Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Country-Specific Expressions - Are they a problem?

Lady Gaga almost-nearly-sort-of put her foot in it on her recent visit to Australia. She went on a huge rant about the Australian Prime Minister and her stance against gay marriages, thinking that the Australian Prime Minister is herself homosexual. When it was explained to her that Australians will often refer to a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend as their 'partner', she recanted her rant and softened it a little bit. I, myself, refer to my boyfriend as my partner, because I don't feel the term 'boyfriend' is strong enought for our committment to each other.

This has made me really thoughtful about my writing. In Australia we have so many strange expressions of speech. For example, we ask a lot of questions we don't really expect to be answered. We might say: "How hard it is raining?", or "Cor, how muscly are you?". For us it's an expression, an exclamation. Many poor Brits and Americans try to answer these strange statements. My writing is, no doubt, peppered with such statements and Australianaisms.

So here's my concern. Should I cut all those out as much as possible, or should I leave them in as an expression of who I am as a writer? I do not want to risk alienating an international audience. At the same time, I want to stay true to myself.

High Summer Read-A-Thon 25.07.11 to 31.07.11 UPDATE

Okay, so I missed a starting point post with the High Summer Read-A-Thon because I was stuck in bed with the flu. Looking at a computer screen was far too painful. On the bright-side, I was able to burn through one and a third Harry Potter books, which I have vowed to re-read. (I was 12 when I first started reading them. I can't believe it's been so long since I read them, it feels like it was only yesterday!) 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Done and dusted!(but I started a wee bit early!)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 94 pages
'The Real Middle Earth', by Brian Bates: 1 Chapter (around 6 pages)

I had also wanted to keep listening to The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo for my Tuesday Book Talk, but the audio player from the library seems to be playing up :(

I am very excited about the opportunity to spend a week reading till my heart's content!

Monday, July 18, 2011

High Summer Read-A-Thon 25.07.11 to 31.07.11

Ok, so I have taken the plunge and signed up for my very first Read-A-Thon. These things are bad for me, because there is so much out there that I want to read. Also, I have just placed myself on a permanant book-buying ban (my local library foolishly told me I can borrow an unlimited number of books!). I plan to read and read and read and read and read. 

The books I would love to finish during this week are:
  • 'The Real Middle Earth', by Brian Bates
  • 'The Shadow Queen', by Anne Bishop.
I would also ideally like to begin a new book that I have never read before, but have lying around. I will have to update on this later, after I have had time to snoop around on my bookshelves!

Happy reading everybody!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writers - The Starving Artists (Some Tips For Saving Money)

I don't like to harp on about money too much - I find it a devastatingly dull conversational piece. But I can't hide from the giving up my fairly-well paying career so that I could focus my energies on my writing, I simply do not have the disposable income I once had. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The fact that I'm happier and healthier is vindication enough for my pre-mid-life-crisis. And so I find that I have to live off a tight budget. For those of you who have just made the leap into writerdom, or are considering it, here are some of the money-saving ideas that I have found to be the most effective for me:

1. Five Dollar Meals - Essentially this is a rule that means I can't (or won't) spend more than $5 on a meal. This means that, when I am cooking, if I spend $20 on ingredients, the food needs to have at least four servings. Now, keep in mind that it's a maximum of $5, I usually aim for about $2 - $3 per serve for a home cooked meal. This involves lots of slow-cooked cheap cuts of meat, lots of rice, and lots of imagination.

This rule also counts if I forget to bring my lunch to work, or I am running late and need to buy breakfast on the go. I get really, really uspet with myself if I have to buy both breakfast and lunch. Including a coffee, I will not spend more than $5 for either of these meals. That's the tough one - coffee these days costs at least $4, especially as I have soy milk, so I have to really want a coffee if I am going to buy one. I have had to learn to live with the instant coffee that my boss provides me with.

And if you're out to dinner with friends? This is a tough one. Usually I know in advance that I am going to have to splurge on a night out, so I will really tighten the belt in the week leading up to the aforementioned dinner. This means absolutely no coffees, and sandwiches from a $1.09 loaf of bread from Coles. Not overly appetising, but I enjoy the dinner with friends all the more for it.

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2. Five Dollars a Wear - This is a rule given to me by a friend, only she had a $10 a wear rule. If you are going to buy an item of clothing, it should work out to be at least $5 a wear. So, if you buy an $80 dress, it needs to be worn 20 times. I have to admit, this rule is easy for me to follow as I don't tend to bother with fashion, and so I apply it to spontaneous purchases as well. For example, I will not buy a book for $20 if I am only going to get a day or two out of it -  that's what libraries are for.

I sometimes cheat with this rule. For example, I have a friend's wedding coming up and she is very particular. The day is really important to her, and it is a social faux pas to wear a dress to a wedding that everyone has already seen. After weeks of searching I bought a very nice dress for $80 that I will probably only wear 3 or 4 times. To be able to afford it, I didn't drink coffee for a month.

3. Utilise Lay-By - this one is to help with idea number 2, and is something I only recently discovered. I recently bought a ring for myself in memorandum for my Nan, who I lost to cancer a few months ago (with little forget-me-not flowers on it, which we used to gather together). I paid $5 a week until the ring was paid off, THEN I got the ring. This meant that I had to really, really want the ring, as the luster wears off a bit after waiting so long when the purchase is not something you really need. As it happens, I haven't had even the briefest moment of regret.

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4. Ease Off the Gas - I discovered that I get an extra day's worth of petrol if I don't 'floor-it' when driving. When you ease up to the speed limit, you use less petrol. I have a granny-mobile so this can be really tough to do. It takes me so much longer than everyone else to reach the speed limit even when I do stomp on the accelerator. And so I crank up the music and bop along, refusing to look at the speedometer and how slow I am going. This does not mean you have to drive slowly - I don't. I am just not in as much of a rush to reach the speed limit as I used to be. Once I reach the speed limit I travel at the same pace as everyone else. Disclaimer: sorry to all those folks who drive on the same roads as me.

I am still fairly new to this whole saving money palaver. I would love to know anyone else's tips and tricks that I can try!

Friday, July 1, 2011

What An Exciting Month!

Wow, I can't believe how quickly June has sped past! So much has happened and I feel I need to stop and catch my breath back.

I have been writing solidly on my novel throughout June, thanks to a brilliant idea I had. It's really simple - instead of writing in a word processor, which I need access to my lap top for, I am writing to an email account created specifically for my WIP. This means that, no matter where I am, I can make use of the 5 to 10 minutes I have where I am waiting in a line or sitting idly. My productivity has increased so much that I am really blown away by how far I have come. This has also made editing easier, because I am forced to re-read what I have written as I copy and paste into my word-processor.

In other news, I have compeleted my first semester of Post-Graduate studies, and have passed with flying colours. It really goes to show that I can achieve anything if I really put my mind to it.

I am currently taking baby-steps towards re-branding myself, the writer. I am currently in negotiations with my Marketing Guru about the best steps to take, and the image I want to portray. This is really exciting because I feel like I now have the right to call myself a writer, rather than keeping it my dirty little secret. 

And so, the last six months have been an incredible journey for me. My decision to change career paths, from Secondary Teacher to Writer Extraordinaire, is coming along in leaps and bounds. I copped a lot of criticism for giving up a career that I didn't feel suited my personality, and I now feel vindicated in my decision. I have truely loved networking with other writers and hearing about their own journeys, which sound so similar to my own.

So far, this year gets the big ole thumbs up from me!