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On Wednesday 4th December, me and my husband went to see the band, Muse live in concert.

Their opening act was Birds of Tokyo. I thought I didn’t know many of their songs but was surprised how many I did know. It turns out I’ve heard many of them but didn’t realise it was them. Anyway, they were a good opening act but not great. Their music is great, I can’t fault that. However, the performance of the front man (I don’t even know his name, shocking!) was much to be desired.

To put it bluntly, he danced about like a fairy. As he jiggled around on stave, waving his hands around like he was imitating an airplane, I found myself looking away, unable to stand watching him. As I said, the music was great but I was cringing every  time I saw him ‘dance’. I think Mr Bean would have been a better dancer than him.

So apart from that, great music and I would happily buy their albums now but I won’t see them live in concert again. I’m just glad they were a support act and I didn’t buy tickets just to see them.

On to Muse… well there is only one word that describes their performance. Incredible! The band knows how to put on a great show and front man, Matt Bellamy has so much charisma you can’t not like their performance. It was absolutely breathtaking.

At the end of 2010, I saw Bon Jovi live in Sydney. At the time I deemed that the best concert I had ever seen. He and the band are much like Muse, they just know how to do a great show and Jon’s charisma is on a par with Matt’s. But after seeing Muse, they have surpassed Bon Jovi. It kills me to say it, I’m a huge Bon Jovi fan, but seriously the Muse concert was just, dare I say it again, incredible.

When I say surpassed, it is only by a little bit. They are both brilliant and it is a hard choice. But Muse’s music is very different to Bon Jovi’s and their performance is different. But they definitely both know how to put on a show.

Although I’m very excited to say I”ll be seeing Bon Jovi live in Adelaide next week (Wednesday 11th December) so I will revisit my opinion and decide if I still think Muse are a little better. It’s a tough call!

Has anyone else been to any good concerts lately?

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2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

Okay I’m going to be upfront and tell you one thing that I need to get off my chest: this month has been the hardest month of my life. One part of me almost wants to say ‘I never want to do this again’ but that’s the part of me I’m not listening to. It’s the part of me that’s exhausted after a month of full on writing. It’s a part of me that has just squeezed in 1500 words before bed, on a work night, in a desperate attempt to reach 50,000 words before the end of the night.

The truth is, I will do this again. In 2014 to be exact. 🙂

So the million dollar question is, did I win? And the answer is…YES! I am now considered a NaNoWriMo winner.

So here’s a brief overview of this month:

At the beginning of November I was rearing to go. In week one I was going strong and felt like nothing would stop me. I even thought I could reach 50k in two weeks. Did that happen? No sirree.

Come week two, that determination and ‘going strong’ feeling all but disappeared. Words failed me and I struggled to get any words down. I was beginning to feel quite deflated and unmotivated. It turns out it’s a typical NaNo feeling. Everyone struggles with week two. So unfortunately I really fell behind then.

However, come week three I started to pick up again and that continued through to week four (which we’re still in). I had to jump over a lot of hurdles to get this far. Full time work being the most major one. Then I had a husband to think of, who might I say, was wonderful for the whole thing and very supportive. Then other commitments, religious, social etc. I didn’t want to let any of these things slip so I managed to keep doing them and writing.

So yes, it was a very trying month. It was frustrating, it was fun, it was exhilarating, it made me question all my writing abilities. But it was so worth it.

So you might be asking, what is the point of doing this to myself? It’s not like we get anything for winning NaNoWriMo, right? Well, that’s true, we don’t suddenly become famous and internationally recognised like someone on X Factor. But we get a sense of accomplishment. We get that feeling that we can write a novel, or at least get 50,000 words written in an entire month. That, my friends, is no easy task.

NaNoWriMo is a good way to figure out if you’re truly a writer. Writing is not for everyone and if you get sick of it in the first week, then it’s best to say you won’t be a writer.

Before I finish this blog, I want to say one more thing. NaNo is about setting goals, about reaching 50,000 words. However, it’s not all about reaching 50k for some people. Let’s not forget those passionate writers who spend the whole month writing because it’s what they love but they can’t make 50k because something holds them back. Perhaps they’re ill, perhaps they’ve had family problems, perhaps there has always been something in their way. But that doesn’t mean they’re not passionate. It means they’ve done the best they can and have had a great time.

So to all those people and all NaNo winners, congratulations and all the best on your future writing endeavors.

So this is me, over and out on NaNo blogging. I will be back with more blogs about anything, everything and nothing very soon.

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I have to confess, I’ve been feeling a little deflated up until a few hours ago. You see, the  first week went so well for me. I had reached 20,000 words by the end of week one and I was rearing to go!

However, now that we’re in week two, in fact approaching the end of week two, I’ve come to a standstill. It’s annoying the hell out of me! My current word count is 23,488. *sigh* I had really hoped to meet, or even exceed, the halfway mark by now.

I keep asking myself: have I bitten off more than I can chew? Should I have continued an existing, incomplete novel rather than starting afresh? Then the biggest question of them all… am I really cut out for this?

It doesn’t help that toward the end of last week, and the weekend just gone, have been really hectic. Finding time to write after reaching that 20k mark has been almost impossible. Then I’ve been feeling so exhausted, the desire to write isn’t there.

So needless to say, I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps. But then last night, after voicing my worries on the NaNo facebook page for Adelaide, someone said something to me that made me feel better. He said: Don’t let it get you down. The week two wall hits all of us at one point or another. Stick it out, keep your chin up and just keep battling away. If you can slog your way through it, week three will be upon you in no time and you will start chugging along nicely again.

Well all I can say to that is, thank you! I’m realising now it’s not just me. I never meant to sound selfish and go ‘oh woe is me’ but I didn’t realise this was something that happened to all, or at least most, NaNo participants. I thought I was failing as a writer. That perhaps I had lost my ability to write something good.

But perhaps that’s not the case at all. Perhaps I just need to get over this blip and I’ll be fine. At the moment I’m still on target. Just. But if I can write 20k in one week, what’s to say I can’t do it again in week three?

This new novel I’ve chosen to write is a real challenge for me but when I stop and think about it, it is coming along nicely. I want to see it to completion in November. So this is why I don’t feel so deflated now. I realise that everyone is feeling the same thing. And I realise that I can and want to do this.

Do you know what that means for me? It’s time to stop wallowing in my self-pity and get my butt back in to gear!

Hopefully by the time I post again I will have some happier news! 🙂

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nanowrimo

Well that’s all I really had to ask. 🙂 who’s taking part in NaNoWriMo?

Also, What genre are you planning to write and do you have any idea what you’re going to write about?

Me, I’m a romance writer. This year I’m going to write a tragic romance brought about by an avalanche. This will be a challenge for me as I usually write sweet, happy ending romances. Hurting / killing off any of my characters I grow attached to is so hard. But I almost have my story planned and I’m excited about the challenge.

So anyway, leave your comments below. This isn’t a means to steal ideas. This is just a lighthearted discussion so we can see the varying ideas people have. Perhaps it will give all NaNoWriMo participants a little encouragement.

The best part about NaNoWriMo is that there is nothing you can’t write about. So don’t be afraid of writing ‘out there’ stories, just do it!

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A while ago I wrote a blog titled An important message for writers: show, don’t tell. In this I gave my own experience on how I learnt the very valuable lesson of  ‘show don’t tell’. Today I am here to expand on that and tell you another important thing… it’s okay to have some telling in your novel!

Yes, showing rather than telling is vital to make a story flow well. However, if you have an entire novel of nothing but ‘show’ it’s very tiresome. You need to have a certain amount of telling to make the story enjoyable.

So what has brought this on, you may ask? I recently decided to trial a new critique partner. I already have one, a very good one at that, but I  have been encouraged to trial two or three because everyone has varying amounts of knowledge. Well this new one I got critiqued my first chapter and at every point where there was a bit of ‘telling’ she would highlight it and say ‘this should be shown not told’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I accept criticism well. I’m more than happy to make changes when something isn’t right in my story. But as I read her comments and tried to change the so-called ‘telling’ bits to ‘show’ I realised I couldn’t do it. These parts had to be told. There was no possible way I could ‘show’ them without overdoing it.

So my point is, don’t be afraid to have some telling in your story. You need to be balanced. Make sure you show where it’s possible to do so but back it up with some telling too.

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I always find it fascinating what things people find amusing.

Take today for example. It’s a fairly dreary day in Adelaide, Australia and it’s been raining on and off all morning. I work next to a window so I get to see many weather changes throughout the day. Well at one point this morning, it started to hail. The moment it started, everyone that works on my floor (about 25 of us) all ran to the window to check it out. They were pointing and smiling and saying ‘look! It’s hailing!’

Now why were these people, including me, so amused? We rarely get hail! It’s like snow, we don’t see it often so when we do, we’re awestruck. When I started work this morning it wasn’t very chilly and I think that’s what surprised people most. The chill factor must have lowered enough to cause it to hail.

The other factor is, until the last year or two, we’ve had years of drought. Rain became so scarce people reacted the same way toward rain as they did to the hail. Of course, things have changed now and the drought isn’t as bad as it once was. Still, we’re amused by these little things because we either don’t get it often, or once upon a time we had to live without it.

Amusement is a funny thing I find.

What amuses you?

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show don't tell

Anton Chekhov once said ‘don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’

It’s only been in recent years that I’ve realised how true this is. The rule of show, don’t tell is one of the most important rules to remember as a writer. And I’m afraid to say, for a long time I didn’t understand it.

When I was about 20 years of age, I wrote a novel which I thought was fabulous. I was so proud of it and wanted everyone to read it and tell me how brilliant I was. In my mind, I viewed myself as a prodigy. The next ‘big thing’ in the writing world.

Naive? Most certainly!! Now, at 31 years of age, I have learnt a lot. What was the result of that so-called ‘fabulous novel’?

Well, I decided to submit the novel to a writers forum and get feedback. I was adamant I would get a flood of followers and publishers begging to publish my work. Did any of that happen? Not a chance!

I received many comments on the forum but no one was complimenting my flawless writing. Instead they all said it was clunky, badly written and had too much telling.

It was the ‘too much telling’ that had me baffled, but I’ll get back to that. For now, I’ll finish the story.

Let’s say I was horrified! I was convinced they were jealous and wanted to be nasty. But they weren’t. In fact, they made completely valid comments. It took me a long time to get over that criticism but I did and I came out of it a much stronger and better writer.

What did I learn from it?

I learnt how to accept criticism. This is vital as a writer. You cannot afford to be offended by harsh words. You’re going to get them!

I learnt to stop thinking I was such a good writer when, quite frankly, I wasn’t. My current skills, which still need a lot of work, have come from many years of practice. I am much, much better than I was back then but I’m not perfect. Every writer has their off days!

And most importantly, I finally understood what it meant to show, not tell. Oh it took me a few years to fully understand it but I did and now I live by it.

For a long time I thought how can you ‘show’ when writing a novel? Isn’t writing all about telling a story? Well, yes but you can tell a story so that it paints a picture for the reader. When I realised that, it became that much clearer to me.

There’s nothing wrong with telling occasionally. After all, it’s impossible to show everything.

Since meeting Katie Fforde (see my previous blog Meeting the author – Katie Fforde) I have gone to her for quite a lot of advice. At one point I asked her: ‘I know how important showing and telling is but does it matter how much show and how much tell there is?’ Her answer to me was: ‘It’s important to have much more show than tell. A bit of tell is ok as it saves time but it should be mostly show.’

I was critiquing someone’s work recently and one of their sentences read ‘My eyes automatically travel to the worn out and faded sign above the heavy steel doors’. The first thing I thought, this could be ‘shown’ in such a better way. Later in the story she had a scene where a little girl left the building and got her dress stuck in the door. I suggested to the author to say something like ‘I look over at Abigail and see her dress caught in the heavy steel doors’. It’s not a big change but it’s a perfect opportunity to show what the door looks like rather than tell us.

Oh and in case you are interested, the story mentioned in my blog has been totally rewritten. It is ten times better than it once was. I stripped it apart and fleshed it out. In fact, this is a piece I hope to get published in the near future.

So now that I’ve chewed your ear off with yet another example of how pathetic I was as a young writer, I will end my blog on this note:

Please remember, showing is so important in a novel. You will be surprised how much more alive your story becomes.

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I decided to blog about something different today. It’s not about writing this time. Instead, it’s about routines. Who has a routine they stick to?

I think we all do. Who sticks to it religiously though?

Routines are funny things. Some people don’t have them because they feel they don’t need them. I’m envious of those people! But the truth is I only have one routine I religiously follow. That is my morning routine. Do you know why? It’s simple. Mornings are not my friends.

I’m a night owl, not a morning person. When a morning comes around and I have to wake up to an alarm, it’s like my worst nightmare. The only thing that helps me get through the morning is by sticking to this routine that I have. If I don’t stick to it, it totally ruins my day. I feel rattled and like I’m doing everything backwards. It’s the worst feeling in the world.

So what is this routine I follow?

Well, it all starts when my alarm goes off at 5:30am. Of course I hit the snooze button. Then I spend the next nine minutes trying to waken myself from my zombie-like state. Then at 5:39am, the alarm sounds again. By this point I am a little more lucid but far from responsive.

I stay in bed for a few more minutes then finally crawl out at 5:44am. First I go to the toilet then I jump straight in the shower. While I’m in the shower, my husband gets my lunch and makes me my morning cuppa.

My husband is wonderful. He insists on getting up with me even though he doesn’t need to. He works for himself so he can lie in if he wants to but he refuses. He doesn’t like staying in bed when I have to get up and go to work. He’s so sweet like that.

Once I’m showered, I style, blow dry and straighten my hair. Just a quick off topic comment – my hair isn’t curly. Technically it’s straight but it’s not the sort of straight that will dry perfectly into position. I have this one wave that makes my hair kink like crazy. If I don’t style it, it looks terrible. So I spend a good 20 minutes on my hair getting it just right.

When that is done, I go back to my room. I take five minutes out to drink my cuppa and have a bit of a chat with my husband. We’re both terrible morning people but we still manage to hold a civilised conversation. After that I get ready.

This is where you’re going to roll your eyes and go ‘I can’t believe she does that’!

I get ready in a certain order. My underwear goes on first. Then my right sock, followed by my left. My trousers go next. Before putting my top on, I go to brush my teeth then I put it on. I don’t trust myself. I dribble toothpaste all the time. It’s embarrassing.

Then finally, I pack my bag, kiss my husband goodbye and leave for the bus. By this point it’s 6:40am and my bus arrives at 6:44am.

Once I arrive at work, approximately 6:55am, the first thing I do is turn my computer on. This takes forever because our computers are dinosaurs. We’re still on Windows XP and my hard drive still has a floppy disk drive. Embarrassing, much?

While that is doing its job, I fill up my water bottle. This only takes 30 seconds at most and by the time I sit down at my desk, my computer isn’t even on the welcome screen. By the time my logon screen and I actually log on, it’s almost 7:10am. Yes, it takes that long.

I take another five minutes to check my emails, check the news then I’m ready to start my day.

As I said, routines are funny things. But without this routine, every morning and every day would be a trial. I have to admit that when my routines go right, which is most days, my days at work are more tolerable. Of course there are moments when my routine flops but they are few and far between. Thank goodness too because seriously, my days are terrible when that happens!

So tell me, am I the only one that sticks to religious routines like this? What other type of weird and wacky routines are there? Let me know!

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Today I thought I would blog about characters and where people get their inspiration from. My aim is to get an insight on how other writers create them and hopefully help fellow writers who struggle with character creation. I know for some people, character creation can be a difficult task.

Being an avid reader of many books,  I’m always intrigued at what possessed the author to create certain characters.

Is the character based on the author? Is the character based on a friend, family member, enemy? Is it someone entirely of their imagination and has no relevance to people / things they know?

Take for example Gollum in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. What was Tolkien thinking when he created him? He’s such an unusual character and I really wish I knew. It’s funny, I had never really thought much about it but today I was watching The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey and it got me thinking. Hence this blog.

This is something that has always intrigued me. To me, character development is the most exciting part of creating and writing a novel. You can create anyone you want and make them who you want them to be. I get a thrill just writing about it!

So where do I get my character inspiration from? It’s simple – everything and everyone around me!

I use people I know – family, friends, work mates, acquaintances. Sometimes I’ll sit somewhere outdoors and just watch the goings on around me. This allows me to see how people act and I find I can gauge a lot about their personality. I listen to the way people talk, what they talk about and this gives me an idea of who my character will be. Will they be shy, giggly, outspoken, selfish, argumentative?

On wattpad.com I have a completed story called The Matchmaker. The main female character, Shannon, was an easy yet exciting character to create. One day I was watching Jane Austen’s Emma and the character of Emma was the type of person I imagined Shannon to be. Not wanting to plagiarise, I tweaked her to make her unique. In looks she has a bit of me in her when I was a teenager, a bit of my 16-year-old niece, a bit of my middle sister and a bit of my best friend. In personality she has a bit of Emma, a bit of my ex-best friend, a bit of my eldest sister and even a bit of a workmate.

Off topic just briefly – if you wish to read the story, go to the website and search for my username LisaStanbridge.

On topic again. The example of Shannon is just one example of one character but you get the gist of what I mean.

So this is my question to my fellow writers who are readers / followers – where do you get your character inspiration from? Leave a comment below. I hope that between me and the rest of you, we can provide some interesting reading to fellow writers and help to those who struggle to create characters.

If you read how other people create them, it might help you too or give you some new ideas. So, please leave a comment, let everyone know what inspires you!

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Sorry for not blogging sooner. A combination of work and illness has kept me away.

Anyway, today’s blog will only be fairly short.  I wanted to let you all know how my 24 hour writing stint went. Yes that’s right, I dedicated a full 24 hours to writing and nothing else. Oh of course, I took regular breaks for food, bathroom, stretching etc. because, let’s face it, I’m not a robot but that was all. I didn’t get needlessly sidetracked by anything else.

So how did I go? Well I’m proud to say I succeeded! I started at 10:40am yesterday (9th July 2013) and I finished at 10:40am today. My main concern was how I would go once it got later in the night. I’m a night owl but only to a certain degree. Once  it reaches midnight or 1am, I struggle to stay awake. That was the main thing I was worried about.

Last night though (or should it be this morning?), for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have any problems! I felt wide awake the whole time. When 1am came around, I felt wide awake and the same for 2am, 3am and so on. The only sign of tiredness I felt was at 6am. I could feel myself flagging but I refused to give up, I was so close! It was such a great feeling when it reached the 24 hour mark and I could stop. What an achievement!

So how  did I keep myself going? Well I drank a whole bottle of Moet, had many cups of coffee and ate a lot of unnecessary midnight snacks. It worked though as it meant I had energy to keep writing.

What did I do in that 24 hours? Well I wrote down some ideas for new stories I have in mind. I also edited a story I plan to get published. I had a few important tweaks I needed to make to it and the ideas were flowing so it was nice to finally get them down. Needless to say, the 24 hours was well spent.

I said earlier that it felt like an achievement to me. I’m guessing that not everyone will view this sort of thing as an achievement and that’s fine, it’s not to some people. To me though, it is an achievement. I had 24 hours of uninterrupted writing time which is so rare for me. It was bliss and I got so much done!

Initially I had hoped to spend the 24 hours writing a new story but that didn’t happen. At the end of the day, I had to go with what was flowing in my mind and that’s what I did.

Will I do it again? Hell yes! I loved every minute of it. It won’t be any time soon as I need to recover but I will make a future plan. I will confess that this afternoon at midday I had a two hour nana nap because I was so tired, but it was so worth it. I definitely want to do it again because it’s rare I get a chance like this.

If you’re up for a challenge, I would highly recommend giving it a go. Have a plan in mind for what you would like to do in that time. You don’t want to sit staring at your screen for hours on end. BUT if you don’t follow your plan, it doesn’t matter. The plan is there just to ensure you follow through with the project, I guess you can call it. If you write / edit something else, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re dedicating that time to writing.

If you do it, good luck! If not, well wish me luck for next time!

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