Blogging

Taking Stock

Taking Stock

I’m taking a leaf out of Al and Pip’s blogs, here and here, and ‘Taking Stock’ this January. I really liked this idea, probably because I love lists and reflection, and I’m really happy that Al lead me to Pip – because Pip crochets stuff!

Sending a very warm thank you to these two awesome Aussie ladies for the inspiration for this week’s blog. If you want to try this list yourself, I recommend writing it twice and noticing any negative self-talk that crept into the first version. Life is too short to keep that soundtrack playing.

Making: Study notes, so I can blitz my exam in April.

Cooking: More regularly. Learning how to meal-plan.

Drinking: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, but I’d love to get my hands on another bottle of Cotswold’s London Dry Gin.

Reading: Yoga Therapy for stress and anxiety, and Talking to My Country by Stan Grant. Also, my bro-in-law’s script-in-progress.

Next read: Heat and Light, by Ellen Van Neerven.

Wanting: A flowy skirt.

Looking: At my wedding photos … I really need to sort through more of them.

Playing: Battlefront II – occasionally on PS4 with the hubby.

Deciding: Which story idea to polish for spicy bites.

Wishing: I prioritised my time better.

Enjoying: The hot, sunny weather.

Waiting: For the RWA 2017 Spicy Bites and Little Gems anthologies to arrive in the mail.

Liking: My whiteboard. It’s where I do some of my best thinking.

Wondering: If I could sync my whiteboard with my bullet journal – knowing that neither are electronic …

Loving: Yoga With Adriene’s TRUE series of yoga videos. Start here.

Pondering: Whether I can keep up my daily yoga practice the whole year.

Considering: Running a marathon. I like the idea of it, but it’s already a big year.

Buying: Nothing but food and necessities if I can help it. But I really want Louise Allan’s the Sisters’ Song, and about a hundred other books and manga and DVDs.

Watching: Arrow. Stephen Amell mhmm.

Next watch: Maybe the Crown Season 2?

Hoping: That I can make a difference in people’s lives, somehow. Really not sure on the how. Reckon I need to stop thinking and hoping and just start, somewhere.

Marvelling: At the generosity of strangers.

Cringing: At my own self-doubt and negative self-talk. If I wouldn’t say it to a friend, I shouldn’t be saying it to myself.

Needing: To keep waking up early – it felt amazing this week.

Questioning: Whether I can do everything I want to.

Smelling: Curry – haha.

Wearing: My purple Dr Marten’s. Dreamed of them since forever, and love how strong they make me feel.

Following: Too many aspiring and emerging authors to keep track – plus some very inspiring established authors. Check out who I’m retweeting or sharing on FB.

Worrying: That I’m not good enough.

Noticing: My breath.

Knowing: That I need to stop worrying so much.

Thinking: In. Out.

Admiring: Margaret Atwood – always.

Sorting: My favourite websites and blogs into folders on my bookmark bar – and then syncing my laptop chrome with chrome on my phone.

Getting: Sick waaaay too often.

Bookmarking: All the things.

Coveting: New earrings.

Disliking: Back sweat. My own. I don’t care about yours. But mine is really bothering me.

Opening: My wallet, too often.

Giggling: At my husband’s Dad jokes. He’s not even a Dad yet, not even close, but gosh!

Feeling: Optimistic.

Snacking: On nuts and a square of dark chocolate – usually.

Hearing: Traffic, but it sounds like the ocean – said my Dad. *Shakes head and smiles.*

If you made it all the way down here … wow. Thank you.

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 0 comments
Writing Goals 2018

Writing Goals 2018

Hi

In my New Years post I mentioned I needed to have a think about my writing goals for 2018. I wasn’t sure what was achievable. I’m still not and I don’t think I will be until I try. So let’s just go with the wish list for now and I can work the rest out later.

  1. Finish the damn book

    FTDB – the first draft at least – should be the goal of any aspiring author. I didn’t manage it last year. Getting married, moving countries, changing jobs … is not exactly a BAU year in the life of anyone. I’m not gonna bash myself up for that one.

    However, I feel close. After entering the Selling Submissions competition last year, I have a Synopsis that I’m happy with, that gives me direction, but still leaves freedom. I just need to connect the dots, flesh it all out, get it down.

  2. Entering short story competitions

    Starting with Little Gems and Spicy Bites in January with the RWA. The themes are Jade and Chains respectively, with word counts in the range of 3000-5000. I’m excited by the idea of these. The first is mild/medium and shorter, but Spicy Bites is an erotic fiction contest.

    I confess I read spicier romances- as anyone whose seen my kindle library knows 😉 But I haven’t tried writing it before, so this is going to be entertaining. To get an idea of how badly this could go… check out the Bad Sex Awards – for older readers only!

    Keeping my eye out for other competitions later in the year. Suggestions welcome!

  3. I’ve applied for a Critique Partner with the RWA

    One of the best ways to improve is to get feedback, so I’m taking the plunge in 2018. I don’t want to be a writer in a garret. Isolated. Tapping away. Hoping that someone will like it, without ever actually asking anyone. Even Rapunzel hated being Rapunzel.

  4. Blog

    This is where things get a little more optional. I’m going to aim for once a month minimum. If I can get out once a week, on a Monday, that’s fantastic! But, at the very least, once a month. I like blogging. It’s a chance to connect in with the writer community, with friends and family across Australia and the world.

    Through the blog, I’m learning to be a little less precious about my words, and get comfortable with sharing.

To all the writers out there: What are your writing goals for 2018? Looking forward to cheering you on!

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 2 comments
5 Reasons I Failed NaNoWriMo, … but I still feel like I won

5 Reasons I Failed NaNoWriMo, … but I still feel like I won

  1. I didn’t plan beyond the first week. I had a list of prompts and scenes, for if I got stuck in a rut, but I didn’t use them. I am getting way too comfortable in the familiar of the rut. I need to commit to climbing out of it faster!
  2. I got sick. And then I got sick again. Flu and then stomach bug. Which meant all life subsisted on the minimum. I slept a lot and am now getting my diet and exercise back on track better than before. Feeling good 😉
  3. My excellent accountants needed all my tax info for the two countries I’ve been resident in lately. So happy they are organised and got it done with plenty of time to spare, but bye bye November and spare cash. On the plus side, I’m now budgeting a more frugal lifestyle, which means more cash for the stuff that really matters, I.e not takeaway lunches.
  4. We moved house. Yeah that’s kind of a biggie. Especially, when half our stuff was stored with my parents, and the other half at my grandma’s, and boxes arrived from England just in time. It’s been really special setting up the place the way we want and getting comfy in our own space again. Rediscovering beloved items and keepsakes brings a lot of joy.
  5. My husband and I are newlyweds, and given the choice of writing or being loved up… on top of all the above demands on my time and health? I naturally chose the latter. Hey – I’m a member of the RWA. Why only read and write about Romance when you can live it! Love you Mr Hamby xx

Lessons learnt and all that about commitment, making time and not biting off more than I can chew. But I am 7k words richer than I was in October and have ticked off some of the major life goals and admin that coincided with NaNoWriMo, which to me is a big WIN!

How did you go with NaNoWriMo?

Posted by jhamby in Blogging, 2 comments
What’s in my suitcase?

What’s in my suitcase?

I’ve just moved back to Australia from the United Kingdom and the packing was a mammoth task! It was very much worth it though. We’ve had more sun the last two weeks in Sydney than I think we had all summer in London. Wearing SPF 50 daily for my pasty rosacea riddled skin.

I do miss my new family though! A big shout out to the Hamby’s in the UK. Thank you for welcoming me into your family and your country. It’s been wonderful getting to know you and I look forward to seeing you again next year xx You are completely responsible for one of the more unusual items in my suitcase and I love you for it.

Living in London, we kept the household items to the essentials + a few luxuries (Dearest Nutribullet – I hear you are being put to hard work in your new home!), so we expected packing to be not so difficult. We still managed to mostly fill two large boxes and two small from Seven Seas Worldwide who were wonderful to deal with in London.

These contained heavy boots; winter jackets; fancy dresses (I’m looking at you BAFTA ball gown); assorted kitchen-ware that *meant* something, like gift mugs; filled notebooks and diaries; and one very lonely but very beloved piece of *art* – a framed scrabble pasted photo of Han Solo and Princess Leia between takes (see above).

I love you

I know

Sigh – I read The Princess Diarist earlier this year and adored it. It travelled back in one of the boxes too. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds – you are sorely missed!

Despite the four boxes, there were still some effects that we couldn’t leave behind. Which leads me to the list of 5 unusual things that I brought back to Sydney via Dallas and San Francisco in my luggage:

  1. Warrick the Ewok (we pronounce it Yoric, Life of Brian anyone?). We bought him in June from Disneyland Paris. My first trip to Disneyland: I think I must have been waiting for all the Star Wars rides and merch. Warrick – was sat beside my bed hiding from the boxes. He must have wanted to see the US of A. Can’t blame him, it was a fun trip!
  2. Manduka Eko Travel Mat in Midnight. It FOLDS! That’s why it makes this list – it’s unusual. Brilliant design for travelling. I love it. It smells nice too. It’s made from sustainably harvested tree rubber.
  3. Two laptops – one for writing and one for work. I’d hoped to leave the second behind in London, but since I’m transferring internally, it was advised to bring it with me. At least that one is small. The writing one is the brick! I got a few odd looks from security when I pulled two laptops out of my carry-on :S
  4. Four pairs of shoes – how many do you travel with? It’s always the hardest decision I make when packing.
    • Irregular choice heels. Candy whistle style. Similar to this pair … but with a different pattern painted on. I love how quirky they are. I chose Irregular choice heels for my wedding too. Have you seen the film Me Before You? This brand of shoes feature. They are so much fun!
    • HiTec walking boots – these came in handy in the Lakes District and again in San Francisco’s Muir Woods. I also pulled them out in Sydney for the walk from Maroubra to Malabar. It’s a new one that’s opened up behind the shooting range. We were very lucky to see a pair of whales frolicking.
    • Aasic sneakers for running/working out. Ha! Happened twice, maybe? More now that I’m back in Sydney.
    • Havaiana Thongs (or Flip Flops as non Sydney-siders call them). My go to footwear. Probably because I’m usually too lazy for socks or laces or even just pulling up the back of a ballet flat.
  5. A photo album of my husband’s life to date.
    My favourite of all the unusual or unexpected items in my suitcase. This included his original baby photos and the wrist band from the hospital. A gorgeous gift from his mother to us and the new family we are starting in Australia. I am so grateful to her for putting this beautiful piece of family history together for us.

Have you ever travelled around the world with something unusual or unexpected in your suitcase?

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10 London Favourites

10 London Favourites

My time in London is coming to an end after 18 months of incredible experiences. Here are just a few, not strictly in order except for number ten… that one is definitely last:

  1. West End – All the theatre. All the musicals. All of it. I’ve absolutely loved it!
  2. The Globe – because, duh. My favourite was Imogen, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. So many abs! The cast were all such fit dancers. It was an incredible performance.
  3. National Theatre – Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a longstanding favourite of mine and they did it so very well.
  4. The extra large Foyles, second-hand bookstores on Charing-Cross Road, the Piccadilly Waterstones. The smell of books!
  5. Secret Cinema – Moulin Rouge – my God! I have never seen anything like it. Secret Cinema’s immersive experience surpassed all expectations. You’re not just seeing and hearing. You get to live and breathe it. You get woven into and swept up and away in the magic of that world. It was incredible!
  6. Walking across London Bridge and looking across the Thames at Tower Bridge. So pretty.
  7. Brockwell Park – I will always be a home girl and the park next door will always hold a special place in my heart. Brockwell has the good fortune of having a very beautiful walled garden in the middle, and it’s own resident swans and grey heron.
  8. The Eurostar to Paris. My first time in Disneyland Paris! Woohoo! So glad we waited till Disney bought Star Wars. Now I have my own ewok. He is named Yoric and is super cuddly.
  9. All the quirky yoga and fitness studios: Battersea yoga (in a yurt), Hotpod yoga (in a large indoor tent), Fierce Grace, Hit and Yoga, Embody Wellness, 1Rebel, Basefit, Light Centre, GymClass and more…
  10. The Northern Line – a London favourite? Really? I know, I know – but I think it’s been the making of me. The cause of so much angst and anxiety. It’s made me stronger. Never again in my life will I be so close to twenty sweaty strangers all glaring at each other and jostling for air.

Want to know any more about any of the above – let me know 🙂

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My 3 Favourite Words

My 3 Favourite Words

I possess only an inchoate image of the myriad of ephemeral moments that lead to this one; that lead to me loving you.

Inchoate. Myriad. Ephemeral.

These are my three favourite words and they mean the following:

inchoate: just begun and so not fully formed or developed; rudimentary

myriad: a countless or extremely great number of people or things

ephemeral: lasting or enjoyed for only a short time

They originate from my love of fantasy. Inchoate is written on the first page of Cecilia Dart-Thornton‘s The Ill-Made Mute, the first novel in The Bitterbynde Trilogy. I remember seeing it as a teenager and freezing. It was a word I couldn’t pronounce, I’d never heard it before, and I had no idea what it meant. The shock was palpable. The rest of the series, and her Crowthistle Chronicles, took me to realms of fantasy with such rich and beautiful language, and a tapestry of mythological stories that I hold close to this day. If you’ve read them and know the adoration I’m talking about, then please, recommend me more in this vein!

What are your favourite words? Can you put them in a sentence in the comments or a tweet?

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Tristan and Iseult

Tristan and Iseult

One of the world’s oldest romances.

I don’t recall if I saw the film first with James Franco and  Sophia Myles, or read the myth in one of the illustrated books I grew up with. But I love the story: the romantic triangle between Tristan, Iseult and  King Mark; the ties of loyalty; the tension between the British and the Irish. Most of all I love how old it is and how many romances it has influenced since then.

Recently we saw it presented as a play at Shakespeare’s Globe by Kneehigh productions. It’s made for the outdoors and did well on the Globe stage. The actors all had other skills: ballet dancer, singer, flautist and so on. It was a great showcase of talent.

The love spotters were a funny interactive addition. The play took the interesting choice of highlighting the secondary characters, the unloved. It gave them greater depth and a louder voice, explored how they felt about they way they were treated or mistreated as the case may be. 

There is so much more to this story than made it to the film or the play. Looking forward to rediscovering it’s history in more detail.

Do you love Tristan and Iseult? What stories have stuck with you through the years? 

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