Happy Australia Day folks!

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By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Today is Australia Day, or as some like to call it…

“STRAYA DAY”

It’s a day where us Aussies celebrate being Aussies, sharing lamb on the BBQ and passing out the beers (or cokes, if you’re underage).

It’s also a day when many, many migrants become Australian citizens, choosing to claim Australia, the only island continent, as their new home and pledging allegiance to the Australian flag.

This was something I did about thirteen years ago, and boy, I have never regretted it. Not even for a second. I may have been born and raised in South Africa, but I am an Australian citizen and proud of it. I’m not saying I turned my back on my birth country, I’m just saying I have embraced the Australian way of life and everything about it with both hands. You know the saying, when in Rome…

I’m the person driving a Ford Falcon XR6 turbo with the Australian flags hanging off the back windows, Australian flag side mirror covers, and blasting “I come from the land downunder” through my stereo as I drive into town. I’m only slightly patriotic to my adopted flag (major understatement), and I think sometimes I embarrass my Australian born hubby with my enthusiasm.

However, there’s more to being an Australian than that. When you pledge the citizenship oath, there’s just something about it that rocks the heart. Most Australian born citizens don’t even know this pledge, which makes me pretty sad. I think all Australians, born here or not, should learn it and memorise it and remember what being a citizen of this amazing country is all about.

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Photo taken by Cr. Glenn Tozer of Division 9, Gold Coast City Council

As an Australian citizen,

I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,

whose democratic beliefs I share,

whose rights and liberties I respect,

and whose laws I uphold and obey.

And even though our family is not out celebrating with other Australians today (thanks to the torrential rain and crazy winds here at the moment), I still took the time to pause and remember what being an Australian is really all about. I hope you did too, if you are from this wonderful country, whether you reside here currently or not.

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In other STRAYA day news, The Aussie Owned and Read blog has finally been launched! WOOHOO!!!

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8 Aussie writers taking on the YA and NA literary world from an Australian point of view. Starting Monday there will be an introductory post a day from each of the bloggers (including myself…SQUEEEEE…I feel totally inadequate compared to the amazing ladies on the team).

There will be competitions, advice, interviews, reviews and all sorts of other bookish goodness. So jump on over, read the launch post and click to follow.

That’s it from me, so if you’re an Aussie – HAPPY STRAYA DAY TO YA! If not – DITTO!

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Liebster Blog Award!

I’m feeling totally loved at the moment. The lovely Amber A Bardan of http://amberabardan.blogspot.com.au has nominated me for yet another award, The Liebster award.

Now, I do believe this is an award not to be scoffed at. It is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers (i.e. yours truly).

It is to get the word out about their blogs and to show them some LURVE.

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Rules

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator and create 11 questions for your nominees;

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserves to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

11 Questions for me:

1.  Describe your current MS in three sentences.

Uh…which one? LOL…I have about 5 or 6 current MS’s. Okay, I’ll go with the one I have no name for and I’ll do three dot points:

* It has a loose history tied to the book Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

* It has vampires in it (you have to guess who they are!).

* The MC is an Australian girl who has just finished year twelve and is headed to England for a gap year.

2. What is the most important thing you try to achieve within your own writing?

The voice. It is one thing I agonise over every time. Does the voice fit the character? Whose voice is the story written in? Does he sound a bit like a girl? DO I need to fix that?

3. What has been your biggest writing high?

Well, being un-agented and unpublished, never-mind unfinished, I think it was being asked to be part of the Aussie Owned and Read blogging team (launching in three days peeps…3 DAYS!!!!!)

4. What are your three favourite books?

Why only three, I have so many! Alright, in no particular order:

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

5. What is the primary focus of your blog?

I guess to share my stuff. You know, thoughts, excerpts things I like. I like to talk…a lot. So I guess it helps with the word quota thing too LOL

6. Name three interesting bloggers/tweeters that you would like to know better.

Emily – @ekmarquart  – she drinks tea…nuff said

Cassandra Page – @cassandrapage01 – she cracks me up…and if you crack me up then you’re a good egg in my book.

Lauren McKellar – @LaurenKMcKellar – I’m starting to get to know her better as we start alpha reading for each other (also she is one of the great minds behind Aussie Owned and Read – THREE DAYS PEOPLE!!!)

7. What is the single best piece of writing advice you have ever heard/read?

Read, read and read some more.

8. How would you sum up your writing experience?

SLLLOOOOOWWWWWWW. I always thought I would be able to bash out a novel in a couple of weeks. Boy was I wrong! Although, in saying that I have loved (almost) every minute of it.

9. What’s your plan for publication? Query agents, Submit direct to publishers or self pub and why?

Originally the plan was to go straight for self publishing. But I am thinking now that I might query first and self pub later.

10. What’s been your biggest challenge as a writer?

My self- confidence. It’s never been fantastic.

11. What keeps you going?

I have a dream…oh and my dad and hubby keep up the encouragement. It took hubby a long time to ‘get it’ but now he’s all “come on babe…you need to finish your book.” I think he just wants me to make some money already (even though that is not why I am doing it).

NOMINEES:

Okay, this part was really hard for me, as most of the people I was going to nominate are so freakin’ awesome they have already been nominated o_O

Anyway, you should follow them at the very least, because they rock!

1. Tim Clarke

Writer of YA Fiction. Sourdough baker, Self-sufficiency wanabe..Public Service Escapee, pun maker, (also, he dislikes poor service as much as I do and he comes from Brisbane, which is only an hour from me!)

Blog: http://writer-tim.tumblr.com/ Twitter: writer_tim

2. Amy Cavenaugh

Thriller writer

Blog: http://amycavenaugh.blogspot.com.au/ Twitter: @AmyCavenaugh

3. Abby Cavenaugh

Writer and chocolate eater – yes!

Blog: http://myupsndowns.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @abswrites

4. Chynna-Blue Scott

Aspiring writer and lover of the supernatural

Blog: http://chynnablueink.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @jordanchynna

5. K. A. Last

On the Aussie Owned and Read team and just released her novel “Fall for Me.”

Blog: http://www.kalastbooks.com.au/ Twitter: @KALastBooks

6. Katie Teller

YA author and another Aussie Owned and Read member!

Blog: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com.au/ Twitter: @KatieTeller1

7. Lauren McKellar

Editor and aspiring author and one of the masterminds behind Aussie Owned and Read (did I mention it is 3 days til launch?)

Blog: http://laurenswrittenword.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @LaurenKMcKellar

8. Jennifer

From the UK…that’s cool in itself.

Blog:  http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @jennybennyk

9. Alexandra Diane

She has amazing short stories on her blog!

Blog:  http://Alexandradiane.com Twitter: @BareFoot_Writer

10. and I’m out of people I know LOL. Sorry. 

Oh yes, it might be helpful to have some questions wouldn’t it?

1.  What is your favourite genre to read and why?

2. Who is your all time favourite book bad guy?

3. What music do you listen to when you write, if any?

4. Who or what is your inspiration?

5. What is your writing goal for this year?

6. What outside distractions irritate you the most when you’re reading or writing?

7. Favourite place to read?

8. Favourite place to write?

9. If you could be any book character, who would you be and why?

10. Name one author you would love to meet in real life.

11. Start to finish when writing a MS? Or do you have several on the go at once?

One Lovely Blog Award

So, I have been tagged by the beautiful Amber Bardan in the One Lovely Blog Award…

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The Rules

1. You must share seven things about yourself

2. You must pass the award to seven other bloggers

So here goes with my seven things:

1.  I am beyond terrified of spiders – give me a snake any day, but a spider will have me screaming and climbing the walls like a madwoman.

2. My dad was the person who encouraged me to start writing. He self-published his first novel last year and he has always had my back.

3. I just rang and cancelled a job interview for my almost dream job so that I could stay at home and be a good mum to my kids while hubby starts a new job which requires him to live away during the week. I didn’t want them wasting their time on me if I know I’m not going to take the job if it’s offered. So I will continue being a relief teacher for a little while.

4. Last year I read over 200 books (e books and hard copy books) – drove my hubby batty.

5. I have four manuscripts on the go, all at different stages. I like to have a few going at once because I get The Block very easily and I find the best way to ‘unblock The Block’ is to work on something else.

6. I am very crafty. I can sew, I can scrapbook, I can cook (well, sort of), I can make stuff…although, I rarely finish a project. I get bored very easily.

7. I would rather spend my hubby’s money on books than on clothes (although shoes come in at a close second).

The seven people I tag are:

Well, you see, herein lies the problem…I don’t know that many bloggers, and the ones I do know have already been tagged. So if you would like to be tagged, leave a comment on this post and I will tag you 🙂

Hope that wasn’t too boring for you 🙂

On critique partners

So I was feeling brave and sent a request out into the Twitterverse for a critique partner. I honestly don’t know what came over me. Maybe it had something to do with my self-doubt. Maybe I needed someone to tell me that my writing was okay, and that I shouldn’t give up. Heck, maybe my ego was feeling a bit deflated and needed a boost. I don’t know, but I did it anyway.

Within the hour I had myself a bonafide CP, a certain Mr J. M. Bray, ready to take the first part of my messy manuscript into his very capable hands. That’s when the terror hit me, square in the chest. Oh my goodness! What have I done! This was all I could think for the next day. My heart felt like lead in my chest and I felt like I was going to break down in an all out panic attack at any moment. Why did I think I was ready for this? Why did I think my manuscript was ready for this?

I was still in bed, trying to break through my morning fog, when my phone tinkled, signalling that I had received an email. Not uncommon by any standards. I get many emails during the night and early in the morning. All day even (well, imagine that). I did what I would normally do of a morning. I rubbed my eyes, trying to clear my fogged up contact lenses without rubbing too hard and losing them behind my eyeballs, and opened up the email on my phone. What I read was enough to make me leap out of bed and race to the study to have a proper look at my inbox. There, sitting nice and bold on the top of my inbox, was a new email from my critique partner.

I sucked in a breath and held it, my heart leaping into my throat in horror. Oh my gosh! He’s read it and he’s probably going to tell me it stinks and I need to quit…NOW! Woodenly, I sat down in my big vinyl computer chair and laid my sweaty palm on the mouse. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make my finger click the mouse button to open the email. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and took in another big breath, blowing it out softly through pursed lips.

“Uh, you right?” my hubby asked in his sexy Aussie drawl, making me jump almost clean out of my skin.

“Fine, just fine…my contact slipped and I was trying to move it back into place.” This was sort of true. They do that early in the morning and closing my eyes helps sometimes.

“Okay, whatever,” my hubby replied with a quizzical expression.

As soon as he walked away I forced myself to open the email. Stop being such a melodramatic princess. If it sucks, then at least you know before you released it out into the world to be ripped to shreds by the general public. True, but still, I was afraid of what the email would say.

I read the email, tears welling as I was sure it would be full of negative comments. Wait, hang on…what? I read it again, more slowly this time, and my breathing hitched as the tears started to slide down my cheeks. These were not tears of sadness or hurt feelings, these were tears of pure joy. My work was okay. Sure, it had holes and glaringly obvious errors in the story line, but it was fixable and workable.

Now I can’t wait for Mr. Bray to email me with more of his comments on my work as he goes through it. Sure, sharing your work with someone, and having it picked at is hard. That work is your baby that you’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months, heck, even years working on and you can tend to be a bit protective of it. Trust me though, it is much better to have it done behind closed doors, than have the public do it in front of the world.

So, in summary, yes, it is most terrifying asking for someone to critique your work for you, but it is also sooooo worth it. If you consider yourself a writer, then I suggest you get yourself a CP, have a good hard think about the constructive criticism they give you, and then,

Suck it up, Princess!