Thursday, 29 November 2012

B is for Butterfly

This is week two of Alphabe-Thursday, so we're on the letter B.

B is for Butterfly...

I like to be amazed. I like to be reminded just how miraculous life is. Take the butterfly for instance. When you think about it long enough it really does start to blow the mind. How does a caterpillar change into a butterfly?! It's the ultimate transformation, going from one living thing and metamorphosing into a completely different living thing. That's one helluva party trick! ;-)

The caterpillar comes into being knowing that one day it will change. There is no chance for it to say 'no thanks, not today.' The caterpillar is born to transform. Whenever I'm faced with change and I start to let the fear take over, I like to remind myself of the butterfly. These beautiful creatures wouldn't exist if it weren't for change.

Allowing transformation is one of the most miraculous gifts we can give ourselves. Letting go of those things that hold us back and giving in to necessary change can be enlightening. It can be scary, sure, but for every skin we shed, every negative pattern we let go of, every opportunity we seize, we are able to grow as human beings. By overcoming the fear and trusting in life's plan for us, we move closer to who we really are - a beautiful, loving, joyful being who is just as miraculous as the butterfly.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Book Review: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

 'A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . . .

Charlie Duskin loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

Rose Butler lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.'

I read A Little Wanting Song as part of the AWW2012 Challenge. I was drawn to Cath Crowley's writing in her book Graffiti Moon, which I reviewed back in August, and I wanted to read more of her work. 

A Little Wanting Song was actually written prior to Graffiti Moon and first released as Chasing Charlie Duskin. Having already read Graffiti Moon, it was obvious to me that this novel came before because it seems as though Cath is stretching her legs and her writing fingers. She has the idea to write from an artist's perspective (Charlie is an accomplished musician, songwriter and singer) but I don't feel Cath does it as well, or as powerfully poignant, in this novel as she did in Graffiti.

What's so prevalent in this book is a sense of longing. Everyone is longing for something, which is a great insight into teenage-hood! That's why Cath Crowley is such a wonderful YA writer - she is brilliant at showing life through a teen's eyes. The characters in this novel deal with a typical teen anxiety - they're desperate to be something they're not, but they are slowly realising that they need to just be themselves. Charlie and Rose both long for their own version of freedom, but seem unable to make it a reality.

This intense idea of longing also incorporates the characters' inability to let go - that's why there is the element of ghosts in the story because Charlie, her dad and her grandpa are each unable to let go of the dead. I see the evolution of their grief in the story - Charlie learns that she's been holding back just like her father has been. It is the sorrow that keeps her from loosening up and letting go in more ways than one. She needs to let go of her mum and gran, but also let go of her fear and allow herself to realise her potential.

A Little Wanting Song is a touching teen story and well worth a read. I liked this novel. It was very well-written and I could empathise with all of the characters, but the language wasn't as poetic as I was expecting after reading the beautifully lyrical Graffiti Moon.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A is for Appreciation

Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday is a weekly writing meme based on, you guessed it, the letters of the alphabet. This week starts a new round with the letter 'A'. I decided to join in!

So... A is for Appreciation.

Being Australian I never focussed much on Thanksgiving, even though I've always appreciated the sentiment. Gathering loved ones together to celebrate and give thanks is a wonderful tradition. And now that I'm married to an American I figure hey I can get in on this thanksgiving action! :-)

Appreciation is the 'expression of gratitude' and I've found that being grateful can have a really powerful affect on us. Writing my list of 100 Gratitudes was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It really helped me focus my attention on all the positives life has to offer, and I found myself viewing the world in a new, exciting way.  

Letting gratitude flow into your every day can help you tap into love and joy and beauty and inspiration. At Thanksgiving we share all this magnificence with others - what a great day it is!

I appreciate so many things in my life that it would take too long to list them all. But special mention must go to my family and friends, who are always there for me and who make my life truly blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Guest Post, Giveaway and Review on Book'd Out

I'm honoured to be featured today on Shelleyrae's book review site Book'd Out. I have written a guest post entitled 'Exploring Love'. 

Book'd Out is also hosting a giveaway! I am offering two signed print editions of Run to Me. This giveaway is available worldwide and closes 18th November 2012. To enter head on over to Book'd Out.

And to top it off - Shelleyrae has also reviewed Run to Me as part of the Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge. Check out her review here.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Writer in Me

I decided I wanted to be a writer while sitting on a boat circling Manhattan. I was on holiday in the US en route to a new life in London. I was twenty-one years old. I’d just finished university in Sydney. I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do with my life.

New York City had always been a place I dreamt about. My greatest passion is movies and I’d seen NYC many, many times onscreen. I longed to be amongst the bright lights and see the beautiful city with my very own eyes. I was desperate to walk those streets and stand at the top of The Empire State Building, just like Meg and Tom in Sleepless in Seattle. ;-) So being in NYC was a real-life dream come true for this small town girl.

My world was opening. I was na├»ve and idealistic, and I could see my life spread out before me with unlimited possibilities waiting for me to grab them. It was a gloriously sunny day and I was gliding along the Hudson River with the ‘city of dreams’ beside me, and that’s when it happened. It just popped into my head.        I could be a writer.   

It wasn’t such a crazy idea. I’d always been a bookworm, and I studied English literature at university. Sure I could be a writer, I thought. How hard could it be?

Of course writing is not easy. Had that twenty-one year old known what she was letting herself in for she probably would have run in the opposite direction! Sure there are days when I sit at my desk ala Carrie Bradshaw and the ideas flow ever so sweetly from my mind to my fingers and onto the page. But there are also days where I’d rather do anything else, and actually getting the words out is pure torture.

And yet, writing remains. Ever since that moment on the boat in NYC, I’ve been a writer. It took a while for me to call myself one, and years for me to grow the confidence to put my work out into the world. But I did it. And I continue to do it.    I am a writer.

Looking back I realise the creative urge had always been there. Writing had been a source of support for me during many a teenage drama. I’d kept journals throughout my teens and my first broken heart had inspired me to write poetry and short stories (I filled notebooks with stories about him changing his mind and declaring his undying love!) Writing was therapeutic for me. It was where I made sense of what was happening in my life. And as the years have passed from that initial spark of ‘I could be a writer’, writing has allowed me to work out who I am and what I want from life.

Writing fiction in particular is a fascination because I like creating characters and then watching as their behaviour unfolds. Fiction allows me to take those real-life moments I may have witnessed or experienced and turn them into something different. Something straight out of my imagination! :-)

Seeing my novel Run to Me being read by others reminds me just how far I’ve come from that initial spark of an idea. No matter where my future writing life might take me, every time I think back on that moment in New York City I will be grateful for that twenty-one year old me who decided to be a writer and who threw herself so fearlessly into being one. Without her bravery I may never have discovered the joy a creative life can bring. And I wouldn’t be sitting here writing these very words.

** I was just in NYC again a month ago – I was lucky to miss Superstorm Sandy. My heart goes out to those New Yorkers who lost loved ones during the storm, and my thoughts are with the city as it recovers. **

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Author Interview with Chompasaurus Reviews

Today I'm honoured to be interviewed by the wonderful Annie Johnson over on Chompasaurus Reviews! Annie's site offers book reviews, interviews and helpful advice for authors.

Check out Chompasaurus Reviews and my interview.