Tag Archives: holiday

Writing retreat here I come!

It’s time to gloat a little. Tomorrow night I head off to a wonderful bed and breakfast along the coast here for two whole nights!

Intended as a gift to celebrate a recent birthday that ends in a 0, the booking ended up coinciding with the tail end of nanowrimo. I have two nights planned with nothing to do but make sure I feed myself every so often and the remainder of the time I plan to work up the RSI in my fingers and WRITE!

This is the room I stayed in last time, so lovely!

This is the room I stayed in last time, so lovely!

Prepare to drool as you see the fabulousness that is Cimarron – I linked to the room I will be staying in. Yes, this is the same bed and breakfast I stayed at when I self styled a writing retreat two years ago – you can read about that here.

The fabulous Bman swapped his day off and is driving me down there tomorrow morning. It’s the first time I’ve left him and Little Man for two nights – they’ve gone on interstate trips to visit family without me for longer periods that that, but this is the first time I’m leaving them for more than a night. Little Man will not mind in the slightest, ah the fickleness of a six year old. Bman will get to watch shoot ’em up movies that I don’t particularly enjoy. Funny anecdote – the first night I spent away from Bman was my sister’s hen’s do (nearly ten years ago). When I spoke to him in the morning he said he’d fallen out of my side of the bed during the night! He’d rolled and rolled and without me as a bumper he’d just kept going!

I’m nearly at the half way point in word count, but the observant of you will notice that we are well past the half way point of the month. So I gots me some writing to do!

I want to get a flash fiction piece or two done while I’m gone as well. It’s funny that the 1000 words needed for a flash fiction piece tend to come in around an hour yet 1000 words in the nano novel (or any novel-length project I’m working on) take a heck of a lot longer than an hour. What’s up with that?!

Cimarron Session – pics

I thought you guys might be interested in the Cimarron of the Cimarron Session, so here’s some pics for you.

Above is my cosy sleeping area.

The view from my bed.

The sitting area of my room – the Eagle Room, love it!

Where I’ve been doing most of my writing, so lovely! The room, not so much the dork in the corner of the pic 🙂

Breakfast is always going to taste fabulous when it’s presented like this. Such a huge collection of beautiful vintage fiesta ware, with such a great story behind it I’m thinking of stealing it! The story, not the crockery!

Back to the writing, a little longer on the manuscript and maybe a flash fiction to post late tonight….

One day to go!!

The Count Down (yes it gets capitals and I LOATHE overcaptalisation!) is on people! Tomorrow night I will start my self designed writer’s retreat.

I should give it a name shouldn’t I – The Cimarron Sessions maybe? I am a terrible copywriter, headlines, tag lines and photo captions are just not my thing so I suspect that’s as witty as I’ll get, otherwise we’re looking at ‘Alreadynotpublished’s writing retreat’ – ho hum!

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • sleeping in, although that is unlikely to happen as I have been indoctrinated into the early wake up, sigh
  • nanna nap!
  • writing, lots
  • reading, hopefully not as much as the writing
  • a cheeky chardy
  • cycling into town for a naughty pastry or the like
  • missing BMan and my Little Man!
  • posting new flash fiction



Too weird for fiction, this is real life baby!

So folks I’m back on board after a crazy couple of weeks, hope you didn’t miss me too much 😉

After some recent events and also inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild that I am halfway through, I got to thinking about how a dramatic event in your life can derail you so completely that your life is suddenly and irreversibly chaged forever. Not just the changes one expects to come along, getting a new job, moving towns etc. but something that, to you, is earth shatteringly changing, enough to change your thought patterns, your natural way of interacting with your world, your very behaviour, even your own perception of yourself.

For many of us we ride this life rollercoaster, even with all its dizzying highs and plunging lows, on a fairly even keel, we absorb the impact and continue on changed, but recognisable. For others the results are far more dramatic. These are the people that we read and write about. Funny thing is, in fiction, these dramatic shifts in personality and behaviour can often ring untrue.

Cheryl Strayed was rocked to the core when her mother died, her behaviour over the next five or so years was dramatically different to life while her mother still lived. If her memoir was written as fiction you would put it down in disgust, why would this loving wife do such seemingly despicable things? So out of character? What was the author thinking, did they really think we’d buy this? please! But she did, really. And then she wrote about it, raw and honest.

The truth is truly stranger than fiction.

What about those perfect storms of coinicidental events that culminate in drama. They all happen in our lives, we know that, but when we read a book or see a movie where a seemingly ridiculous sequence of good or bad luck occurs to one person, it doesn’t ring true. But in life we know it happens.

It’s funny that we need to temper our fiction to make it believable.

When we returned from holiday last night we first pulled into our local shopping centre to restock the pantry. I rushed from the car, leaving Little Man sleeping and Bman phoning friends. As I hurried past the corner coffee shop I noted a bit of a crowd was clustered, When I drew closer I saw one of the outdoor tables was covered with a blanket and there were two people holding brightly coloured giant parakeets, just stroking their heads gently and silently. There was also a man holding a piglet wrapped in a blanket, but no one was looking at him. Bizarre! I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I’d only been gone 2 weeks, what on earth had changed in my short absence? If I wrote this scene up, which I’m tempted to do, would it ring true? There was no obvious explanation why the wildlife was there, nothing happened, I didn’t pat the bird or the piglet, but the sense of scene was so odd.


On a completely different note my just turned four year old Little Man is showing signs of being a story teller. During a particularly gruelling ferry crossing, where I did not manage to maintain my dignity, my Little Man made up adventures to make me feel better (while the ever supportive Bman slept!). They were serious boy’s own adventure stuff, lava surfing, rocket boosters and speed, elaborate in their action, seriously light on plot and character development. I loved every minute of it!

We bought a litte exercise book and he dictated three stories to me. They were less dramatic than his earlier offerings as I wrote too slow for him!

One proud writing mama will treasure this holiday souvenir for a long long time!

Familiarity breeds readers, not contempt

Sorry for the brief silence, I am currently holidaying with the Bman and the Little Man in the Land of the Long White Cloud and our connection to the internet world has been patchy at best.

We are here after a midnight flight from Australia for a family reunion at Womad and having a fabulous time.

Last night we had our little gypsy camp of campervans, house trucks and tents set up in a beautiful scenic reserve, complete with marshmallows and roaring fire, divine. This does have a writing connection, bare with me!

<<This is our camper, me in the window with a cup of wine!, and my inlaw’s gorgeous house truck!, yes this is in a paddock, not the gorgeous reserve of last night!>>

The surroundings were lush, vibrant and green, not all that different from reserves I’ve been to in Australia. In fact at one point I almost asked our locally based family if we could expect to see kangaroos at dusk and dawn as we would back home. But of course we’re in New Zealand, not Australia, kangaroos don’t roam the wilds of NZ. While I knew we were on holiday intellectually, the sense of familiarity was still there. And here’s my point, finally 🙂

When we write, it is this sense of familiarity that makes our readers comfortable and able to lose themselves in the story and world we have created. Even if that story is uncomfortable by nature, the familiarity of setting, of emotion, of action,  provides touchstones that a reader can understand and relate to.

This is the case even if the world created is completely foreign, in outer space, if the protagonist is a serial killer, an alien, a child or an earthworm, far removed from our actual experience, the sense of familiarity is essential for reader engagement. But what creates that sense of familiarity can vary widely, a character’s reactions, internal dialogue, a place, a smell, an interaction, weather.

So there’s my point, how do you make your readers comfortable? How do you make them want to return again and again to your story, because they love what you have created, they remember it because they recognised and connected with something.

Off for nibbles and wine…..

It’s research, no really!

Tonight I am bone tired from my late night writing session last night, so the fingers get a rest tonight, my characters are letting me have a rest. This means I get a chance to read instead.

Surely that counts as research?

A Ben10 story out of the way for the Little Man, and now to my reading.

Image from IMDB

I recently finished Exremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer. There must be myriad reviews of this all over the net. I loved it, the author made some brave choices in his manuscript and its presentation, images, text running over the top of itself, pages with three words on them. But it all works, it is powerful and a fabulous example of modern day story telling.

Of course it’s also out at the cinema at the moment. ‘ll wait for the DVD release but I’m interested in seeing how well this unique novel translates to the screen.

I just received a pre-release copy of Wildby Cheryl Strayed, the voice of the Dear Sugar column. I’m not sure whether I should start this or wait till my plane takes off for New Zealand on Monday night, I need to make sure I have a couple of good holiday reads. Chery Strayed as sugar is shockingly honest, open and humbling. I’m looking forward to her new novel/memoir.

I also want to read something from Toni Jordan as I’ll be taking part in a writing course with her shortly.

But I’m more than open to more holiday read suggestions. I usually need something a bit light and escapist while on holiday. Any ideas?