author, University, writing

Writing With Other Priorities: University and Family

And the chaos resumes! I knew 2022 was going to be intense from the moment I brought my son into this world. I still have 2 years left of my degree (since I dropped to part-time) and I really want to push through and finish my studies!

It’s already a tough juggling act and University has only just begun. I have to attend classes and sometimes they clash with when my son is awake or needs to be fed or is just plain grumpy. It’s already a tough haul getting the studies done while looking after him.

Add onto this my writing commitments and I am swamped! I do enjoy being busy, I’m not a person to sit still and do nothing all day. But even for me it’s a bit too chaotic.

I was originally planning on doing 2 University classes, but I dropped it down to 1. I’m focusing on my family and on my writing right now while slowly trudging through my degree.

I’m enjoying spending more time in the present and being able to prioritise my family. I’m writing and reading when I can and University is on a bit of a backburner. When I get published University won’t be the be-all and end-all anyway!

I’ll keep busy with my 1 class this semester, family commitments and writing commitments. I am swamped but definitely enjoying it all.

author, writing

The Music: A Poem

I close my eyes as the music starts to play,
The sound is beautiful to my ear.
On these occasions I feel like I’m floating,
For the music is all I can hear.

As the music plays through the night,
Countless images start to form.
I see myself dancing on snow and ice,
Or fighting against a vicious storm.

I see myself in a faraway place,
And walking through a town.
I see myself in the wide, blue sea,
Trying not to drown.

I see myself sleeping on a soft cloud,
As the pixies point and stare.
I watch the beautiful, young mermaid,

I see myself sleeping on a soft cloud,
As the pixies point and stare.
I watch the beautiful, young mermaid,
Comb her long, blonde hair.

I see the wondrous fairies,
Smile and dance in the light.
I laugh at the moles underground,
Complaining that it’s too bright.

I pat the white fur coat,
Of a smiling polar bear.
I see a man and a woman start to dance,
Without a single a care.

A sadness builds up inside me,
As the music comes to an end.
But I know that it will return soon,
For the music is my best friend.

author

When The World Changes

“The future sometimes looms like a monster, a horrible scary one with teeth and claws.It’s hard to plan your life when all the news talks about is how screwed up the world’s become.”

– Ann Aguirre

Things have been a little chaotic this way over the past two weeks. Honestly I thought since COVID was improving and there were less outbreaks things would get better, but then the world laughed and dumped 1000mm of rain in a day.

I wish that was a joke too. South-East Queensland was just bombarded with rain resulting in immense floods that have devastated so many towns and peoples lives.

We were lucky. We were flooded in for a while, nothing major, and although our house did have water through it, it wasn’t anything major. Our house is structurally okay and only a small amount of possessions had to be thrown out.

But I know people who have lost their entire homes and contents in these floods. It’s devastating. Absolutely heartbreaking.

And then while we’re being flooded here, Ukraine is at war and the world just feels like a nightmare right now. COVID was nowhere near this scary.

It’s hard to have perspective sometimes and to be able to be grateful for the small things. I feel so horrible for the men, women and children in Ukraine and the Russian civilians who don’t want this war.

I can’t do much right now. I was donating to UNICEF (which I highly recommend checking out here) but we’ve had to put our money into replacing items and helping family members right now.

I had to pause writing for a bit. My headspace has not been in it. I’m trying to get back to writing a little now and using my writing time to disengage from what’s happening in the world right now.

Hope that wherever you are you are safe and can hold your loved ones close ❤️

author, Short Story, Writing

Gone: A Short Story

He wasn’t coming back. I knew he wasn’t, but I wanted him too. I was desperate for him to
come back, back to my arms, back to me…

My love was gone, pulled away from me. He had been conscripted to go fight in the war;
there was no way out of it. He was yanked out of my arms and sent off to battle; I knew he
wasn’t coming back. I had a feeling in my heart. Of course, no one believed me. They all
thought that I was crazy; they all thought that he would be back.

“The war will be over in no time honey.” That was what they all said, or something along
those lines. Mothers, wives, daughters… we were all worried for their safety, but it seemed
like I was the only one that truly believed the war was not going to end quickly. It seemed
like I was the only one who believed that the war would take many lives and ruin many
others.

I carried on doing my chores for the day, I had to clean the house up a little. It was all I could
do to distract myself from the loneliness. I heard a knock at the door, distracting me from my current task. I hurried to the door and opened it; eyes wide as I realized an army officer was standing in front of me.

He took his hat off and nodded at me. “Mrs Mathers?” he asked.

I nodded. “That’s me. Who are you?”

“I am Colonel Elliot, and this is Lieutenant Colonel Fredricks.”

The other man nodded his head as he was introduced. I could see he looked uncomfortable and my heart sank. “You’re both from the army?”

The Colonel nodded and cleared his throat. “When I met Lieutenant Jarred Mathers, I knew he was a fine soldier. He was strong, capable, and always looked out for his teammates. It’s with great regret that I must inform you that he has died in the line of duty.”

My eyes clouded over with unshed tears. My love was dead. I would never be able to hold
him in my arms, kiss him and keep him near. The one thing I feared more than anything in
the world had come true. He was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.

The Colonel clasped my shoulder and I gripped his hand, not fully believing what he had just said. My husband was gone. The love of my life was gone.

They stayed for quite a while longer, leaving when I was able to fully comprehend the news. The Colonel passed me a letter before he left – it had fallen into his hands rather than going through traditional post.

I made sure they both left safely and quietly closed the door behind them before slowly
moving to the living room. I picked up the envelope and stared at it, my lip quivering. It was the last letter he had sent me.

I finally worked up the courage to open it. I peeled off the white envelope and stared at the
paper now in my hands. I took a deep breath and started reading, tears splashing onto the
paper as I held it. He was being medically discharged soon. He was going to be home with me. He was excited to be with me while we had children and lived our lives together, outside of the fear of war.

I dropped the letter on the ground and let out a pained sob. My heart felt like it had just been
ripped out. He was so excited to come home. He was meant to be home in a few weeks, but
he is gone instead. I clutched the letter with one hand and my stomach with the other as my tears continued flowing.

He was never going to be able to meet his son.

author, writing

Taking A Break

I had a week off writing last week. I needed a bit of a break to focus on my teething bubba and take a rest since I’ve been pretty non-stop since September.

It was good to relax a little and take some time away from my writing commitments. Thankfully Uni isn’t back yet so I was able to relax while bub was sleeping.

Heading into this week I’m resuming my writing, weekly blog posts again and back to editing my novel! I’m really excited to get it done ASAP and I want to smash out as much editing as possible before Uni resumes.

It was nice to be able to take a bit of a break and refresh my mind and imagination. I feel like I can concentrate better again and really delve into the world of my characters!

I’ll keep writing new poems or short stories every fortnight to do something different amongst my novel, and I’m enjoying expanding my mind and being creative outside of my novel!

Will see you all next week with a new poem or short story!

author, Short Story, writing

A Powerful Cause: A Short Story

Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. I prefer agreeing with others to avoid confrontation, staying at home to avoid people, and remaining quiet to avoid awkward conversations.

I’ve always been known as the quiet girl, the shy girl. I prefer it that way – I can avoid conversations without being seen as rude and I can happily sit by myself at lunch time. I immerse myself in my books and love the strength and boldness in the characters I read.

I let out a sigh as the bell rang, grateful as the other students piled out of the classroom first. It was finally home time. I hated school – the crowds annoyed me, and the constant chatter was a distraction from my fantasy worlds. The end of the day was always the best part.

I darted up to the pickup zone, eagerly keeping an eye out for mum’s car. She was always there before pickup time; she knew how shy I was and how much I loved leaving school. She was always early for my sake. Except today.

My slight smile disappeared as I scanned the carpark. Her car was nowhere to be seen. I awkwardly shuffled over to the seats and curled into the far end – it wasn’t like my mum to be late. It made me nervous.

An hour passed by slowly, with no sign of her car. I could feel panic rising within me as I continued to watch the driveway, praying that she would arrive at any second. After another few minutes, a car finally rolled down the driveway. It wasn’t mum’s car; it was dad’s car. He worked late so he was never picking me up.

He pulled up in front of me and I quickly jumped into the car. Before I could say a word, I caught a glimpse of my father’s face. His eyebrows were drawn together, and a deep frown settled on his face. His eyes were slightly red, and he looked exhausted.

“Dad?” I muttered nervously. “Why are you picking me up?”

He cleared his throat and gently clasped my hand. “Your mother is with Eliza. She was admitted to the hospital today.”

Eliza is my older sister. Older by 3 years but I always thought I was more mature than her. “Why?” I questioned.

“She collapsed today. She was rushed to the hospital and after numerous tests they discovered why…” he trailed off and took a deep breath, making eye contact with me. “You sister has leukemia.”

My world crashed. I felt pressure on my chest and breathing suddenly became a chore. “She has cancer?”

Dad nodded. “We’re going to go see her now. The doctors have been taking treatment with your mother.” He squeezed my hand. “She’ll be okay, sweetie. The doctors will figure it out.”

I was silent the entire trip to the hospital. I didn’t want to believe it. My sister was immature sometimes and a little bit of a bully to me, but I looked up to her so much. She was my big sister. She was always there for me when I needed her. I couldn’t imagine a world without her.

When we reached the hospital, we quickly made our way to the room my sister was in. She was asleep but looked so ill. I’d never seen her looking so pale or fragile.

Mum pulled me into her arms, holding me tightly. “I’m so sorry you had to wait so long,” she sobbed into my shoulder. “I couldn’t get away, so I had to get your father to get you. I’m so sorry.”

I shook my head and squeezed her back. “I understand mum,” I replied quietly.

I sat by Eliza’s bed and squeezed her hand, she stirred slightly but return to her deep slumber. A doctor soon came in, his eyebrows furrowed as he glanced between us.

“I’ve tested both of you and I’m afraid you’re not a match,” he said quietly.

Mum’s expression darkened and I saw tears slipping out of her eyes again. “Is there no way?”

The doctor shook his head. “We will start looking for a donor, but family is usually the best place to find a match.”

My father gripped my shoulder. “Your sister needs a bone marrow transplant,” he said. “We were hoping that your mother or I would be a match.”

“A sibling does have a higher chance of being a match,” said the Doctor, staring straight at me. “If you would be willing to test, we could see if we can do the transplant.”

I took a deep breath. I knew that would entail surgery and tests for myself. That was terrifying. I gripped my dad’s hand while it rested on my shoulder and nodded. “I’ll get checked,” I said, trying to hide my fear.

It was an uncomfortable test, but not painful. I was grateful that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. And, when the results came back, I was grateful that I was brave enough to get the test. I was a match. It was rare, and the odds were against us. But I was a match.

Courage. It’s hard to have it sometimes. I’m the first to admit I’m a rather cowardly person. But, when it comes to my family, my sister… I would do anything. My bone marrow was a match, I can save her life. For my sister, I can have surgery. I can endure the pain. I can be courageous for her.

author, tips, writing

Ten Tips for Successful Self-Editing

Editing your own novel is not easy. It does take a ton of dedication and resilience to successful edit your own novel and have it ready for publication. I’ve put together a list of the top 10 tips to successfully edit your novel and not let it drive you into insanity.

1. Let it sit

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”

Stephen King

When you finish writing your novel, take a break. Don’t dive straight into editing. I find that you need to remove yourself from the content for a while so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes. You are so focused in on each individual detail that you really do need to take a step back, take a break, and then come back to view the novel as a whole.

Finish your novel and leave it for a few days, a week or a few weeks and then come back to it anew. When you take a break your mind stops being accustomed to what you’ve written and you can see it in a different light.

2. Print it out

I personally find it easier to edit when my novel is in a different format. I print out my work and will go through it with a red pen, like I’m marking it, and edit firstly this way. It really does help to put your work into a different format and see it on paper, rather than just on screen. I often see mistakes easier on paper and can correct things as I go with a red pen, and then change the document on my computer.

3. Read it out loud

You really understand how bad a sentence sounds when you read it out loud. Often you can read a sentence in your head differently than it’s written, since your mind can flip words around so that they make sense. You have no option but to read it exactly as it’s written when you say it out loud. This is effective in recognising bad sentence structure, excessively long sentences and incorrect grammar.

4. Break it into smaller tasks

Don’t tackle your entire novel in one hit – that’s just crazy talk. If you look at your novel without narrowing it down, editing seems impossible. You need to break the editing process up so that the task doesn’t appear unbearable. Edit one or two chapters at a time and give yourself sufficient time in-between chapters to break away from editing.

Focus on small tasks and eventually you will have edited your entire novel. It’s important to take time editing and not try to edit everything at once, because that will just stress you out and you’ll miss a lot of things that could have been changed. Slow and steady wins the race! Break up your novel a chapter at a time and you’ll edit more effectively.

5. Eliminate weak adjectives

I use weak adjectives occasionally in blog writing and some other forms of writing, but never in my novels. Adjectives can be powerful, but sentences can be more powerful without them. Saying ‘it was really good’ sounds quite weak, but when you write ‘it was excellent’, it’s powerful and has more impact. This creates meaningful writing, rather than just filler words.

Using less weak adjectives also creates powerful writing and draws the reader in more. When you’re using strong words, people want to read more. When you use weak adjectives, it can be distracting and make sentences seem less important.

6. Cut long sentences into shorter ones

This is admittingly one of my pet peeves. I can’t stand seeing a sentence that is basically a paragraph long! It’s grammatically incorrect and frustrating to read – I always think ‘when is this sentence going to freaking end?’ when I come across an excessively long sentence.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing without checking grammar – ensure that you have commas and if you can see a lengthy sentence, try to break it up. Two shorter sentences are more powerful than one excessively long sentence.

7. Take a break

Take breaks. Make sure you schedule breaks in and don’t spend every moment of free time editing. You’ll go stir-crazy if you spend every single second of your spare time editing, make sure to give yourself time to rest and get away from editing.

Be careful not to take too much of a break, though. Don’t let one free afternoon turn into two, then a week, and then months of not editing. You don’t want to fall into the procrastination trap, so you need to schedule and be determined to write, but take small breaks as you need them.

I am a master scheduler and I find this really helps in the editing world! I schedule myself time for editing, time for writing and time to relax. I write and edit better when I’ve given myself a day or two to just laze around our go out with friends. Your entire life doesn’t revolve around just editing – there’s plenty of time to get it done so make sure you live your life as well!

8. Don’t be afraid to cut out content

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Dr. Seuss

Having one page of impactful writing is 10x more significant than three pages of fluff. Make your writing purposeful and meaningful – don’t just fill pages with words. It can appear better to have 300 pages, but if 100 of those are useless information or adjectives, it’s better to have 200 pages.

I find I can waffle when I originally write. I can put in useless information and a plethora of meaningless words. You edit to get rid of useless information and create meaningful writing. Let your reader have some imagination in your world and don’t map out every inch of every room.

Keep your content simple and purposeful. Everything you include in your novel should have a purpose, so don’t write just to fill up pages. A smaller, impactful book will sell more than a large book filled with useless information.

9. Use Grammarly

Programs like Grammarly are a godsend! I always pride myself on being good at grammar and punctuation, but even I can miss a bit. Grammarly is an amazing system that picks up mistakes and it is always my first point of call!

I will send my manuscript through Grammarly first, to pick up any mistakes. It is seriously a brilliant program that helps editing so much! I seriously implore you to use this program to assist editing so that your grammar and punctuation can be fixed before you jump into editing. I also recommend sending your manuscript through the program again when you’ve finished re-writes and your last draft, so that it can pick up any new or remaining mistakes.

10. Edit, edit, edit

“Edit your manuscript until your fingers bleed and you have memorized every last word. Then, when you are certain you are on the verge of insanity…edit one more time!”

CK Webb

Don’t edit just once! You need to edit multiple times to perfect your writing. It can be quite tedious but it really is necessary. Three is usually my magic number and I go through my entire novel three times to perfect it to what I want it to be.

I pop it through Grammarly, then edit and rewrite the entire novel three times, and then I pop it through Grammarly again. I find this system works the best for me, but some people edit more than I do.

I struggle a bit with perfectionism so I’ve capped myself at three times so I don’t edit so many times that my novel starts to suffer (over-editing is a very real thing). Three works for me, but find a number that works for you and stick with it. The final run-through is the last and then you should focus on releasing it to the public.

author, Writing

Haunted Dreams: A Poem

Whispers echo through my mind
breaking down a shattered wall
I built it once to save myself
a promise I would never fall.

Little words can mean so much
and tear out a person’s heart
‘I love you’ means the greatest thing
until the meaning comes apart.

Through my twisted thoughts
not a single truth passes
and every moment moving faster
as the life before me crashes.

My heart aches more with every beat
blood flowing thick and strong
my cries search out in darkness
like an untold heartbreak song.

You took all that remained of me
shattered heart and darkened soul
I believed the words you said to me
my pain now burdened as the toll.

If I could savour one last wish
to cleanse myself of what may seem
my only choice flow’s crimson red
and leads me into haunted dreams.

author, University, Writing

Getting Back Into The Groove

“You can make anything by writing.”

C.S. Lewis

Holidays are well and truly behind us now! It’s still surreal to think that we’re in January 2022, but here we are! I’m starting to get back into my groove now and get back into my daily writing routine!

It’s definitely a different routine than I’m used to. I’m used to quite a rigid routine, but with a 3 month old a rigid routine isn’t really possible. His nap lengths vary and some days he sleeps 45 minutes and other days it’s 2 hours. I use his nap times as my writing time, and I have to be flexible about when I write and for how long.

It was definitely easier last year to find time for writing. My priorities did change drastically last year, but I was able to schedule my time and knew when I was working or doing University or writing. Now, it’s anyone’s guess really. My son may have a basic routine, but it can definitely change a lot.

I have had to find time wherever I can. I find he takes his longest naps in the morning, so I try to smash out some writing during that time. I will then usually edit during his afternoon naps, which tend to be about 45mins – 80mins. They are shorter nap lengths so I can edit quickly during that time.

638 Be Flexible Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

I will be putting my son first throughout each day. If he is fussy one day and fighting naps I may not be able to spend time writing. It’s hard for an over-scheduler like me to accept this, but I’ve learnt over the past few months to really be more flexible and not schedule every second of my day.

My schedule will have to change again when Uni goes back. I will have to use his morning nap time as my University time, which means I’ll be writing in the afternoons and when he goes to bed. It’ll be tough juggling all the commitments, but I’m determined to give it a shot and work through it.

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

Annie Proulx

I love writing and it will always be my passion. I want to continue writing throughout my days and I’m sure that because I love it so much, I will find the time.

t’s exhausting, but these times are also fun. I’m eager to go through the year and see how my writing goes amongst my family commitments. It’s going to be a hectic and interesting year for sure!

author, holidays, Writing

Welcome To The New Year!

Enter this new year with a gratitude for this new chance to create your dreams.

Avina Celeste

Hello 2022! It’s crazy that we’re already in 2022. I feel like it was only just 2021. SO much happened last year and it completely flew by me. It didn’t help that Australia continued to be in constant COVID lockdowns for all of 2021. Not being able to do much does make the year kind of fly by, just like having a baby makes time speed up so much.

2022 is already looking so different than 2021! Australia is finally opening up to the rest of the world again and the states are starting to feel less like independent countries. Granted, we are still going up and down with restrictions and lockdowns, but all in all it’s looking a lot better than 2021!

White Calendar on Glass Vase

I have so much planned for 2022. I don’t know how much I will get done, but I’m looking forward to hitting some goals. I am still studying but I also want to put my book into some publishers soon, add a baby on top and my year is going to be crazy!

I am looking forward to finally putting COVID madness behind us and moving forward this year. I’m excited to watch my son grow up and continue to put my effort into my writing and get it out into the world. My plans changed dramatically last year when I found out I was pregnant, but now that my son is here I know I can keep to a plan to edit and publish my book. Other plans go to the wayside since I have such a small child, though.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

There are so many opportunities for 2022 and I can’t wait to see what the year brings. Now that the holiday season is over I’m going to crack down on my writing once again. I always take a bit of a break in December, since it’s such a hectic time, and January is the time to pick it up again!

I really can’t wait to see what 2022 brings. It’s crazy to think it’s already a new year, but bring it on!