Dragon Sketching

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I took some time out today to start sketching some dragons. It was a lot of fun to get back into my art and enjoy the process of creating on the page.

Below are some photos of my first dragon portrait. It’s an idea that I’m developing and hope to create a far more intricate image in the coming months. But for now, this drawing is about exploring possibilities.

Exploring possibilities is part of the fun of developing my artistic/creative expression. It also gives my left brain a break and allows my right brain the opportunity to take the driver’s seat.

I’m pretty happy with my dragon line drawing and I am looking forward to developing her further.

The second dragon I sketched today took about an hour and a half to create. I’m also rather happy with how the image turned out.

Dragon_2_04082018I think that this sketch can be developed further and more depth given to it, but for now, I am happy with the results of my time playing on water paper.

I chose not add water or colour to the sketch. I wanted to spend my time developing a dragon from my imagination and seeing how it came out on the page.

Today, it’s Saturday in Australia and I’m now two weeks away from my trip to the UK. I finally gave in and got myself a ‘selfie stick’ so maybe when I get back home at the end of September, I’ll have some other photos to share. I also hope this trip fills up my creative bucket with new ideas for creative writing.

15 days and counting down.

Have a great creative day (or night)!

Writing – Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction

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soul seeker 1A couple of weeks ago a new character came into my imagination. I knew what she looked like and I had a good sense of who she was. It was like being visited by a the soul of a real person.

I grabbed my iPad, opened a new Scrivener project and jotted down everything I’d seen, heard, smelled and tasted in that first meeting. It got me excited because I loved this character immediately and I wanted to know more, to learn more and experience more of her paranormal/normal life. I wanted to learn more about the conflicts she has over her abilities and how her paranormal abilities complicate her career, her love life, her sense of self.

On and off since the first time she showed up, I’ve had visits from her and each time I learn a little more about who she is as a ‘real person’ in my imagination.

Then last night an antagonist walked out of the mist of my imagination and I saw exactly what he was wearing, the gate of his stride, the tilt of his fine boned face.

So once again, I opened my scrivener file and jotted what I’d experienced down. I don’t have his name yet but I’ve got the essence of who he is and the darkness that emanates from him in a seductive manner. And I know he is the opposing force to my female protagonist.

I love it when this type of thing happens. For me this is part of magic of writing fiction. I’m always learning and growing as a writer and story teller, and when a character comes forward and wants to be put down on the page, I get excited. It’s almost as if the character is whispering in my inner ear and I am writing their story from their perspective.

So, now I am a bit over three weeks away from my trip to the UK and I now have two stories growing inside my mind. After a period of feeling creatively fallow, these ideas are a delight.

One of my stories is a paranormal romance, which is probably my absolute favourite genre to write, and if this story goes the way I am plotting it, then it will be my third paranormal story with romance beats. I’m excited to write this story.

The second story is my fantasy novel which features dragons and a few humans that can use magic. I’m enjoying learning how to put an epic fantasy story together. I’m not yet sure how this story will go. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces and other times I feel inspired by the ideas I have. Most of the time I am considering: How can I take this idea beyond cliche?

So far I have discovered writing a fantasy world is an in-depth adventure in itself. There is so much for me to think about, to brainstorm and to create. My thinking includes:

  • Characters – who is my protagonist, my antagonist and other roles
  • Conflicts – the major conflict and smaller conflicts for all characters and how they will play out
  • World building – there is so much involved in this part, sometimes I feel overwhelmed
  • Plotting how it will all pan out
  • Themes I want to touch on
  • Treatment – do I want to write this story from first person point of view or third person point of view?

So I am going to really enjoy my Fantasy Fiction writing course with David Farland in Oxford, and I am very much looking forward to learning about all the layers and nuances I need to consider to bring my ideas to life and create a believable fantasy fiction world that readers will want to experience via my characters.

When I return from the UK, I hope to finish writing these stories and to work on editing Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James so that I can move them toward publication. It would be good move my writing to the next level, even if being published is a scary step.

 

29 Days and Counting Down

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Stonehenge by Kit-Ko from Unsplash.com

Stonehenge by Kit-Ko from Unsplash.com

I’m 29 days away from flying from Australia to England to attend David Farland‘s Fantasy Fiction Writing Course.

I am excited and still catching up on all the work I need to do to be fully prepped for the course.

I have been creating characters, working on my settings and figuring out the main conflicts for the characters I have so far. At this point, I haven’t started to explore the themes I want to bring out in the story as it is very early days.

In my story, I have dragons and people. That’s what I can tell you. The rest I’m keeping close to my heart because my story is like a newly conceived baby and I want to protect it while it grows into a being in its own right.

I’m very much looking forward to the course and the three week holiday I am going to have after the course is finished. I’ve never been to the UK, unless I count going through London Heathrow Airport on my way to Barcelona when I was fortunate enough to go for work reasons in the early 2000’s.

It’s going to be excellent for me to immerse myself into a different culture and to see the history of the United Kingdom. I’ll be going to Oxford, London, a number of stops throughout England, then through Scotland, down to Wales and to a number of stops in Ireland.

It feels so surreal at the moment but before I know it, I will be on the plane and in new countries.

During my holiday, my partner, David, will be flying over (for our three week holiday) and we’ll be taking a day trip over to Paris too. I’m very excited to see all these places. And I hope each new experience inspires my imagination to new heights and helps me to become a more entertaining and interesting genre fiction writer, as well as adding to my personal experience as a human being.

I’m certainly stepping out of my comfort zone on this trip. And I am staying positive about it.

29 days and counting down until a brand new life experience comes my way!

Learning Photography

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Last weekend I started learning the basics of my Canon DSLR which resulted in some photos that I loved. This week, I finished going through the Skillshare.com online course and put some of my new knowledge to use.

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Here is Miss Poppy suffering a long photo shoot session. I used the Av mode on my DSLR to get a cropped image and to capture the sweetness of Miss Poppy’s face.

Here are some of the various photos I took this morning. Miss Poppy has to put up with a lot.

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I managed to catch a photo of Rocket playing with his rope toy. I don’t think I had the camera on the right mode to really catch the moment, but I am learning. And I do love this photo of my poodle.

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Next, I tried to capture Rocket in an interesting composition by getting down on the floor and photograph him from his level. He wasn’t too keen on giving me much face time for the portraits I was trying to take. The look on his face in the second photo says it all.

Jack (above) is a gorgeous boy but he doesn’t believe in sitting still for photos. It took me ages to catch these images and they are a little blurry. I’ll just have to keep trying.

Then I went out to Mapleton which is in the Hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, and took some photos. The images above were attempting to capture the water fall movement using the Tv mode of the camera.

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This is the view from the Mapleton lookout – or at least, a portion of the view.

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I was striving to capture the expansive nature of the vista and to make an interesting photographic composition in the above image.

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Here’s an image of David, my partner. I used the Av mode to get this portrait.

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Above is an image of my best friend in the world, Edward. He’s also putting up with me snapping photos of him using the Av mode of the camera.

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And, lastly, I had to get in front of the camera. I set up the manual settings and gave the camera to David. He did a great job of these photos, I reckon.

Taking a moment out of the busy-ness of life has allowed me the space to capture images that mean a great deal to me. I’m a total beginner at photography, but I am thoroughly enjoying the process of learning. And learning is what inspires my continued growth and I’m grateful for that.

Learning a new creative skill

Last weekend, after doing some minimising of ‘stuff’ in my house, I wanted to do something creative and different. I wanted to learn a new skill.

So, I decided it was time to take the DSLR Camera (my friend owns it and I borrow it from time to time – he’s good to me like that) and start learning how to use it.

I went to my go-to creative learning site, Skillshare.com, where I created and published my own online class to teach people how to draw using negative space, and looked for classes on photography.

I found a class that focused on teaching beginners how to use their DSLRs. I watched the start and learned how to use some of the manual features of the camera. Buttons, and dials and widgets that had intrigued me for some time but I’d never got around to working out what they were for.

So far I have watched just over half of the course. As I learned about shutter priority, aperture and ISO, I fiddled with the manual settings and had a go at taking a photo or two.

Here’s a couple of photos of Rocket. I know these photos are not professional in any sense of the word and I’m not even sure what settings I used but I love them!

I think I love these photos so much because they really capture the cute attentiveness of Rocket. These are the first photos I’ve taken of Rocket in a very long time where I have been able to capture what his face looks like.

Having a black poodle is one of the greatest things in my life – I treasure him. He is my loving and ever present companion and I want to take images of him as he is, showing his sweet face to the world.

This tiny creative success has inspired me to keep watching the course on Skillshare.com and learning how to use the camera to take photos that I want in my life.

Also, learning a little bit of photography is a great way for my brain to rest after such an intense time of creative writing. I’ve found lately that my creative writing has slowed down and that I need to take a pause. To allow my creative writing bucket an opportunity to fill up again.

Learning a new creative skill helps to enhance all of my creative skills. And I get to share this with you too!

I’ve been cutting out the things in my life that no longer bring me joy or add value to my life. And I’ve been focusing on uncovering my highest values so I can live in accordance with them.

Creative expression is one of my highest values. I love being creative. Drawing. Writing. Painting. Mixed Media. Photography.

Each one of these creative activities helps me to take a breather from a fast paced world and allows me to see what is truly before me. Creative writing helps me to understand the human condition, as does reflective writing and journaling.

I am so grateful for creativity and the journey of continued self-expression.

If you haven’t tried something creative for a while, maybe it’s time to slow down the pace in your life and take a moment to put a creative desire into action.

In The Moment With Life

When life is busy and I have so much travel to do to get to and from work each day, it can feel utterly overwhelming. My job is busy and I also write and read and my mind swirls with anxiety too. I want to do so much and achieve what is important to me, but sometimes … it is all too much.

That’s when change needs to take place. That overwhelm is a signpost on the path of my life and I am stopping long enough to heed it.

I took action as soon as I realised I was beginning to burn out.

I changed the route I take as I walk across Brisbane City to get to my place of employment. Instead of weaving in and out of a river of people on George Street and feeling stressed, hurried and overwhelmed, I now walk straight down another, quieter street to the Botanic Gardens and take a few moments with nature.

Nature has a way of bringing me peace, healing and wisdom.

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As I have walked along the path with lush overhanging trees, I realised just how important it is to give myself the mental, emotional and physical space to be in the moment. The simple act of walking and placing one foot down in front of the other on the pavement allows me to ground and to take stock of what is truly important in my life.

I’m thinking things through. I’m changing. I’m course correcting in my life and considering the consequences of actions and outcomes.

Who do I want to be?

What do I want to do?

How do I want to bring value into the world?

How do I live my life in accordance with my highest values?

These questions have deep answers and I know I need to keep asking them. Even with my creative writing and my artwork, I know I want to go deeper and give more and create in a way that is fulfilling to me and to anyone who receives what I have to offer.

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Each morning that I walk through the Botanic Gardens, I take a moment to look at the Brisbane River and appreciate the flow of the water. I contemplate it. The flow, the speed, the tranquility.

No matter what obstructions are in the path of the river, it flows with ease, even in choppy times. This seemed like an appropriate metaphor for me to contemplate. Maybe the message of the river to me is that no matter what may be happening around me, no matter what obstacles are in my way, I can be like the water and surrender to the flow.

I’ve noticed that nature has a way of being, of quietly doing, of growing and of changing and flowing with the elements. The river flows, trees are flexible and give when the storms batter them. The earth stays steady (most of the time) under my feet and sometimes the earth shudders to wake us all up to our place in this world.

Nature teaches me that my need to grasp, control and bend life to my will doesn’t work.

On my reflections about life and nature, as I place one foot on the ground and then take another, I begin the process of surrendering to the moment which is where peace sits.

It is in those in-between spaces of noise and hurry and want and grasping that peace sits patiently waiting. Peace calls lightly on the breeze. In those moments, the in-between spaces, where life truly comes into its own, that is where peace is found.

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I am not sure if my musings make sense to anyone else. But I do know that as I walk and contemplate and breathe, I give my brain and my nervous system time to unwind. I also allow myself the space to consider what is truly important to me.

In the last couple of weeks I have given myself the gift of a moment in time. I have taken deep breaths, released stress and I have looked up and I have appreciated the blue sky, the cool air as it rushes against my cheeks and the lush green leaves that sway and wave in the invisible wind.

I have taken time to consider all the stuff in my life and especially the stuff in my mind. This simple action has made me more mindful of the moment and the precious moments of life that I have. I am suddenly grateful for all that I have and all that I experience. And I take the mental action I need to take to de-clutter.

When I say, de-clutter, I don’t just mean getting rid of things. De-cluttering applies to letting go of outdated mindsets, thought forms, ways of approaching the world. I’m going through a re-orientation in my life and it’s very interesting to experience.

It is also scary.

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Love to my mum on Mother’s Day

Love is important.

I love you, mum.

Today, I may not be there in person, but in my heart, you and I are always together.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mum. You are always in my heart.

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My mum has Alzheimer’s. It’s heartbreaking but these moments are precious. Here’s a photo of the love we share.

Rodger and I love you more than words will ever convey. We want you to know that you mean the world to both of us.

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My brother, Rodger and I, taking a selfie on Mount Ainslie overlooking Canberra. It was a beautiful evening and mum was wandering around having a good time too. 

Mum, you are so precious to Rodger and I.

You may not remember certain things now that Alzheimer’s has touched your life, but we will remember things for you. And we want you to know how amazing we think you are.

You’ve been a light in my life and you still are. I cherish every moment we have together, and I’m so very grateful that I got to have such a fantastic mum as you!

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Mum and I having a special moment. Mum was telling me, “I love you, darling.” And I was telling her, “I love you too.”

Neither time nor distance will ever stop us from loving each other. Now and always, Happy Mother’s Day.

Seeking a simple life – Minimalism

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manuel-meurisse-464510-unsplashOn my way to work this week, I hit the highway at 5.30am. The world around me was ink-black and cars on the highway flashed bright lights like stars in my side mirrors. I was merging into the traffic and it was hard to tell how far away the cars and trucks zooming down the road were from me.

I’m cautious, but I have to get to 80km/hr to merge effectively. So that’s what I did and that’s when this semi-trailer suddenly appeared next to me and it was so close and I was running out of merging lane.

It scared me.

I realised I wasn’t going to be able out sprint this big semi-trailer in my little four cylinder Barina. I slammed on the breaks, ‘hitting the skids’ as the cliche goes and narrowly avoided flying off the side of the road and into a ditch.

I don’t blame the driver of the semi-trailer in any way for the scare I had. I just realised how dangerous it is (at times) for me to be merging into fast moving traffic when it’s ink-black and the car lights are an unknown distance away.

Anyway, the reason I tell you this little story is that it gave me pause.

A pause.

A moment to reflect.

A moment to think about what if this, that or the other happened to me as a result of this encounter.

Am I fulfilled in life?

Am I happy?

Am I contributing enough?

This event was a catalyst, and I realised I want more in my life.

My thinking on this encounter lead me further contemplating, which lead to action which lead to YouTube where I came across minimalism. I watched a few videos and felt something deep inside shift. A door opened a crack and I peeked through and caught a glimpse of what my life could be like if I were to let go of things that were holding me tethered.

What if I let go of my out-dated beliefs? Who would I be then?

What if I paid off my debt and truly embraced financial freedom? How good would I feel about my day and what other choices would I have to follow my dreams to fruition?

What if I finally released my attachment to poverty thinking? How much more abundance would I notice on a daily basis?

What if I stopped filling all of my emotional voids with stuff and started to consume consciously? What would happen to my life when I did these things?

This contemplation lead me to realise that I am seeking a simple lifestyle. I want less busy-ness of my mind, less anxiety, less stress.

I realised I want a life where I have room for my values. I want to live in accordance with what my values are and be guided by them to make wise choices in my daily actions.

I realised I wanted to pull over on the super highway of Selina’s life and take stock of where my life was really at.

So I stopped.

I started looking around.

I started a re-set.

I started digging for my values and searching for what I think is meaningful.

So here I am, metaphorically sitting on the side of the Selina Super Highway, taking a breather and contemplating.

It’s wonderful and terribly uncomfortable at the same time. I say this because from the moment I felt the shift toward simplifying my life and lifestyle, I have had to ask deeper questions of myself. Questions that do not necessarily have easy or quick answers.

The truth is I have no answers. But I do have actions.

My first action and outward manifestation of the internal shift toward creating a simpler lifestyle for myself as been to take on a minimalism challenge for the month of May.

From the 1st to 31st May, I have committed to letting go of one thing from my life every single day. I’m on day 6 and I have let go of much more than one thing per day. I have culled stuff from any number of rooms in my house and from my desk at work and from my emails.

I have culled old emails that dated back to 2010, right up to 2016. A palpable weight lifted from my neck and shoulders on the day I hit delete on all those ‘just in case’ emails. I let go of something I didn’t even know was stressing me out.

I have also thrown out and donated things that no longer give me joy, are no longer purposeful in my life or do not add value to my life. Things like the clothes I’ve been hanging on to ‘just in case’ I lose enough weight to fit back into them.

What was I hanging on to these old clothes for?

Well, I’ve put on weight – one of the side effects of sitting down and writing more often (for me) has meant weight gain. Not a huge amount but enough that I expanded out of my clothes and felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

This lead to drawing a line in my life and treading a healthier lifestyle as I have made healthier daily choices and incorporated more exercise. But, I’m going to be honest here ( that’s a value for me – I like being honest) I don’t love being a slave to the gym any more. For years, I was a slave to the voice inside my head that flogged me to go to the gym and exercise until my head was ringing. It told me that if I didn’t go to the gym and exercise, I’d get fatter and be ugly.

Yes, I’m vain. I didn’t want to be over weight or ugly as my inner voice told me. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see all the cellulite on my legs and back side. I didn’t care what the experts said about it being normal. I was chasing a dream of extreme fitness and I hated myself for the way I approached it.

I like exercise but I hate being a slave to it, and that’s the honest truth right there.

Despite putting on weight, I have hung on to clothes that I loved to wear when I was two sizes smaller than I currently am. And since the day I woke up and realised I’d gained wider hips and a fat roll around my middle that made it harder for me to breathe, I have dreamed about getting back into those smaller clothes.

Please don’t judge me harshly for my honesty here. I would never judge another person for their body shape but inside my mind, I had a cruel mistress who was never ever satisfied with how lean or fit I got.

Anyway, back then I went through a cycle of self-hatred, flog myself at the gym, eat lean, then binge, then get angry with myself, fall into depression, then whip shite out of myself for failing once again.

That cycle of self-loathing is a cost that I no longer want to pay. And keeping old clothes that I no longer fit into has been torturous.

It’s time to assess the true cost of the stuff in my life and I have started donating all the clothes I’d been berating myself over no longer fitting into. Letting them go has felt so freeing.

And I’m excited by the new, simpler lifestyle and style I am embracing.

I’ll let you know how this whole process of simplifying my life goes.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist but I do enjoy applying the principles of minimalism to my stuff and to what I choose to consume in my life.

It’s nice to value people, relationships, my animal companions and all the things that bring me joy.

I’m finding joy in this phase of evaluating my life.

Brainstorming – Fantasy Novel Setting

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As I’m going to the UK for a holiday in August and I’ll also be doing a writing course with David Farland, I’m preparing my story and brainstorming in advance.

One of the things I’ve had to work out is the setting.

This is the first time I’ve ever tried to create a complete fantasy world and I want dragons to be a big part of the story so the setting has to have dragon territory in it.

Without giving away too much of my thinking on who my characters are and the conflicts that I am considering, I thought I’d show you my first attempt at a world building / setting map.

It has several dragon territories and a couple of human settlements. It also has wolf territory. That appeals to my imagination big time. I’m quite excited about where my wolf idea might go.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop. It’s been a day of figuring out mega and some minor setting options and filling in ideas for potential characters that could grow out of the setting and their conflicts.

Happy creating – whatever you do!

How to See & Draw using Negative Space

Well … I said I’d do it and I’ve done it.

How to See and Draw using Negative Space on Skillshare

How to See and Draw using Negative Space on Skillshare

After a month of learning and multiple attempts at shooting video, I have finally created a short Skillshare art class called, How to See & Draw using Negative Space.

It was quite a challenge to work out how to break down the steps of how I see and draw negative space around an object, but I did it in the end and I wanted to share this with you.

If you’re interested in checking it out, please click this link.

Thanks for stopping by!

S