I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, January 31, 2011

Random Factoids About...Interesting Stuff

Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.

 "Go", is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.


 No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.

The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The penguin is the only bird which can swim, but not fly.


"Bookkeeper" is the only word in English language with three consecutive Double letters.

The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every Letter in the English language.


And, courtesy of The Blogger Formerly Known As: the word, iouea contains all five vowels and no other letters.

Friday, January 28, 2011

So what does being a Crusader involve?

As per my Crusade heads-up post last week, my Second Writers' Platform-Building Crusade will begin next Friday, February 4, 2011. For those who haven't heard of the Crusade, check it out here and here.

In this post I thought I'd tell you a bit more about the Crusade, and what you can expect if you come on board as a Crusader (and you're all very welcome, the more the merrier!).

In a nutshell (Help, I'm in a nutshell! *chortles*), the Crusade is a way for you to meet your fellow bloggers and get to know them better, while at the same time getting support in your blogging. It's also a way for you to increase your followers quite significantly (though please don't join just for that, this is about networking and platform-building rather than increasing follower numbers)

The Crusaders are people who genuinely want to meet others, pay it forward, and make connections with other bloggers. This therefore gives you a pool of bloggers (some starting out, some established) who you know are in the same position. You can make friends, find critique partners, get support in your writing etc etc - basically, it's up to you. For those bloggers who are just starting out (and even those who've been blogging for a while), the Crusade gives you a head start in finding other like-minded bloggers to connect with.

If you want to become a Crusader - 

(1) follow me if you haven't already, so you can keep in touch with all the Crusade Biz(ness) (posted on Fridays) and take part in Crusade Challenges etc.
(2) keep an eye out for my post on Friday, February 4. Comment on that post so people know you're taking part, then fill out the form (you may wish to "subscribe by email" to that post so you can see when new Crusaders come on board). I'll be posting a list of Crusaders and links to their blogs in my List of Crusaders on Rach Writes... as soon as I can after Feb 4.
(3) post about the Crusade, so you can help spread the word to your followers.

Once you are a Crusader - 

(1) follow all the other Crusaders (keep an eye on my List of Crusaders page at the top of Rach Writes... so you know when new Crusaders are added to the list or else "subscribe by email" to my original Crusade post (Feb 4)).
(2) once I've posted the List of Crusaders, check who is in your Crusader Group, pop round to their blogs, and leave a comment to introduce yourself.
(3) if you wish, pop round to some or all of the other Crusaders and introduce yourself as well.
(4) put a Crusade button on your blog sidebar (I use the above picture for all my Crusade stuff so feel free to use that one) and link it back to my Writers' Platform-Building Crusade page at the top of Rach Writes...
(5) some Crusaders like to put a blog roll on their sidebars that links to all the Crusaders. Others just use my List of Crusaders page to find the Crusaders. Original Crusaders, you might need to update your current blog rolls once the new List of Crusaders is published.
(6) keep an eye out for posts by other Crusaders (and particularly those in your Crusade Group) and do your best to comment on as many as you can, as often as you can. This is one of the key ways Crusaders will help each other out and pay it forward.
(7) join in the Crusader Challenges if you wish (I'm hoping to run one every second or third Friday). It's a great way to get to know the other Crusaders and have fun at the same time. I'll be offering prizes like last year - at this stage a Crusader Challenge Winner button (if I can get my act in gear and work out how to design one!) + an interview on Rach Writes...

So... Any questions? Any suggestions for Crusader Challenge ideas or prizes? Any other comments or suggestions? 

Only a week to go, woot!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When showing interferes with your story (I know, right!)

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling with my manuscript revisions. And I don’t just mean “struggling,” I mean capital S-t-r-um-uggling!!! I have the structure of this Part down, and I’ve got everything happening when and where it’s supposed to be happening. But as one of my fantastic critique partners pointed out, I’m still lacking a certain something. And are they going to let that slide. Not on your life! Hugs.

After various conversations, we finally narrowed it down to the dreaded “Show not Tell”. What can I say? Everyone knows the rule. Don’t tell what’s happening in the story, show it instead. Paint a picture in the reader’s mind so they can see, smell, hear, taste, and touch the characters and the story.

But that’s where I’ve been going wrong.


Our recent conversation went something like this (edited a little for dramatic effect of course):

Me: “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Everyone says I should show not tell. And I’m doing that. Look, I’ve got Verity doing this, this, this, and this, and the readers can interpret her emotions from her actions. And I’ve got her thinking this and this, so we know what’s going on in her mind as well.”

Most-patient critique partner: “But you’re still not showing enough. Show us more, delve into her psyche.”

Distraught me: “I’ve done that.” Plaintive wail. “Look, here’s an example paragraph. See. Here, here, here and here. Showing. No backstory, no exposition, no flashbacks, no telling. I’ve followed all the rules. So how am I supposed to show anymore?”

Most-wise critique partner: “Hmm.” Picture an evil glint in her eye and fingers being drummed on the desk while she plots and plans. No, I made that bit up. Honest! “Here, I’ll have a go at rewriting your paragraph for you. I’ll show you.” (She didn’t really say that last bit, but I’m chortling as I add it in – poetic license and all that).

Nervous me: “Go ahead,” I say. And I bite my nails until the reply comes back, beautifully formatted in concise little paragraphs and lots of...wait...is there telling in there? And some backstory? And a hint of a tiny flashback? What’s going on? My world is ending. I can’t cope. The rules. THE RULES. WHAT ABOUT THE RULES???

Laughing critique partner: “Ah, those rules,” she says. “Well, they’re more like guidelines really.” I pictured a snigger at that stage, and maybe a little rubbing of the hands. “And you are following the rules, but it reads more like a shopping list. She went there, and she did this, and she bought a trolley-full of canned tuna. And she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth, and the reader therefore knows she’s really angry at something.”

Crushed me: I slink down lower in my chair and I ask in a teensy voice. “You mean, it’s ok to tell sometimes? And add in backstory?”

Most understanding critique partner: “Sometimes,” she says. “It needs to be functional. What you’re doing is following all the rules very carefully (ooh look, adverb!), and being too obvious in doing so. So lighten up a little (I added that bit), let the story flow, and don’t be afraid to add in a little bit of telling or backstory here or there if the story needs it."

Lightbulb-moment me: “Aaaaaaaahhhh.”


And there you have it. Maybe now I can write a little more soul into my manuscript...

How about you. Do you ever have any trouble with “Show not Tell?” Do you follow all the rules a little too carefully (oops, adverb!)? What are your best tips on practical ways to apply the writing “rules” and/or "Show not Tell?"

Don't forget...

...to enter our Trilogy Contest! It closes January 31st, and you can win one of 12 critiques + some pretty cool books (The Mockingbirds, Unearthly, and Across The Universe to be exact). Here are the critiques*:

3 x query or synopsis (max. 2 pages) critiques (winner's choice)
3 x first 300 words critiques
3 x first 3 pages critiques
3 x first 30 pages critiques

*For the picture book writers, I'll convert any of the above prizes into a picture book critique! And if you win a 30 page critique, I'll critique 3 of your picture book wips instead!!!

To enter, you need to be a follower of each of Marieke, Tessa's, and my blogs. You'll also need to fill out this form. Extra points are up for grabs for blogging/tweeting, and you can come back and fill out this bonus form for further points.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Crusade heads-up...

Well, we've hit the ground running in the new year, and the time is rapidly approaching for my Second Writers' Platform-Building Crusade to kick off. For those who haven't heard of the Crusade, check it out here and here.

Basically, the Crusade is a way to link aspiring writers, beginner bloggers, industry people, and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms.

The Crusaders are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs.

Last year (my First Crusade) we had 55 Crusaders, many of whom have become great blogging friends. We saw our followers skyrocket and the comments on our posts increase, and had fun taking part in the Crusade Challenges as well (kartofflepuffer anyone???).

I'll be calling the Crusade on Friday, February 4, 2011 (US time), and will be posting a form for you to complete if you want to join (original Crusaders will need to complete the form too, so I know whether you want in or not). I'm designating Fridays on Rach Writes... as my official Crusade day, so Crusaders can keep an eye out for Crusader Challenge posts and Crusade Biz(ness).

I'm going to try giving the Crusade a set time-frame, 3 months at this stage, though I know a number of Crusaders keep on with the Crusade even after my official organization ends. Join in early if possible so you get the most out of it. I'll call additional Crusades later in the year if interest remains high.

I'll be dividing Crusaders into sub-groups this time, so you can connect with those in your own genre as well as with other Crusaders. It will also make commenting and supporting fellow Crusader's blogs more manageable.

A number of you have said you want to take part, so keep an eye out for my post to join. Can't wait to see you on board!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

5 Things To Do While Waiting For Your Tea To Brew

Here's a confession for you: I haven't had a cup of coffee in 10 years. I know, I know. But when you're putting loads of sugar in it just to disguise the taste, something's got to give I think! For all the other tea drinkers out there (and I'm sure there are many of you), here are 5 things to do while you wait for your tea to brew. And we all need a cuppa before we can get to our writing of course!

• Bash the teabag with a spoon to try to make the tea go brown quicker.


• Eat the biscuit you were going to have with your cuppa, so you have to eat another one later.


• Finish drinking the cup of tea someone else made for you ten minutes ago.


• Hunt desperately in the fridge for some milk that doesn’t smell like it’s evolved into cheddar.


• Go buy a coffee from Starbucks instead.


Sound familiar anyone?

Source for this tea list


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The internet and I are friends again...

Woohoo, I'm back and connected, so watch out world!!!

What I feel like doing right now! (Source)

Thanks to everyone for your comments over my last few blog posts. I'm hoping to get round and say hi very soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What can't you live without???


I've realized over the last couple of weeks that (*cough*) I'm addicted to the internet. I get a little antsy when I can't check my email regularly, and it's even worse when I know I have an email waiting for me that I can't open. I start pacing when I can't keep in touch with all my blogging friends. Have they noticed I haven't visited for a while? What if they blog about something I want to read? I feel frustrated when I can't check in with my critique group. Miss you guys!

So it's been an experience for me to move to a new house that's situated in a communications black hole. Why would they build a new development/suburb and not consider communications beforehand??? Our previous internet/phone provider thought they could connect us but couldn't, so we've had to change providers and it's been great fun trying to cancel our contracts without termination fees! And we still haven't been connected yet, even after all that.

I'm relying on a pre-paid mobile broadband internet usb stick thingy, but in a house where the signal is almost non-existent (and moves all the time), I've had to be very creative in order to get connected. I should have taken a picture of some of the places I've finally got the internet to connect. Standing in the garage with the laptop on a tall packing box! Standing in front of our glass cabinet with the laptop above my head, typing by touch!! Holding the usb stick thingy (attached by a cord to increase coverage) above my head while I type one-handed!!! It's been an experience!

And I guess it's made me realize how much I rely on the internet in my daily life. It's such an amazing technological advance, and one which I often take for granted. No longer I think...

What about you, is there anything you can't live without? Are you dependent on the internet, or would you be happy to go without it for a few days/a week/a month?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Queensland Flood Crisis

I've been having internet connection problems lately as a result of my move, so I haven't been able to blog much. But I just wanted to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Queensland during this terrible time. My whole family lives in Brisbane, and I lived there myself for 10 years; I've visited, worked at, or lived in many of the areas that are now flooded or under threat. I also know some bloggers who live in or around the area, and I'm praying they're all right. I'm so devastated to hear about the many dead and missing, with much worse yet to come. It's scary to think that such destruction can happen...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Random Factoids About...Random Stuff

A little light entertainment:

• The longest (common) word that can be typed on the top row of a typewriter is ‘typewriter’.

•  Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

•  The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.


• St Johns Wood is the only Underground station to share no letters with the word ‘mackerel’.

• Donkeys kill more people each year than plane crashes.

• Hull City is the only football league team whose name you can’t colour in with a biro.

• It is possible to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs.


• The name of every continent ends with the same letter with which it begins.

• All American presidents have worn glasses, although not all have done so in public.

• The theme tune to Some Mothers Do Ave Em is Some Mothers Do Ave Em in Morse Code.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trilogy Contest (+ Giveaways Galore!)

2010 was quite the year for us...

We started blogging
We made character sketches
We attended WriteOnCon
We outlined (or not)
We found each other as critique partners
We wrote and wrote and wrote
We ripped our WIPs to shreds and glued them back together

We blogged more
And we wrote

And we plotted!

You've all seen our teasers, the something that's coming from far away to shake up the blogosphere. Now, at long last, something is here. Something x 3.

We're happy, excited, and thrilled to announce our Trilogy Contest. Your chance to win one of a gigantic stack of amazingly awesome prizes.

And here they are*:

3 x query or synopsis (max. 2 pages) critiques (winner's choice)
3 x first 300 words critiques
3 x first 3 pages critiques
3 x first 30 pages critiques

*For the picture book writers, I'll convert any of the above prizes into a picture book critique! And if you win a 30 page critique, I'll critique 3 of your picture book wips instead!!!

Rather have a book? We've thought about that too! If more than 50 people enter the Trilogy Contest, we'll share some of our favorites/dying to reads.

So Marieke will give away a copy of... The Mockingbirds
Tessa will give away a copy of... Unearthly
And I will give away a copy of... Across The Universe

To enter, you need to be a follower of each of Marieke, Tessa's, and my blogs. You'll also need to fill out this form.

The Trilogy Contest will end on January 31 and winners will be randomly drawn and announced the following week (only one prize per person). We'll be giving extra entries to those who blog, tweet, or otherwise spread the word about the Contest. Just copy your links into the form (Of course, you can pop back anytime and fill out this bonus form to add extra points for additional blogs/tweets etc. But only after you filled in the original form, just so our heads won’t ‘splode with all the extra maths ;) ).

'Cause you guys rock, there'll be an additional +10 entries for everyone who's a follower of all our blogs before January 11, so get in quick and follow along if you haven't already. And spread the word so your friends can have a chance as well.

Bet you thought we were finished. Well, we're not!!! We're throwing in a special bonus. For each of us that gets to 300 followers, we'll donate a $30 Amazon gift card to a random contest entrant who is also a follower of our blog.

Is that fantastic or what! You may have noticed a little Trilogy theme here, more on that later...

For now, let the fun begin...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, we'll pack, we'll clean, we'll go...

Well, this is it. I'm really moving!!!

I'll be leaving Sydney, largest city in Australia (population approx. 4.5 mill or so)

Source: Wikipedia
And heading to Canberra, capital of Australia (population approx. 350,000. Yep, thousand. Not million. Look at all those trees!)

Source: Wikipedia


Anywho, after a nightmare couple of weeks cleaning and throwing out STUFF, the removalists are finally coming. Tomorrow. Exciting and exhausting and a little scary, all rolled into one.

Let's talk about Stuff for a second shall we? I simply cannot believe how much stuff I've accumulated that:
  1. I didn't even realize I had until it waved at me from the dark corner of a cupboard I haven't even opened in a year
  2. I never use but still want to keep because someone special gave it to me, or I acquired it during a significant occasion/event (which may or may not have involved too much alcohol), or [insert completely made-up-on-the-spur-of-the-moment reason which my husband didn't believe anyway]
  3. I'm sure I'll fit into one day. Honest. So how can I throw it out knowing that???

Um, sensing a theme perhaps? Yep, I hate throwing stuff out. What about you, can you bear to part with all your knick-knacks and treasures during a move? Or do you fight tooth and nail for just one more teensy little box to put this or that or the other in???

I've managed to get Daughter No. 1 excited about the move (I can only imagine how scary it must be for a 3 year old to leave everything she knows behind). I've also reassured her numerous times that yes, we will be bringing her bed and dolly and her scooter and her books and our washing machine (it's funny what ranks on her list of most important items!).

So, after all that, the removalists are coming tomorrow. Boxes will be taken away tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. Then comes cleaning (is there anyone that enjoys that part of the move?). And then, on Thursday, we're driving the three and a half hours to our new city. After that, the fun of organizing the new house begins...

DISCLAIMER: I should add that I moved quite a bit growing up, so I'm rather used to moving. And my husband's work entitles us to packing as well as removal, so life is rather good there! And I grew up in the country and only moved to the larger cities later in life, so I'm rather looking forward to going to somewhere a bit (tee hee, a lot!) smaller for a change. It's all good really.

Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted on how things shape up in Canberra...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Interview with Marieke

Well, I'm back from my blogging hiatus, all rested and refreshed and the proud owner of a brand new spiffy laptop (woot!). Must say, I've missed you all, and I can't wait to catch up and find out how all your Christmas and New Year celebrations have been.

Today I'm interviewing Marieke, my legendary critique partner, fellow blogger and Crusader, and wonderful friend who I'm just dying to meet in person one day. Oh, and she's also the co-conspirator in the evil "Something is Coming" plot/plan/teasy-thingy (but more on that later).

To launch straight into the juicy stuff...

Question 1: What inspires you to write?

Life. Cheesy, huh? ;) It has always interested me how people perceive the world. For me the world consists of stories. When I'm at work, when I'm sitting in a coffee shop writing... I don't just see people around me, I see stories. Whether it's the two kids on the street attacking each other with imaginary swords, the lonely girl sitting at the table in the corner, or the elderly couple walking the same route every single day. I want to know what lies underneath the surface.

And apparently I've always been very good at 'What if'-ing too. I have a bit of an over-active imagination sometimes! ;)

Rach: Inteereesting!!!

Question 2: What's your all-time favourite book (and why)???

Ugh, I so hate this question. Please don't make me choose?!

I don't really have an all-time favorite, because it changes with the mood I'm in. I do love quirky books, stories that are different then normal. I recently reread Meg Rosoff's Justin Case: YA magical realism about a boy and Fate. I didn't 'get' it the first time around but I'm starting to appreciate it more and more. (And truth is, I love all her books!)

I also *adore* When you reach me. It's quite possibly one of the best books I've ever read. The voice is amazing, the story is wonderfully complex, and I love how it uses A Wrinkle In Time as inspiration.

Rach: Ooh, I've never read "When You Reach Me." But it's definitely on my TBR list!

Question 3: Do you listen to music while you write? Is there anything in particular that gets you in the writing mood?

It depends. Normally I love to listen to music, but I've learned that, now I'm getting deeper and deeper into Jaime's world in WICK, I prefer working in silence. She has a very typical world view and music isn't part of that. For me to listen to music is actually distracting.

It's a novelty for me, because normally I can block out any and all background noise! But it seems Jaime has a will of her own ;)

Rach: It's amazing how your characters can influence your own likes/dislikes while you're so deep in their world!

Bonus question: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Yep, I hear there's a massive contest and some awesomely amazing giveaways coming soon. If you want a head start check back on Tuesday, January 4 to find out how you can collect your first points.

Rach: (*Rubs hands together*)

Related Posts with Thumbnails