ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review - Memories of Murder, Yolanda Renee

Hello there, book lovers. Greetings from Spain! 

Spending many hours on planes helps with the reading. I have been reading blogger e-books in my travel downtime. Today I'm reviewing Yolanda Renee's Memories of Murder, the second in her Detective Steven Quaid murder mystery series. I don't know how many people will be reading blogs after the joys of Christmas feasts, but here we go...


Thanks to Armchair Squid who organises the monthly book reviews. The idea of the Coffeehouse is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same.  In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.  Please join us:

An Amazon review is more helpful than a blog review, so being short of time as I travel, I first wrote the Amazon/Goodread's review and am pasting an updated version below. 



The second in the series of the Detective Quaid Mysteries kept me riveted throughout. I'd enjoyed meeting the characters, artist Sarah Palmer and Detective Steven Quaid in the first book, Murder, Madness and Love, and found Yolanda Renee's writing style to be fast and furious as she takes the reader on a whirlwind ride as Sarah and Steven attempt to overcome obstacles to their relationship. This time the settings include Paris!

It is often a cliche to say you couldn't put a book down, but that is how these books affected me. I was often annoyed with Sarah's decisions in the first book, feeling her desire to be independent put herself and those around her at risk, and Sarah's independence continues to be a plot mover in the second book which I have just finished. Will the damage and pain she has suffered in the past allow her to accept help from those around her?

In Memories of Murder there is the ghastly spectre of Lucifer, the all-to-real demon who haunts Sarah's dreams, turning them into nightmares that she paints in an effort to make sense of what she is experiencing. Lucifer's desire is to have Sarah, and it is Detective Steven Quaid's mission to find Lucifer before he kills any more innocent victims on his quest to have Sarah. At times the macabre scenes are repugnant, so be prepared for blood and gore in the demonic rituals. (Side note: Yolanda adds explanations for these rituals at the end of her book).

Despite the gruesome machinations of Lucifer, the love story between Steven and Sarah is the central theme of the book. Their on-again of-again relationship is frustrating for the reader who just wants them to get over their distrust, their misunderstandings, their insecurities and their careers which put obstacles in the way of their relationship. There are those who seek to steal their love - Scott Chase is still determined to have Sarah, and Alice the Terrible, who was brought into the case as a professional to supposedly help Sarah, does everything she can to keep Steven away from Sarah and to have Steven for herself. What is annoying is that both Steven and Sarah allow themselves to be manipulated by those around them and believe the worst of each other, even though they love each other deeply. 


All through the novel with its central plot and sub plots, the reader wonders - will Sarah survive? Will Lucifer be brought down? Will Sarah and Steven come to trust each other enough to allow their love to win over all? How will such a driven couple ever let their love take precedence over their careers?

Read Memories of Murder to find out how/if they work their way through the obstacles.



About this author
I really wanted to be a drummer, or a race car driver. Obviously I'm neither, but they are on my bucket list, that and owning my very own fire breathing dragon!

I've always loved books and it was through books that I escaped and experienced all the things I'd only been able to dream about - through the stories, the characters, and the places created by talented authors. From Caroline Keene, Judy Bolton, Agatha Christie, Harold Robbins, Danielle Steele, and my all time favorite Stephen King. Now I read K J Larsen , Jennifer Hillier, Joanie McDonell, Maryann Miller, J D Robb, well, pretty much everyone and anyone who gets their words in front of me! I LOVE BOOKS!

I've always been a writer, always loved making things up - a crazy imagination is a good thing - or is it just being crazy?

You decide!(less)



  • I have lots of Amazon Gift Cards to put to good use, so if you can recommend a great e-book for me to buy, please do so!
  • Have you read Yolanda's Detective Quaid series? What did you think?
  • Thinking about New Year's resolutions? Sign up now for Write...Edit...Publish's January challenge - NEW BEGINNINGS.

There is a full list of the next 6 month's WEP challenges in my side bar and on the WEP site.




Monday, 23 December 2013

Test Your Christmas IQ - something fun for Christmas!

Happy Holiday Season Everyone!

Greetings from Malaga, Spain.



I hope your holidays are going well (if you are actually on holidays!) or you're able to chill a little at this time of year. Hope you're travelling safe if, like me, you're on the road or in the air. I've had a great time so far - Amsterdam, Paris, Prague and Spain, with Portugal and Morocco still to come, before flying back to Paris then home to Oz, which hopefully will have most of its hot summer weather out of the way. Just kidding. It will be hot until at least the end of February.

Meanwhile I came across this quiz in an EasyJet magazine on the flight to Prague. I enjoyed it and thought I'd share it with you. With thanks to Jack Palfrey and Sam Pothecary.


TEST YOUR CHRISTMAS IQ



Can you spot the festive falsehoods?
I hope yule love it...

TRUE or FALSE?


  1. Scientists say Rudolph's red nose is because of infection. T/F
  2. Santa Claus wears red to symbolise Jesus turning water into wine. T/F
  3. The 'true love' mentioned in 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' refers to God. T/F
  4. Kissing under the mistletoe references an affair between Vidarr, the Norse God of the forest, and Elli, the goddess of old age. T/F
  5. Crackers originally symbolised an assassination attempt on Pope Julius 111 in 1752. T/F
  6. In Poland, spiders and spiders' webs are common decorations. T/F
  7. Stockings come from the Hungarian tradition of washing socks on 24 December. T/F
  8. The Swedish made the first artificial trees out of dyed pheasant feathers. T/F
  9. 120 million Christmas trees are grown each year in Europe. T/F
  10. Christmas pudding was originally a thick soup with raisins and wine in it. T/F
  11. Presents used to be wrapped to prevent rats from eating them. T/F
  12. Workers in Spain get a Christmas bonus of one month's salary by law. T/F
  13. In Serbia, Santa is a woman who gives the children a kiss while they're sleeping. T/F
  14. In the Middle Ages, the traditional Christmas meal in England was pig's head and mustard. T/F
  15. In Estonia, the festive meal is a stew made from seal meat and chestnuts. T/F
  16. Since 1947, Oslo has sent a Christmas tree to London to thank the British for their help in World War 11. T/F
  17. The first bit of music played in space was 'Jingle Bells'. T/F
  18. Christmas is the most common time of year for couples to break up. T/F
  19. Christmas trees are fed dried banana peels during germination to help them develop their deep green colour. T/F
  20. In Russia, it's considered unlucky to give teddies as presents, because bear attacks are common in wintertime. T/F

HOW DID YOU GO?


 15-20 YOU ARE SANTA, THE RIGHTFUL OVERLORD OF CHRISTMAS. You scoff in the face of any mere mortal who asks you which winter berries to add to a mince pie. Travelling a mere 510,000,000km on Christmas Eve is no problem so long as there's a glass of eggnog waiting for you when you get home.

8-14 YOU ARE RUDOLPH. Unfortunately, your ruminant mammal brain prohibits you from absorbing all things Christmassy, but 365 days a year under Santa's guidance has given you some basic wisdom.

0-7 YOU ARE SCROOGE. Christmas isn't your thing. Your prefer high interest loans and Victorian workhouses. Try not to bah humbug your way through the festive season, retaining a certain amount of information is crucial if you want to become less of a grump.

ANSWERS

  1. TRUE
  2. FALSE
  3. TRUE
  4. FALSE
  5. FALSE
  6. TRUE
  7. FALSE
  8. FALSE
  9. FALSE
  10. TRUE
  11. FALSE
  12. TRUE
  13. FALSE
  14. TRUE
  15. FALSE
  16. TRUE
  17. TRUE
  18. TRUE
  19. FALSE
  20. FALSE 
  Thank you for coming by. Thank you to my followers and casual visitors who've read my blog for the past year/s. I hope you'll continue to visit me in the New Year. Meanwhile, have a wonderful holiday season and a happy, safe New Year.


Here's the happy couple chilling in the winter sun in Paris

Whether or not you make New Year's Resolutions, Write...Edit...Publish invites you to post on the topic NEW BEGINNINGS - maybe you have a flash fiction piece, a true story, some pictures...share with us! Sign up here....






Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Greetings from Paris. My Write...Edit...Publish entry - Feast of the 7 Fishes (Italy)

Hello everyone!

I am in Paris, enjoying my second Paris pre-Christmas season. Now the Christmas tradition in our family back home is to all gather together and celebrate this wonderful time of the year at the beach. In Australia it's always hot and humid in December, so most, but not all, have given up on the hot roast, preferring BBQ, prawns and cheesecake over the traditional fare enjoyed by those in the Northern Hemisphere.

So seeing as my holiday is mainly in Europe, I'm going to share an extract from a book I finished just before I flew out - The Garden of Evil by David Hewson, a favourite author. Hewson has been described as an author '...for those who like a sprinkling of culture with their crime thriller.' That would be me. I'd never come across this tradition before, so my Christmas Tradition tale is from glorious Italy, a very Catholic country!

The extract is from the protagonist Detective Nic Costa's, point of view. I have rearranged words so it makes more sense for the post. And in case you think I'm crazy posting while in Paris, this has been pre-scheduled before I flew out...


La Vigilia

The feast of the 7 fishes on Christmas Eve.

La Vigilia was already stealing over Rome; Christmas Eve, a pause from the rush and chaos of everyday life. 

The food: seven fishes. No real Roman ate meat at La Vigilia. It was always fish, by tradition seven types, one for every Catholic sacrament. 

On opening the door, a succession of aromas and fragrances wafted out from the kitchen, sending a strong sense of urgent hunger rumbling through Nic's stomach.

"What is this?" a guest asked.

"It's La Vigilia, Christmas Eve."

His invited guests sat around the long table in the dining room. Nic sat at the head, guiding them through the spread of food which his housekeeper had prepared. It seemed to grow with every passing minute; cold seafood salad, salt cod, mussels, clams, shrimps, a small lobster, then finally capitone, a large female eel, split into pieces and roasted in the oven wreathed in bay leaves. 

"This is obsene," someone cried.

He went to the kitchen and came back with a plate of sweet cakes and a bowl full of small presents wrapped in gold paper.

"Choose from the bowl," he said. "Then we take a little wine and go to Midnight Mass."

The cannon fired from the Castel Sant'Angelo.

He refilled their glasses with prosecco. "The cannon means that Midnight Mass is not far away. Another year navigated. Another year to come."

An extract from The Garden of Evil, David Hewson, Part 14, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

WORD COUNT: extract - 225



I hope you liked my entry for the WEP December TRADITIONS blogfest. To read more entries, click on the names in my right-hand sidebar.

Seeing as I'm in Paris, I will leave you with a classy photo of that gorgeous city.


Next stop...Spain.






Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Going to Pot in Amsterdam, and experiencing Anne Frank house...

Hello there!

Well I'm having a marvellous time in the Northern winter, how about you? America looks scary at the moment. 

When I was in Amsterdam there was the mighty wind storm. Thankfully it just lasted the day...the day we took a trip into the country. Got absolutely blown away every time we stepped outside, but on the bright side the windmills were turning. I think Amsterdam is definitely best visited in summer! Although the Christmassy feel was at times dazzling.


The view from our hotel

This was my first trip to Amsterdam, but of course I knew about the coffee shop culture. Still, nothing like seeing it for yourself.




Just a couple of coffee shops near our hotel. 

Loved the art everywhere...here in a little alley...


The best thing about Amsterdam is to just stroll around the streets and alleyways. So much to discover. So many niche shops. 

However, the highlight of my visit was always going to be to experience the Anne Frank huis (house). I left it until the last day as I knew it would depress me. It wasn't that depressing, just so poignant to think I was moving through the rooms of this little girl's home, seeing the blacked-out windows, feeling the claustrophobia of being shut in for two years. Photos weren't allowed for whatever reason, but I will show you the facade of the building which was obvious to the Nazis, being just another canal house. 

The little white plaque shows the entry door to the building which was a manufacturing warehouse during the war. The Annex where Anne Frank and her family and others were hiding is in the back of this building. You can see the canal homes from across the canal reflected in the windows. This is the bare chestnut tree Anne saw from the attic.

What the Nazis didn't know until some unknown betrayer told them, was that hidden behind a bookcase in the building, Jews were hiding out on two back floors and an attic. 

There are quotes from Anne's diary throughout The Annex, which add to the impact of the experience. 

In the words of Anne on 23 February, 1944...

"I go to the attic almost every morning to get the stale air out of my lungs. This morning when I went up there, Peter was busy cleaning up. The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swept through the air." 

The rooms were laid bare by the Nazis when they arrived that fateful morning to take them away, and Otto Frank, (Anne's father), the only survivor from those hiding out, didn't want it refurnished when the house was opened as a museum in 1960. He wanted this house to be a metaphor for all the Jews had lost during the time of Holocaust. Instead, he had a huge scale model made so visitors can see it as it was.

THE original Diary is on display, the one she was given on her thirteenth birthday, before they moved into The Annex. Anne's writing is everywhere behind glass. She also wrote short stories. She was planning on being a novelist when the war was over and was re-writing her diary when she was taken away. Writing kept her sane during the horrendous time. 

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived."                 April 5, 1944.



Sadly, her life was cut short. She died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp only one month before the end of the Nazi occupation. She believed all her family was dead, so gave up hope, according to her life-long friend who used to throw packages over the fence for Anne.

My most treasured possession from my trip will be the replica Anne Frank diary I bought. Lots of facts about Anne at the front, and lovely blank white pages thereafter. Not sure what I'll write in it yet... 

Standing looking towards Anne's house. She was denied this view throughout her incarceration. Geo is holding my precious diary in the style of Anne's.

After leaving the house, I just wanted to find a little hole somewhere and cry my eyes out...not just for Anne, but for all those who suffer and die in the name of prejudice, hate, greed and whatever motivates humans to turn on humans. Plenty of that still going on. As Marcus Zusak says through his narrator Death in the fabulous novel, The Book Thief, "I am haunted by humans."

But instead of moping, we walked along the canals through snowy scuds to the Van Gogh museum. How splendid was that! Many of his 800 paintings and drawings are on display over 3 floors. 

So now I have arrived in Paris and am taking photos of pretty things to recuperate, although France has plenty of war wounds.


Yesterday we visited the medieval city of Provins, north east of Paris. Was amazing. Today we're heading for Champs Elysee. Stay tuned for a Paris post before too long. Want more? I post nearly every day on facebook.

Meanwhile, it's hard promoting Write...Edit...Publish while on the move. I'd love you to sign up and share something about your Christmas/Holiday traditions...simple but uplifting maybe??


  • Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your experience?
  • Have you visited Anne Frank house? How did it affect you?
  • Have you read The Diary of Anne Frank? (It's published in 70 languages, so Anne got her wish to be a published author.)
  • If you enjoyed this post, please share...













Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group Post - December - Will I ever submit a manuscript?

Hello from Amsterdam! Brr..brr...Midsummer in Oz, to this...


Yeah, it's pretty cold up here!

Aren't I clever posting from The Netherlands! Well, I missed last month's IWSG post due to being flat out with NaNo, so I couldn't miss two in a row or Alex might strike me off the list.


Click here for more posts 

So what am I insecure about? Well, other than everything, I'm insecure about ever getting a manuscript ready to submit to a publisher, but the time is getting closer. I've nearly got one romance polished to distraction, and the story I wrote over this year's NaNo is pretty interesting -- an historical fiction set in Gallipoli, Ireland and Australia. Such fun to research. I'm nothing if not versatile. Due to the amount of research needed, I gave up on the word count and after writing 30k words, I continued to research.

I hope to post regularly on my travels. Will be in Amsterdam for two more days, then off to Paris for two weeks. During that time we will be visiting Prague, so that will be an exquisite first!


  • So, if you're published, self or traditional, how did you know when to let your baby loose on the world?
  • Join Write...Edit...Publish for the Christmas 'TRADITIONS' blogfest. What traditions do you follow over the holiday season? Post on December 18th, one week before Christmas Day.







Friday, 29 November 2013

A Thousand Days in Venice - #book review for The Cephalopod Coffehouse.

I'm about to head off for my next overseas adventure in a few days, so out of time. Therefore I'm re-posting a book review I wrote for the Reading at Dawn book review blog, for one of my favourite genres - travel memoir. I have quite a collection as you can imagine. Here is just one of my favourites...





And before I get underway, I must advise you that I use Grammarly for english proofreading because I really like the idea of Grammarly as a metaphor for sentinels standing guard over my writing, slashing and burning all those typos, spelling and punctuation errors and grammar mistakes, but obviously kind enough to overlook my mixed metaphors.

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi - a travel memoir


Travel memoirs are charming books that tell the often-enhanced travel stories of people just like us but who get to travel, then write about it, then travel some more...and write about it. Now that's Utopia...to me! 

Another much-loved fiction author is the effervescent Italian, Adrianna Trigiani, who has this to say - "The great Marlena de Blasi writes fairy tales for grown ups." Well, this book, and others that Marlena has since written, are my kind of fairy tale.

A Thousand Days In Venice is a charming story about love found late in life and straight away the story will resonate with many readers. Marlena is a divorced American chef who decides to leave her material possessions and America behind and travel to Venice, Italy, and lo and behold she finds love with a "blueberry-eyed Venetian." At first she thinks she is too old for romantic love and intimacy and wants to run away, but is inexplicably drawn into a romance which would seem to most, utterly impossible. 

Marlena chooses to take a risk, to follow her heart and venture out into a world of new possibilities. She leaves her well-established life in the U.S, two grown children and a beautiful home in St. Louis to begin a new life with a Venetian she calls "the stranger..." 

...which I thought was a bit strange. It bothered me how she called this man, Fernando, "The Stranger," not just when she first met him, but throughout most of the book. Maybe she thought it added to the strange allure of Venice, a city where the idea of meeting and making love to a stranger is folklore, especially during Carnavale.

Fernando, "The Stranger" is at times demanding in his wishes, which was strange since it was Marlena who was making the big changes, not him. He really wasn't the one giving up anything. He was also rather controlling in day-to-day living, just as you would expect of the stereotypical pampered adult male Mumma's boy used to getting what he wants. He imposes his wishes on her and expects her to conform, yet you can tell Marlena isn't the type who would usually be pushed around by a man. I'm glad I gritted my teeth at his at times mincing habits as he did change later as the relationship developed.

As you can imagine, this is a mammoth crossroads in Marlena's life and she turns to her best friend Misha for advice. As Marlena is struggling with her feelings about this new-found love and discussing the ramifications with Misha she receives some poignant advice:

"Now that it has presented itself to you, could you dare to imagine turning away form it for anything or anyone?" 

Misha tells of love she has once known:

"I was afraid that the sentiments would change. I was afraid of some form of betrayal and so I walked away. I betrayed it before it could betray me. And maybe I thought life inside that intensity would suffocate me. So I chose a sort of pleasant, safe compromise, an emotion less than passion and more than tolerance. Isn't that what most of us choose?"

Don't most of us more often than not choose the "safe road" in our lives?  Doing a Robert Frost and choosing 'the road less travelled' can be a scary thought and there are not many of us that have the stomach for it. I've read other memoirs of 50-somethings who run away from their life, find another country, find another man, and live either happily or confusedly ever after (check our the Australian Mary Moody's books on escaping to France. Hot. Hot. Hot.) Marlena's story was bringing up conflicting emotions for me as I both admired her for it, and felt maybe she was a little crazy for it too, especially with 'The Stranger' who I know I couldn't live with for a minute! But, ah, Venice I could live with forever!

Marlena de Blasi has a very descriptive writing style which is beautiful and lush. She takes you right into the streets of Venice. You can smell and see the foods that she describes with her chef's eye and palate and I could visualise myself walking down those same fascinating streets or sitting by the Adriatic Sea. (I've since visited Venice and followed in Marlena's footsteps but I took my own non-'stranger' with me.) There were many thoughtful and insightful paragraphs that grabbed me in this book. Marlena. de Blasi makes you ponder choices in life and imagine wonderful worlds of possibilities that might just be in reach after all. But possibly more so in Venice than anywhere else, seeing as it is one of the most fascinating and romantic cities in the world.

This was the first book of Marlena de Blasi's that I had read. I've since read all her travels through Italy - Tuscany and Umbria. Beautiful. Exciting. Being a chef, she has written at least two cookbooks on regional Italian food. 


  • Would you like to be swept off your feet by an unexpected romance?
  • Would you give up your home country for your new love? 
  • Do you enjoy reading travel narratives? Tell me about them...
And if you'd like to share your Christmas/Holiday Traditions with the writers at Write...Edit...Publish, go here to sign up! Or you can sign up in my right-hand sidebar. All entries most welcome! 





Thursday, 21 November 2013

Write...Edit...Publish 'SHARING'. LOVE AND TRAVEL.

Hi fellow travellers in this theatre called life. For WEP's SHARING I'm comparing love and travel. I fly north to experience another Northern Hemisphere holiday season in just a few days. Naturally, travel is where my mind is. 

This trip...Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Spain, Portugal and Morocco - 5 exciting weeks! 

Here's what I've learned so far re travel and love...

PHASE ONE: 
ANTICIPATION

When it comes to travel, thinking about it, planning it, is half the fun.

ANTICIPATION is a crucial phase of any journey. It's the promise that life will be more exciting than your everyday routine. Watching a sunset over the Sahara Desert, choosing which outdoor cafe to indulge your love of freshly-caught mussels in garlic cream sauce in the French Quarter in Paris, seeing the fairytale city of Prague for the first time, is probably going to be more fun than getting out of bed, running in the park, walking to work, working...isn't it just? 

We want the same thing from travel that we want from love - a life-changing encounter with destiny. Plus fantastic scenery and food.

'Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'                 (Mark Twain (1835-1910


The streets of Marrakesh
just made for exploring.

PHASE TWO:
PACKING

Getting there won't be half the fun if you are lugging too much luggage! If it won't fit into your carry-on luggage, leave it at home.

LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE is not fun, but it's even less fun when it's the old cram, sit, zip scenario. 
Here are some of my tips for light travel:

  • plan to dress as if you're heading out to the store on Saturday morning. That's the kind of comfort you need when travelling. 
  • plan to wear every article of clothing multiple times. There's no room in your luggage for superfluous clothes. (They do have laundries overseas.) 
  • discover how little you really need in order to have the time of your life. Travel is not a fashion show - the people you meet will usually only see you in your outfit once! Let them screw up their nose at your fashion sense in that's all they've got to do!

A Lady's List

A small flask of brandy
Smelling salts
Light literature
Cushions covered in chintz or satin for putting under the feet
Suede gloves in Summer
Woolen muffatees in Winter
Fine yellowish brown paper to line the drawers of inns: There is something not particularly tempting in the idea of placing one's possessions in a place where one does not know what preceded them.         

Lillias Campbell Davidson - 'Hints to Lady Travellers at Home and Abroad'. (1889)

I can delete everything on that list except 'light literature' in the form of my Kindle, lol!

PHASE THREE:
ARRIVAL!

ARRIVING in a new place is a lot like love at first sight. The way a traveller feels on the first day of a journey, the first day in a new country, a new city. You feel giddy, gullible, stupid. 

Travel author Vivian Swift recounts arriving in Paris in 2005 - "There is no smoking allowed in the airport terminal," she said in perfect French to the woman who'd lit up a Marlboro. 
The woman looked at her sharply - "Zeez deestarib you?" In other words who could object to a little cigarette smoke, for God's sake? She drops the butt to the floor and crushes it with the leather toe of her tiny Roger Vivier ballerina flat. 
I could kiss her, Vivian recounts, for now I know that I have really and truly arrived in Paris!

Oh yes! Bring it on!

Another view from the Eiffel Tower

Sorry, it gives me vertigo too!

Love and travel both begin with a secret wish for a life with more adventure, more passion. But things can go wrong, as they do. Be prepared. But there's nothing bad about getting lost, you just discover more! Getting lost in Venice is a highlight of my life!

MOST ROMANTIC TRAVEL QUOTE EVER:

Much have I travell'd in realms of gold, and many goodly states and kingdoms seen, round many western islands have I been...felt I like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken: or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes he star'd at the Pacific - and all his men look'd at each other with wild surmise - silent, upon a peak in Darien.                      

John Keats (1795-1821)

LEAST ROMANTIC TRAVEL QUOTE EVER:

I came. I saw, I conquered.                    Julius Caesar (100BCE-44BCE)

With many thanks to:
Vivian Swift's Le Road Trip - A Traveler's Journal of Love and France.




And here is a photo taken in Broome, Western Australia, if any of you should aspire to visit our shores Down Under. Rather amazing, right?

What are your philosophies on travel? Share...
Click on the links in my right-hand sidebar for entries after the 22nd. 








Friday, 1 November 2013

COLOUR - Choosing a colour to suit your brand. What colour are you?

Hello fellow bloggers!

Well, Halloween's over. The HAUNTING blogfest was excellent. Now I have to decide which story intrigued me most for the $10 Amazon Gift Card. Thank you to all the participants! What great quality stories, poems and photos!

Yes, I'm huddled away beginning my latest NaNovel, but I love blogging so much I decided not to take a hiatus;  rather I prepared a few posts ahead of schedule. I will come by after I put in my writing hours and comment.
Today I'm going to share something with you that I've been pondering awhile. I keep changing my blog look because I'm never happy with my colours. That has partly been because I'm a pink girl, and haven't wanted to shout that out too loudly in case those of you who are deep, dark and serious take one look and run! Egad!
I've finally stopped toying with pink and embraced my favourite colour (which is closely followed by white and blue). I've worked up a collage for my new header which says it all - I love Pink. Hope you like it.
WHY DO BLOGGERS USE SUCH VARIED COLOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THEIR BLOGS?
Look around you at the different colours that represent various bloggers in the community. We have Roland Yeoman's black, Donna Hole's yellow, Alex J Cavanaugh's blue, J. L. Campbell's pinkish tones, Yolanda Renee's brown (now she's gone and changed some of it!) Somehow these colours just seem right for these bloggers. Why? If they read this, I hope they'll tell us!
Colour selection is one of the key elements of building a strong brand. Every colour has a different feel and associations. By choosing a colour or a combination of colors for your brand, you will take on those associations. Colours will evoke certain emotions and feelings towards your brand so it's vital to choose a colour that will represent your identity effectively.
There's been a ton of research on this topic, and I can but scratch the surface today. It has been shown that people make a subconscious judgement about a person, think...blog and other social media...within 90 seconds of their initial viewing. Between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone. Getting the message? Colour is HUGE! 
WHY COLOUR MATTERS
Where to start? Colour symbolizes your product, in this case you and your social media presence. By combining the same colours (usually two or three), your brand will be recognizable on any social media, very useful if you have a product to promote.
Have you heard of the great new tool to help with color selection--Cymbolism? It’s an interactive survey of colour and word associations. Every page loads a new word, for which you have to select a colour you feel best represents it. You can see most popular associations either by colour or by word in the image below.
To help you select the right colour for your brand, here are the results from Cymbolism, and there are some examples of brands that use each colour:

Now do you think this chart represents your colour choices? I decided my pink (belonging to the purple spectrum) pretty much describes me -- romantic (and a little bit Victorian, haha), decadent (with my love of chocolate and other sensuous things in life), elegant, stylish (hmm...in my dreams)...but overall, pink describes my personality pretty much to a T. 

Perhaps you align yourself with the brands who choose not to associate themselves with one colour. Instead of two or three colours, they choose four or more. This represents variety. These brands are usually platforms that host a vast amount of different applications or goods.
There are also two more colours that haven’t made it on the list: black and white. These are arguably not even colours, and they will go well with pretty much everything you choose. In Western culture, white is considered the colour of purity and peace, but in some parts of Asia white is the colour of death. However, cultural differences aside, on a social media platform white provides a clean background to add images/text to. (Many people prefer to read black text on a white background above all others.) Black is a heavy colour, but also complementary to many others. Used on a blog or other social media site it would suggest serious, deep and dark to all who come by.
HOW TO SELECT YOUR COLOUR
Look through the table above for a quick overview of what each colour represents. Of course, your opinion may differ. Some questions to ask yourself:
  • What colour represents me--thus your brand's personality?
  • What colour suits the characteristics of my product/service?
  • What colour will give my readers the best impression the first time they see it?
You aren’t limited to one colour. Some brands like eBay choose to go with many colors to represent variety — but you can also choose a couple of colours that work well together. I like pink, white and blue.
In the competitive world of colour selection, it is often suggested you pick a different colour than that of your competitors. If you are a romance writer, for example, nothing says it like pink, (unless of course you write dark paranormal romance etc.) so you will have to find something edgy so you don't blend homogeneously into the background. Find something to make your pink more alluring than all the others.
If you're interested in further reading on this topic, I've found some links. I haven't checked all of them recently, so some may be dead, but here are some tools and resources you may find useful:

Articles and Resources:

Tools:

Dimitry Fadeyev, A Guide to Choosing Colours for Your Brand, 2008

  • What do your colours say about you? 
  • Did you find this post helpful?









Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Write...Edit...Publish Halloweeen Blogfest - my entry HAUNTING, combined with Francine Howarth's Halloween Blogfest.

Welcome to creepy Halloween! There are many blogfests vying for attention. I am combining the Write...Edit...Publish blogfest with Francine Howarth's Trick or Treat Blogfest where you either give or receive free books. (In comments, say if you want your name to go into a hat to win a free book - say TREAT!)

Those who participate in the WEP blogfest will be competing for a $10 Amazon Gift card from yours truly (for the entry that catches my , and Francine is donating a free e-book to a participant.

Here is my creepy story...(sorry, I've been re-reading The Book Thief for the umpteenth time with my students, so I'm a little influenced by Death as narrator.) I'm sorry it's not exactly a fun entry, but there are some of them around...


Death has come to town. He arrives on runway 13A at midnight, thirteen minutes behind schedule. Despite the ferocious Twitter campaign demanding a new runway to deal with the increased traffic, the flight was late as usual. He couldn’t resist tweeting: #JFK #FLT307 #lateagain just for the pure heck of it.

He blends in with the weary commuters—squalling infants protesting painful ears and broken sleep, briefcases no doubt stuffed with duty free goods and hotel mini bar spirits, and myriad rackety suitcases squalling about just one trip too many. No one takes any notice of Death, no one senses his menace even though he mischievously brushes against as many unfortunate travellers as he can. What fun. Back in the swing of it again after the hiccup last time. He rubs his artificial leg. That will haunt him for the rest of his days, may they be long and eventful.

Death walks, lurching a little, protecting himself from the unseemly haste of humans desperate for their comfy bed, whether hotel or home. He has no baggage to collect; it would slow him down, but this night he can’t resist a little people watching as the weary souls await luggage collection at No 7 carousel. He stands in the vast, clattery room, surrounded by chattering children and the peculiar odour of those cooped together too closely on a thirteen-hour flight, watches them fighting over their luggage like chickens in the hen house pecking for grain. 

He could have done the deed earlier, on the plane, but that would have been too easy. And not according to plan. And, heck, he would have bit the dust too, or the ocean. Not ready for that sacrifice, but the time was coming. 

Gotta always stick to the plan. He studies the bed-ready faces, wishes he could tell them how lucky they are to be alive. How capricious is Death.

He follows the crowd to customs. A blind man could find his way simply by the noise and crush of humanity not at its best. The aromas from the coffee shop tantalize his olfactory glands, but he has no desire to indulge himself. He hardly recognises the place; it’s been so long since he visited, but this is just a quick in and quick out so it doesn’t bother him. No place is home any longer. The world is his stage. And he’s such an evil player. How delicious!

No one takes any notice as he passes by. Midnight eyes are blind, even those of the custom’s man, badged MARVIN. There are things that a sleep-deprived MARVIN, probably pulling a double shift, should have noticed. Just what was hidden beneath his long black coat? They do wonderful things with plastic these days. A body search would be in order, but he’s home free. Marvin missed an opportunity to be a hero, dead or alive.

Death shrugs and heads away from the passport-stamp-thumping desks, the babel of foreign languages, the wail of exhausted children. As he exits, he deliberately brushes a young lover caught in the act of whispering sweet nothings to whoever is on the receiving end of the phone. The young lover turns his shoulder towards Death, and continues his midnight electronic tryst. Oh, young man, I could finish you in a moment!

Now Death is out of doors. Humidity clutches his throat, the acrid smell of exhaust fumes threaten to overwhelm him. Then it begins to rain before his lungs are poisoned; it washes away the grime, turning the pavement into a slippery, oozy slush.

Death squints through the tumbling rain. A shaft of moonlight shimmers on the taxi roof, turned red by the neon sign poking its broken nose from the opposite side of the barrier. How strange. But it is a strange night. He checks over his shoulder, both directions. then wrenches open the nearest taxi door. The artificial smell of air freshener offends his sensibilities. The seat sags and he lurches into the middle. He smirks, imagining the lurching that people will be doing tomorrow…er, today.

“The Plaza Hotel,” he growls to the driver. The driver gives him the finger with his eyes, then pulls out into the stream of traffic. Death doesn’t glance behind. He feels hidden in the interior with its misty windows. He has more important things to think about. The plan must be perfectly executed. Ha, ha. Perfect choice of words.

Room 13  on (well, it should be 13!) the thirteenth floor is the perfect place to visit for his thirteenth act of terror.

Death has come to town.



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WORD COUNT: 758
General feedback please as this story is for this blogfest only.

Click on the WEP HAUNTED blogfest list in my right-hand sidebar to read other entries. Click on the TRICK OR TREAT badge to visit participants and to snaffle a book! 

Here are Francine's rules for both AUTHORS and VISITORS:


Authors: 

1) pop all the names of people who ask for a "TREAT" into a hat and choose a winner!
2)  Award a Kindle copy of the book/s featured to the winner

Visitors:

1) State in your comment whether you want your name popped into the author's hat.
2) Use your imagination for demanding your Treat! 









HAPPY HALLOWEEN!