was a talk and demonstration by Craig from Booktrack on using their software to add soundtracks and effects to books and short stories. This was fascinating and definitely something I'll be investigating over the Christmas holidays.

Huge thanks to Joanna, Booktrack and Auckland Central Library for a great event. Afterwards there was time for questions and networking - it's amazing the amount of noise that a group of introverted writers can make! 

02 December 2014

Recipe for a Dinner Party

A short note to point you in the direction of the lovely Amy Spahn who has written an essay on the style and narration of my short story Recipe for a Dinner Party.

Amy has done an amazing job of making me sound a lot more intelligent than I feel, and for that she earns my heartfelt thanks.

Pop over and take at look at this and many other thought-provoking posts.