Friday, August 30, 2013

About a Girl

Now that I'm on a roll with regular writing again (and it isn't even November!), I've decided to keep going. Plus, writing tends to always make me feel good about myself; I feel the most me when I'm typing or scribbling notes across any scrap paper, notebook and even parts of my body I can find. No joke, you put me on the plane for two hours heading to or from a work swing with a pen and no paper there will more than likely be calligraphy up and down my arms by the time we land.

It's not weird. 

Now, while I hoped you enjoyed that little fun fact about me, it isn't my main reason for today's post. Rather I just finished a lovely book by a lovely woman and I very much wanted to squeal about it.

The book in question is About a Girl by the wonderful Lindsey Kelk. It is a light-hearted romantic comedy sure to put both a tear in your eye and a laugh bubbling on your lips as you follow the ill-timed, ill-fated and miraculous misadventure of one Tess Brookes as she goes from having everything to suddenly having not that much at all. 

The story goes something a little like this:

Tess heads into work one cheery Monday to finally nab the big promotion at work that she'd been promised  months before only to find out she's been sacked, made 'redundant' per se, and forced to face the recession suddenly jobless. A confirmed workaholic, Tess has exactly two best friends (Amy, the bob-haired lovable nut, and Charlie, A.K.A the love of Tess' life since uni), and when things go down with Charlie Tess realises that not only has she sacrificed more of her life to her job than she ever knew but she also has no idea who she is. Insert major existential crisis here. Now, while Tess' quest for identity is quite normal and probably has happened to each of us before now, her way in dealing with it is anything but status quo:

Tess packs up her camera, takes a photography job meant for her psycho-bitch of a flatmate, and high-tails it straight to Hawaii and into a world of pineapples, gays and fashion mags. I know, I totally wish I had the balls to do it, too. But it's not all rain and sunshine (or, since it's Oahu in the Summer, all sunshine), and Tess suddenly has to keep up a fake identity when she barely has a real one, fend off the sizzling and all-too-welcome advances of hot journalist, Nick Miller, and take some damn good photos before all her new friends realise she isn't the high-class photographer they all think. 

Misadventure, laughter, tears and many fuzzy feelings will ensue, and I definitely recommend About a Girl to anybody in the mood for something fun to read that'll subtlety make you think about who you are as well and what makes you great. Lindsey Kelk is a wonderful writer, and as a fan of her previous I Heart series and standalone novel, The Single Girl's To-do List, I was all too eager for more and snapped up her latest ASAP.

Do yourselves a favour and give Lindsey whirl. You won't regret it.

Sam xox  

10 reasons why I am bloody AWESOME.

Now, it is very important for you to not get the wrong impression of me from this post. Or, for that matter, the wrong idea about why I am writing it.

This is not meant to be some arrogant ego trip, or a comparison, or any kind of negative connotation you probably could apply to it. No, this is supposed to be for me to get some perspective on myself and remember the positive things about me, what is actually good about me, and what makes me awesome in my own mind. It is just meant to be an exercise in remembering the finer things in life that people seem to think I forget about when I'm sad or having a rough time.

People never know me as well as they always seem to think they do and I'm so often giving people the wrong idea.

So, without further ado here is 10 things that I like about me and think that I am bloody well awesome:

Sam xox

10. I am an archaeologist.

From the tender age of about ten my love of history and the past took on a new turn when I watched the Stephen Sommers film The Mummy for the first time. Now, Brendan Fraser hottness and awesomeness of Rachel Weiz aside, it was probably one of the first moments that I realised that archaeology, as a practical component of treasure-seeking, tomb-raiding and history (not that it's really like that in reality), was what I totally wanted to do when I grew up.

And so I did. Now I live life virtually two weeks at a time, never spending enough time in Dullsville to really worry about getting too bored, and keeping it really excavating and learning about one of the world's oldest and underrated surviving cultures. Plus I get good money for my age and I don't have to do 9-5 unless I really feel like it. Win.

9. I went to Uni and studied literature.

To all the people who whinge about how studying English at uni getting you no where in life: shove it right up where the sun doesn't shine. Learning and knowledge don't always have to be about where they advance you, there IS such a thing about reading and researching for the sake of it. Just remember folks, if you need to always have a purpose behind why you're reading a book or learning about something, then you're probably doing it wrong.

Studying literature at uni was just for fun, because I got to read some classics, learn some new things and gain different perspectives on life that I hadn't really thought of before. Not to mention I met a whole lot of cool people who are still my friends today. Studying literature was important to me and I definitely think that it improved me, and I would even suggest that there are a lot of people out there who would do well to follow suit. Obviously not everyone, but some.

Do things for fun - it's just life .

8. I have travelled the world.

Speaking of doing things for fun, pack a bag and go on an adventure. You don't have to go for ages, you don't even have to leave the city, but travelling will make a person as much as studying a language or studying a new art. Travel to new places, meet new people, see new things, try new ways of living. Trust me, adventure is pretty much something everyone should do.

It is a very brave thing to embark on something new. Change is hard, I know, and taking the first step can be hard, too, but doing things on my own is something I've never had too much trouble with. If you are always worried and in need of someone to hold your hand you can't fully embrace your limits. We all need a little help sometimes, and that's ok, but don't forget to be strong on your own too. Go have an adventure; go to London and Tokyo and New York and Macchu Pichu and Egypt and Morocco and Turkey and Kenya. Even go to the dangerous places (within reason). See the world! Trust me, you really won't regret it. I never did, even on the worst days.

7. I give to charities. 

I heard once that giving to charities was selfish - the argument made was that we do it to make ourselves feel good about giving. And while that is true that isn't the only reason. Every act made to make someone else happy doesn't automatically make us selfish because it makes us happy, too. What about giving a friend a present when they're feeling down? It may cheer them up but it'll also leave you feeling good too, and that doesn't make you selfish.

So, I give to charities - it's not much to me to give them something that, even in a small way, makes a difference. I don't give a lot, and not all the time, but enough that it helps. I'm not some Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale kind of woman, and I do selfish shit all the time. I'm not perfect, hell no one is, but I do my bit some times. So I give to charity, it makes me feel good, and it contributes to good causes.

6. I love animals.

Animals are awesome; I love them all, especially dogs. If you love dogs then you're probably pretty alright in my books. Dogs will love you unconditionally which is something that I don't think gets enough credit these days.

And liking animals, and treating them really well, is usually an indicator of the way people will be in regards to each other. So you know if I'm good to my pets and other animals, and treat them like my babies, then I'm probably not a serial killer. Which is good, right?

5. I am a writer. 

But you already know this.

I'm lucky enough to be able to spin a couple of literary phrases and write some stories, pulled right out  of my head. I've thought up a bevy of interesting characters and situations and, while I'm obviously no Dickens or Austen, I think I'm pretty alright.

Plus if my books are published - how freaking awesome will that be? From writer to author!

4. I have great friends.

Most of them are insane, but so am I so it works. Plus they're always there for me when I need them.

No one is an Island, and although sometimes when I'm having a really rough time and think that all I have to depend on is me, that's not necessarily the case. So, I'm lucky to have a good group of friends who care about me.

Even when they're not always happy with me.

3. I have a crazy-ass family.

Somewhere between English, Australian and Indian, my family is a cacophony or melting pot of random. But like my friends even if they're mental, they're still my family and I love them.

I'm lucky to have them, when there are so many children around the world who don't have anyone.

2. I live life like it's a musical.

And so what? I have an overly romanticised, idealised view of the world and there is nothing wrong with that. I look on the bright side alot, and I think singing a little song will make things better like it does in everything Disney, but that's my personality. I think that it is an awesome facet of me that is so often underrated and passed off by people who are different.

Hey, musicals don't work for everyone but they work for me, and I think the fact that I dare to be different in the face of a cynical world and sometimes downright adversity is pretty awesome and pretty brave. I like to be this way, and anyone who has a problem with that, or me being this way, can tell it to my hand because the face just don't want to hear it. Or they can FCK right off, whatever their fancy.

It may not be the most socially acceptable thing, but loving Disney, looking on the brightside of life and bursting into song when I'm happy is a big part of being who I am, and it is NEVER ok for other people to try to tell me that I shouldn't be so.

1. I am me. 

And I think that I can be bloody damn well awesome. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Altercation in the hallway, you a-maze me!

Allora and Dominic are perhaps the longest running novel of mine in terms of how long it's taken me to write their story down. Not because I don't know exactly what happens, and in what order, and how it all ends (read: I do), but because they're story is so second nature to me I've so often forgotten that there's work to be done. 

So, waiting in limbo at the end of a work swing just the other day I decided to add a little to the Chronicles. This is a scene that for the most part was written years ago, but it is the altercation in the hallway that I wrote just recently and was important in tying together the earlier written scene in the maze with other important aspects of both characterisation and plot

I hope you enjoy it!

Sam xox

Allora had thought that her usual custom of ducking into the nearest secluded alcove when she noticed Dominic heading in her direction would succeed in drawing him off more often than not. She was a Princess, a representative of her kingdom and had had to rely on her good image for so long that giving in to Dominic was dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that despite how much she secretly suspected that she wanted to she knew it was her responsibility to act, at all times, like the Princess that she was.
            Therefore when this afternoon, Allora saw out the corner of her eye, Dominic heading once again in her direction she didn’t have to think twice before slipping into a parallel hallway. The problem was Dominic was smarter than she gave him credit for being and had begun to anticipate her attempts to avoid him. He slipped into the hallway through another entrance that brought him to a standstill right in her path, less than a few paces away.
            Allora froze for a moment, before pivoting on her heel to flee in the opposite direction.
            “Allora, wait!”
            The hissed whisper worked almost as well as a physical restraint in stop her in her tracks. Later, Allora would not have been able to explain why.
            She turned back to face him, almost sheepish.
            “You’ve been avoiding me.”
            Not a question.
            “I have.”
            “You know why.”
            Dominic ran a hand through his hair, tousling the dark curls of his out of his eyes. “You cannot avoid me or this between us forever. Pretending with me will not force me away. Not when there is so much here.”
            “What do you think is here?” Allora asked, driven by demons.
            “Let us explore this attraction between us; I think that maybe we are meant for one another – already I yearn for you to be near me, I fear for your safety and not only as my Princess. It is you that I need, that I have been waiting for.” Dominic put a hand to his heart and gazed at her, pleadingly. “I swear, on my honour, on my life and on my soul, that I mean you no harm, and I will let you go if you find that I am wrong.”
            Allora sucked in a breath, forcing her limbs to remain by her sides and not to reach out to him, take the hand he was now offering her. She shook her head and forced her resolve but she was so much weaker than she should have been, and had been, before.
“You know who I am; what you are suggesting is improper and inconceivable. I am the Princess of Messinia, I am meant to be above affairs and matters of the heart. I am not like every girl – any girl – who has that freedom. You are asking far too much of me.”
            Allora took a step back, Dominic made to follow. “No! Give me a chance, please.” He reached out to touch her, and she was almost going to let him, when footsteps sounded around the corner heading in their direction.
            “Dominic Wellsby, is that you I hear there?”
            Allora pulled away this time as if burnt, and took off on slippered feet in the opposite direction before Dominic could regroup, lost to confront the fellow courtier who had unknowingly interrupted.    

Dominic caught up with her again further into the maze of the palace gardens, despite her attempts to lose him.
“Stop running from me, Allora!” The words were quiet, so as to not draw attention during the autumn afternoon, but firm. Insistent. Almost pleading.
“Then stop following me.” She turned to gaze at him, eyes searching. “Please.”
Dominic paused to run a hand through his tousled dark hair. “Don’t you see? Don’t you understand?” Allora gasped as he closed the distance between them and took hold of her elbows, drawing her further to him. “You’re a part of me now; I can’t think but of you, I dream of you, I can’t bare you anywhere but near me. I need you – I can’t explain it but I do. I know you feel this too.”
Allora pulled back, trying to breathe; she couldn’t think. She took one step, then another, backing away from him. He followed, stalking her like a predator, eyes blazing with need. “Please, Dominic, you know that we can’t do this.”
“Do I? Because I don’t see you calling for guards, I don’t see disgust or disinterest in your eyes. I see the same dark desire and need that I feel.”
She tried to take another step and found that her back met the cold marbled edge of one of the garden’s impressive staircases. Yet he followed once more, his body now pressed to hers.  
“If you can tell me now, truthfully, looking into my eyes, that you wish me to leave you and never return – then I will go, I will never pursue you. I’m no monster, Allora. I won’t force myself on you, and I won’t continue where I’m so unwanted.” His eyes met hers with confidence. “But I can see you, straight into your eyes and your heart. I can see your soul, and I know that it cries for mine, like mine cries for you.”
She made to protest, but he pressed a finger to her lips to silence her.
“Allora: princess of Messinia is not all you are. You are a woman, flesh and blood, and you breathe.” He pressed a hand to her heart, which thumped an ecstatic taboo. “Your heart beats.” He bent low to brush a kiss to one cheek, then the next, then moved to look into her eyes again. “Now tell me, Princess, Allora, Ally, do you want me to leave you?”
She couldn’t even form the words; her mouth opened to protest, lips moved, but no sound escaped. Allora shook her head to clear it, but when their eyes locked she lost all motivation for denial.
Then her hands were in his hair, clasping him to her, lips pressed to his with all the passion she had restrained these past weeks. Her blood rising only for him.
Suddenly she felt like she’d woken from a dream, or was in the most beautiful of dreams, and she never wanted to return to the way she was.
They remained that way for some time; tongues tangling, breath mingled, hands grasping. Neither was fulfilled, neither could get close enough. Dominic pressed kisses down her neck, sliding the hem of her gown to the side for more access.
They were on fire, desire between them steadily growing too hot to bear, when Dominic pulled back suddenly and drew in a deep breath to recall oxygen back to his brain.
Allora looked at him in confusion; her arms still snaked into his hair. She went to brush the stray lock of obsidian hair out of his eyes but he caught her hand and pressed the finger of his other hand to his lips.
That’s when she heard a familiar voice call her name in exasperation:
“Allora? Princess Allora?” The woman was anxious, and Allora could almost see her pacing in irritation. “Good lord, where has that impulsive girl gone to now? Allora!”
Maddy’s voice came from above, most likely at the top of the staircase Allora and Dominic were perched under.
“It’s Maddy,” Allora whispered to him. “I-I have to go.”
For once Dominic did not protest, instead he released her and took a step backwards. They both took a moment to collect themselves.
When Dominic had straightened his clothes and run a hand through his hair once more to settle it, fruitlessly as it would never be contained, he moved to twist back a lock of Allora’s hair that had come loose from the elaborate coiffure her maids had arranged atop her head. As Maddy’s furious footsteps faded away and the woman hurried off to look for Allora somewhere else their eyes met again.
“Say you’ll visit me, Ally. Tonight.”
“Dominic, you know I can’t.”
He put a hand to her cheek and leant his forehead to hers. “Say you will, you know how much I need you to. I know you need me too.” He pressed a hot, passionate kiss to her lips that ended too soon. “The woodcutter’s cottage after sunset, I’ll be waiting for you, Ally.”

Then he released her and was gone, striding away from her towards the stables. 

To publish or not to publish?


The time finally came to take a deep breath, grow a pair and send off my writing (and my soul) to a selective of literary agents in the attempt to have my work published.


Yeah, and so I really did it - after years of saying I would someday, and brushing it off out  of secret fear that my writing was crap anyway...


And cue heart attack, panic attack and all manner of freaking the ever-lovin' hell out!

But, I actually feel amazing. No feeling I've ever felt has felt as almighty incandescent as sending in my novel for publication, even if I won't know for ages whether they want to take a chance on me or not. And chances are no one is going to want to just yet (read: JKR multiple rejection before mass HP fame), but even so the way that I feel right now if better than Percy Pigs, better than chocolate, better than tea, better than sex!

So, so much better.

Ready to go!

Sam xox