Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My thoughts on what makes a novel series great!

Yes so finally I am back in the Blogosphere!
For the past week I havent had much desire to do anything other than read Harry Potter. I was reading the last book in the series for (only) the second time and so I really got quite addicted. Now that I've finished the last book I've gone back to book four to read through to the last one again. Books 1 to 3 have never been my favourites, and I've also read them more than I've read the rest. I'm finding it quite fun to take off right in the middle of the action, when the story really starts getting interesting.
The good thing about my current obsession with Harry Potter, is I am learning quite a lot about novel writing, and in particular what makes a novel series truly great!
I read somewhere that novels only become popular out of shear luck. Well somehow I just cant agree with that.
Its not that hard to compare the truly amazing best-sellers with the other novels. There are a number of things that make one more popular over the rest. I'm not going to give away my secrets in this blog, and in any case I still havent quite figured it all out myself. But one thing I can tell you, it is definitely worth waiting and developing your story to its fullest potential. Keep developing the characters and the plot and make it something really special. A novel series tends to be the best idea too, with one big plot overall. Anyway, these are a few of the things that I am working on to give my novel the greatest potential it can have. I would rather write only one great novel series in my life than many mediocre ones. That is all!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Newspaper review: Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 10 September 2011

We are approaching a time – if were aren’t there already – when reading a newspaper will be considered ‘old school’, or even similar to how it may have felt listening to old vinyl records when CD’s started becoming popular. I keep hearing the term ‘print is dead’, and while I hope print remains alive enough for me to actually have my yet-to-be-written nine-part novel series published, I do still agree that online journalism is the way to go. But in saying that, sometimes it is still nice to walk to the local shops, buy the big and bulky weekend newspaper, take it home and have a good read. I’ve never been one to actually sit down and read a whole newspaper, mostly because 90% of the articles report on the most negative of news. However, sometimes the remaining 10% can be well worth the read. I have written this post to document the few articles that grabbed my attention, and I have to say, I wish I had started reading the newspaper sooner, if I had, then maybe I wouldn’t have missed out on a couple of events I wish I had attended.

‘Fashion goes Gaga’ page 3 and ‘Fashions fit for a Lady’ page 36

The Gordon TAFE runway show.
‘Young designers worked with Geelong-sourced materials while hairdressing students completed the looks with extravagant wigs and hairpieces.’
Some of the young, aspiring designers used Lady Gaga as their inspiration.
This article makes me want to get involved with more events around Geelong – if it is possible to attend a TAFE fashion show – I want to be there for the next one!

‘Payday loans protest’ High-interest credit keeping ‘people in debt cycle’’ page 9
‘Payday loans refer to small, short-term loans, that are intended to cover borrower’s expenses until their next paydays.’
People are ‘getting trapped in a cycle of debt because of high-interest loans from payday lenders’
‘Some lenders were charging interest rates of upwards of 600 per cent, with scant regard for the borrower’s ability to repay the loan.’
There is a plan for ‘Federal Government changes to regulations to regulations governing payday lenders that would see a cap placed on the amount of interest payday lenders could charge.’
My two cents: live within your means and don’t get into debt in the first place. Easier said than done, but by making the necessary sacrifices early on (preferably early on in life) and making good habits you can learn to live on whatever money you do make and you will be free to gain prosperity when the opportunity comes.

‘Party of one has a ball’ page 9

Melbourne Zoo’s first baby elephant, Ongard, celebrated his first birthday last Friday.
Ongard means brave and bold in Thai, he weighs 630kg, but he’s still a mummy’s boy.
His birthday activities involved demolishing a banana cake, playing with a water ball with his sister, and having school children sing him birthday songs.
Melbourne Zoo director said, “He’s very keen to learn,” “He already knows his name, he’s learning a lot of husbandry behaviours that allow us to take good care of him.”
Ongard will have a new half-sibling, who is due towards the end of next year.
Goal: Must visit Melbourne Zoo!

!!!! – ‘Library Funds to SHOUT ABOUT!’ page 13

The Federal Government has confirmed it will fund $10m toward the building of Geelong’s new Library.
The project now has the $45m it needs to go ahead.
The plans: ‘six levels including reading areas, kids discovery, multi-media, community IT, collection and meeting zones plus an auditorium plus a new home for the city’s heritage archive.’
‘Geelong Regional Library Corporation chairman Cr Rod Macdonald is promising Australia’s best library and heritage centre. We look forward to witnessing the phoenix rising and having it playing powerful part in the smart city’s learning curve.’
Yay! I signed the petition on this (I think I accidentally signed it more than once, oops) and now it’s going ahead WOOHOO! Geelong is getting a brand new $10m library! I read somewhere not long ago that Waurn Ponds (The suburb near me) is also getting a new library next year – YAY for Geelong Libraries!

 ‘Wind power already blows in good news’ page 40

‘Wind energy is currently the cheapest form of clean energy that can be rolled out on a large scale.
‘Globally it reduces more than 210 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year and there are more than 70 countries that recognise the important contribution it makes to our energy mix.
‘It’s true that wind power it currently more expensive than coal or gas, but the difference is that, like most forms of renewable energy, it is coming down in price.
‘The increased fuel and capital costs of coal and gas mean they are both getting more expensive.
‘Wind might be variable, but it can be predicted ahead of time at around 90 per cent accuracy and the flexible nature of our national electricity grid means that it can be easily accommodated.
‘Earlier this year, South Australia quietly passed a major electricity milestone. It now produces more than 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy. As most of that comes from wind power, there are a few things worth mentioning about South Australia’s early success in this area.
‘From the 2005/6 to 2010/11, electricity production in South Australia grew by six per cent, but its carbon emissions over the same period fell from 9.8 million tonnes to 8 million tonnes.
‘The increase in electricity production from wind over this period, from 5 per cent of the state’s electricity to around 20 per cent, helped achieve a 23 per cent drop in carbon intensity.
‘We may not be at the end of the rainbow just yet, but we’re starting to get some momentum.’
Go green energy!

GT section – ‘Three floors of artworks attract 600 to opening night’ page GT-6

‘The old Dimmeys building in Malop St has been transformed into a dynamic arts space for two weeks. The building, no longer recognisable as the bargain emporium it once was, is now home to the works of more than 50 artists. The exhibition, Peel Your Eyes, is displayed over three levels of the building and features artworks of all sorts using a range of different media, including installations, photography and paintings. The exhibition - organised by SUB Artist-Run Initiative - opened last week with about 600 people attending.’
‘There were three bands and a solo performer at the opening night. The exhibition is open between noon and 8pm for one more week.’
I am very disappointed to have missed this opening night, it has given me great determination to become more aware of events taking place around Geelong.
I did however manage to visit the exhibit yesterday afternoon – for my personal review of the exhibit and reflections on my favourite piece ‘She flies with her own wings’ click here.

GT section – ‘Treasure Trove – Bibs and bobs languishing in storage, some for more than 100 years, are being given an airing at a fascinating new Geelong exhibition’ page GT-7

‘Hidden Treasures is jammed-packed with all sorts of… stories, stories of people and events that have combined to make the city what it is today.
‘Combining treasures from seven of the city’s museums, it includes an early ice-making machine… bomb fragments, fossils, giant shark teeth and all sorts of treasures.
‘Each of the treasures is attached to a story of peoples endeavour, survival and diligence.
‘They are a testament to the city’s forebears and cover extraordinary stories, some long forgotten, others recently discovered.’
‘[Hidden Treasures] does showcase seven of the city’s volunteer-run museums and collections at the Geelong Maritime Museum, the Scout Heritage Centre, Osborne Park House Association, the Bellarine Historical Society, the Cement Retirees Museum, the Geelong Historical Society, and the James Harrison Centre.’
‘Hidden Treasures is on at the National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool St, Geelong, until October 30. Open weekdays 9.30am-5pm, weekends 10am-5pm. A family pass is $25, adults $7.50.’
Too bad I’m allergic to wool – let’s just hope I don’t break out in hives upon entering the building!

GT section – ‘Thelma and Louise, the castle queens’ with Margaret Clark page GT-8
OMG! Margret Clark was a huge inspiration for me to become a writer when I was in my early teens! Her book series titled ‘Fat chance’ was set in Jan Juc! How did I not realise that she could quite possibly live here in Geelong? This is so awesome!
[Click Image for larger view]

GT section – ‘Gemini’ GT-12

 ‘Confirmation that your year’s efforts to date are right on track. Life feels more settled, and more satisfying. You start to build new foundations that promise to last long after these weeks have passed. Best news? The rewards you’ve been hoping for are closer than ever.’
Good news for me!

GT section – ‘Shimmer in a spring frock’ page GT-13
 ‘Welcome the spring sunshine in a lovely new dress. Nothing says spring fashion quite like a lovely dress, and, with stores starting to receive their seasonal deliveries, it’s the ideal time to choose your favourite.
‘White is emerging as a strong trend for the season, with fashionistas able to choose between options including crochet, lace or a block colour.’
‘Brights are also hot on the radar, and a pop of colour in a dress to suit your shape is a great way to liven up your wardrobe.
‘A floral or patterned number is a great option, but keep accessories to a minimum to ensure maximum effect.
‘The popular all-rounder – the maxi dress – will stick around for another season. It is ideal to take you from morning to night without fuss.’

Looking at these dresses makes me want a sewing machine – oh wait someone slipped a Lincraft catalogue right on this page and they have a beginners Brother sewing machine for $159, originally $249! I wonder if it is a sign! Darn it, where’s $159 when you need it!
Looks like I’ll have to satisfy myself with a few trips to the local Op Shops instead!

Wow I spent $1.70 on this newspaper and all I found was 10 articles?! Ok well there were a few more that grabbed my attention, they just weren’t worth writing about!
Overall though what I did find was rather encouraging and informative. I will definitely be paying more attention to local events in future! Its time I got out there to network and mingle – who knows maybe I’ll even make a real life friend – well here’s to hoping ;)
It’s funny that if I weren’t writing this blog, I wouldn’t have brought the newspaper and wouldn’t have plans to get out there and experience new things – this blog is proving to be very positive indeed!

'Peel you eyes' Review

At first I felt really good about getting into some arty culture, but by the end, after viewing a few too many of the dark/negative/grotesque ‘art’ I felt like I had walked out of a nightmare.

But then by the time I had walked a short distance down the street, I realised I had actually really enjoyed many of the artworks on the ground floor – it was just a few things on the upper levels that weren’t to my taste. I wish I had gone back to view my favourites before walking out the door. I plan to visit the exhibit again before Friday afternoon – after which time it will be gone forever.

My absolute favourite artwork was a paper butterfly installation called ‘She flies with her own wings’ by Taegan Roberts. This piece was dedicated to one of the artists relatives – whom I presume may have passed away. I found ‘She flies with her own wings’ to be not only incredibly beautiful, but very moving as well. It was so good to see a young artist express their grief in such a beautifully symbolic way. Taegan Roberts display has been featured on the (relevant) websites and Geelong Advertiser more than any of the other artworks, it is clear I am not the only person to have appreciated her creation. I hope to see more great things from this talented local artist!

Update: 16/9/2011 - The meaning behind 'She Flies Without Wings' is somewhat different than I first thought. Today I recieved an email from the artist who created 'She Flies With Her Own Wings', who tells me that the piece to dedicated to the artists mother - who is still very much alive - but who lost her own mother young in life and has gone on to raise two children as a single mother.
The artist says 'She inspires me because she always has a positive outlook, a strong head and a warm heart. She is my best friend so i wanted to represent her somehow and I thought 1000 origami butterflies might be a good start!!'
This is just so beautiful, I honestly have tears in my eyes! I am so glad this talented woman shared her story with me, and shared her art with Geelong.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Why are fast food workers so rude?!

The next time you go to fast food restaurant take a minute to put yourself in the fast food workers’ shoes.

·         90% of the customers are treating you like you are a worthless piece of nothing every single day.

·         Almost every day you are verbally or even physically abused.

·         In the event of a fight breaking out between customers, the police probably won’t show up, and if they do the culprits will already be gone. If you are a fast food manager it is your job to protect the other customers and other staff, which means you have to attempt to break up the fight. You’ve not only been hit yourself while doing this, but you have also been covered in other people’s blood.

·         The company doesn’t recognise you as an individual or for that matter a human being. They don’t care that you have human needs; they expect you to work like a machine.

·         No matter how fast or well you work your aren’t working fast or well enough.

·         Although OHS policies are in place, there are not enough staff rostered to ensure that each staff member is able to work at a safe pace, or even to do things properly – not when you have to work at such a fast pace to satisfy the amount of customers that enter the store.

·         The company is making billions of dollars off your hard labour; you are employed as a casual without benefits or job security. If you are a manager, you work so many hours that your full-time wage ends up being less than the casual workers – you also have to sacrifice everything else in your life so you can work this job, you have very little time to get decent sleep, let alone spend time with your family and friends.

·         You work ridiculous shifts – one day you’ll work a 6am-2pm shift, another day in the same week you will work 10pm to 6am. You may even be expected to work 10 or more hours on some occasions, due to staff not showing up for their shifts.

·         You eat the crap food the company sells because not only is it addictive but you also don’t have time to provide yourself with decent food. The food makes you irritable and prevents you from performing at your best.

·         You don’t have time to drink enough water, if you do drink any liquids the soft drink machine is generally what you are most tempted to drink.

·         The company doesn’t care about your studies – they need staff to work and if you want to work for them you will work when they want you too.

·         Co-workers don’t show up for their shifts, or call in sick and there aren’t any replacements, the customer don’t care that you are short staffed, and the company will take the profits for the extra hard work you have to do to cover the missing person. This happens more than just a few times each week.

·         You feel like your life is going no-where, you almost feel as though the company owns you.  It is hard to believe there could possibly be a better job out there for you.

·         It’s hard to find time to look for better work, and if you do leave you will be letting your team down – they are all going through the same thing that you are, and losing you will make life difficult for them – they are after all your friends, you’ve been through hell together on more than a few occasions and have developed a tight bond.

Opening up about mental illness!

In recent years, in an attempt to overcome my anxiety and depression, I have started to not only acknowledge my own problems but also open up to other people as well.
They say the first step towards overcoming your issue, is to acknowledge or admit you have a problem. Being honest about what you are going through is the first step toward recovery.
In recent months, when I tried to be honest about my condition, a person hit me with this question, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Now this person wasn’t asking what caused me to become depressed, no, their question was stated out of disbelief. They weren’t taking me seriously and they reacted as though I was only trying to get attention, as though my problem wasn’t even real.
On another occasion I was trying to explain to this person the reality behind eating disorders. We were watching a 60 minutes segment about anorexia, and this person just refused to believe that someone who was as skinny as the girl on the segment could honestly believe they were fat. This person couldn’t get their head around the fact that the problem wasn’t what the girl actually saw in the mirror, but about what she believed in her mind. No matter how much I tried to explain, I just couldn’t get through to the person about the real problem at hand. In the end, all that the person could accept was that some people have different perceptions of what it is to be fat. This was not an improvement.
Mental illnesses may not be physical problems, but that doesn’t mean they are not real. (Eating disorders have physical symptoms but the root of the problem is not a physical one).
If you have a mental illness don’t be afraid to be honest about your problem – tell people you can trust and who will make an effort to understand what you are going through.  Denying the problem will only make it worse – trust me, I’ve spent the best part of my life trying to ignore what was going on, and I only managed to heal once I began to open up about it. Opening up is also the first step towards being able to establish positive relationships in your life – something I am hopefully on the verge of being able to do.
If someone you know has a mental illness, don’t judge them or turn them away when they reveal to you what they are going through. Listen to them! You don’t have to have all the answers, but the very least you can do is let them get things off of their chest. The more people this person can successfully open up to, the sooner they will be able to recover.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Dreams can be goals too!

For a long time I didn’t appreciate the time in which I was born. I always dreamed of living in the 16th century, during the years of the renaissance. I had a fairy-tale fantasy point of view, not a realistic understanding of what it would have really been like to have lived back then.
The problem was, I spent so much time ‘wishing’ to live in another time that I failed to live in the present. I have been called a dreamer by more than a few people, and yes I agree. I am completely aware of this fact. But now is the time for me to take this dreamer quality and use it to learn and also to create.
Dreaming can have two positive outcomes – it can be a source of inspiration, through which great artistic works can be created, and it can also be the determination to do great things in the future. An achievable dream is in fact one big achievable goal. In my mind a dream to me is the overall goal I have for my life, the objectives of the dream are the goals which will make that dream become a reality. Each one of those goals achieved with be an accomplishment and no matter how much or how little I do achieve I will be happy and I will be satisfied.
I do not dream in hope of finding happiness, I dream in order to make the most of life I have to live. As they say, aim high, you will only ever achieve as much as you set out to achieve. If you have low hopes for your life, it is unlikely you will ever achieve much more than what you believe you can achieve.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Spontaneous Goals – My move to Geelong

It has been almost three years since I packed up my most treasured belongings and took a 10 hour bus ride from Adelaide to Geelong. It was one of the most reckless things I have ever done in my life.

·         I didn’t have a job

·         I didn’t have a place to live

·         I didn’t know anyone

·         I couldn’t even remember ever having visited the place

So why did I move? I think the major reason was, I really needed to make a big change in my life, and the thrill of taking such a huge risk made it all the more appealing – it made me feel alive. The initial plan was to actually move to Melbourne. But moving from Adelaide to Melbourne was quite a scary thought, and I was at a point where I wanted a break from the big city life. Now Adelaide is by no means a ‘big city’, it is quite often referred to as Australia’s largest regional town – even though it is supposed to be a state capital. If I was already frazzled from living in Adelaide, I doubt I could have handled living in the insane hustle and bustle that is Melbourne. After growing up in a small country town of only 3000 people, I had no intention of living in a small town. I needed to move somewhere big enough that actually had things like share house accommodation and some form of suitable work, not to mention some degree of decent shopping opportunities. As Geelong has a population of over 200,000 people, and is only one hour from Melbourne, it fit my needs perfectly.

Although my move to Geelong was more of an act of random spontaneity than a well thought out goal, it did require a bit of thought and a bit of planning for it to have actually worked. The spontaneous part was actually the thing that made it happen. So often if I don’t act on something straight away, I forget about it and it never happens. As stupid as my move to Geelong seemed to people around me – most of whom didn’t even know about it until after it actually happened – it turned out to be a very positive change in my life. Even though I continued to deal with the same issues I had faced I Adelaide, I actually found it much easier to overcome them.

My goal this spring – the season of new beginnings – is to gain a fresh perspective on life. I have been living in Geelong now for almost 3 years, and while I have become quite familiar with how to get around and am aware of some of the things Geelong has to offer, I am still yet to fully appreciate everything it has in store.
My first sights of Geelong:
 The Geelong Railway Station
Johnstone Park - Art Gallery and Library
Cnr Malop and Moorabool streets
The Nash Backpackers
Bay City Westfield - SHOPPING!!!