Art, Writing and Scotland

I’m circling back around to my arty side this year.

In recent years, I have taken a big break from painting and drawing. I needed a breather but now I have realised just how much I have missed my art practice.

So, I got myself a moleskine art journal (my first one) and have started sketching and water colour painting in it. I am totally inspired by author and illustrator Kate Knappe with her cute little birds, so you will see an image that I drew to honour her artistic expression in the photos below. If you see her work around – there are a lot of greeting cards with her artwork in Australia – do support her if you can and if you like the art of course.

I’m all for supporting living artists who can do with the dollars in their bank account so they can live life and continue to do what they love.

img_0097 2

This is a page from my new moleskin art journal with another little bird inspired by Kate Knappe. It also has an orb, inspired by a walk along the beach today.

Here is one of the pages out of my moleskine art journal.

I’m going through a reflective stage and wondering what I should do next?

Do I keep focusing on writing my novel and slogging away attempting to get it published?

Or do I study something? Something else? Should I study art? Should I study something that will help me in my day-job?

So many questions.

So much inner confusion.

I love art.

I love writing.

I love coaching.

I do enjoy learning but I am not sure what to do. What is next for me?

So this piece of artwork is a true reflection of the questions and confusion whirling around inside of me.

img_0094 2

This page of my art journal is a reflection of how intricately interconnected we all are.

At least, that’s how I see the world.

I have recently decided to sponsor two young girls through World Vision and, hopefully, make a difference for them and their community. I didn’t do this lightly. I feel very strong about young girls having the opportunity for a good education and waiting until a decent age to be married. It is my hope that my sponsor children and their community will embrace this opportunity to have more choices and be lifted up and out of poverty.

As I was drawing this image, I was thinking about my sponsor children and how we are worlds apart, both geographically and with regard to quality of life style and education and choices. But I believe that all beings are interconnected and there are threads that connect us. I believe that one act can have a multitude of effects. A lot of the time, I do not know the effect I have on people, but it is my hope that my effect is a positive one for all concerned.

So, I’m getting back into my art. I’m thinking about things outside of my fiction stories but I am still drawn to my writing. I love it.

I’m just not keen on editing.

Editing is hard work.

I’m not averse to hard work.

I just think I’m a bit creatively burned out at the moment.

But despite my burn out, I am still returning to The Living Death of Toddy James and day by day I am making editing progress. I’m up to chapter six so far. It’s a matter of small daily habits that add up to big changes.

I won’t give up. I’ll rest and I’ll refocus, and I will edit my novel. It takes grit and determination to get these things done.

Now, as promised, here are some more photos of my awesome UK holiday from last year.

scotland1

In the above collage, Dave and I went to Edinburgh and saw the city, Edinburgh Castle. We also visited a fabulous historic place called Torphichen Inn for dinner and a show.

Wow, what an amazing place. I was in love with the atmosphere, the friendly welcome and the life size cardboard cut out of Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon. The ladies at our table were a little shocked at how excited I was to see the cardboard cut out, but I had only just finished listening to the audio book and watching the series, so in my mind, Jamie Fraser had come to life!

I still love David, but it was Jamie Fraser!

I think David was in love with Torphichen. I think he wanted to immigrate and live there for the rest of his life. It was green and homey. The Torphichen Inn was filled with friendly people and the services was excellent. We had haggis. I actually ate some and David had a bowl-full.

img_0100

The photo above is the Torphichen Inn.

The show had bag pipes, singing and excellent hospitality. I truly loved Torphichen and felt very warmly welcomed.

scotland2

We saw the Kelpies sculptures several times as the bus took us from the hotel to Edinburgh and back on our visit. They were spectacular and it was the first time I’d heard that Kelpies were shape-shifting water spirits that take people and drown them. As an Australian, when I hear the word ‘kelpie’ I think of a type of dog, so this revelation was endlessly entertaining to all of the Aussies on the bus.

Dave and I also visited the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book – OMG, I almost wet myself with excitement. It’s called The Elephant House. We had coffee and cake and then we entered the toilets which were completely covered in Harry Potter fan scribblings. It was surreal. I didn’t like the way people wrote all over the toilets. It was oppressive. I think being a fan is great, but defacing property falls outside of my boundaries for appropriate ways to show adoration.

Anyway, of course, I had to buy a mug to remind me of this special opportunity to dine in cafe where one of the most famous writers of today did her plotting, characterisation and writing. I was hoping some of her inspiration and determination to finish writing would rub off on me. I’m still hopeful.

In the photos above, you can see us at The Elephant House.

We also visited Greyfriars Bobby where this little loyal dog is honoured and remembered. This church was fabulous, but for those who enjoy a bit of ghost hunting and paranormal thrills, I have to say there was a crypt there that gave me the shivers.

It’s the circular one with the dome roof. It had two doors with square windows made of wrought iron. I was too scared to get too close to this one. I kept getting the shivery sense that something was inside watching me. My writer’s imagination went wild, wild, wild with exciting ideas for creating paranormal wonder in my stories from this experience!

Okay, for my last Scottish highlight, here’s a super short video where Dave and I went hunting for the Loch Ness Monster and caught a glimpse!

Happy creativity whether you write, dance, make art or create music. Whatever you do, I hope it brings you joy and happiness.

Welcome to 2019

Happy New Year and all that good stuff to you and your loved ones. And a big thank you for supporting my blog over the time you have been with me. It means a lot to me to know that people are visiting and reading my words. I hope that what I share here inspires your heart and your creative expression in life too. I thought I’d write a little about one of the pivotal adventures I had in 2018 and share some highlights.

Last year was a big year for me with my first trip to the UK. I went alone for the first eight days and attended the Fantasy Fiction Writing Course, run by David Farland, in Oxford. Then my partner, David, flew over and we met up in London for a much needed holiday.

Leicester Square and Kensington

Dave and I went to Leicester Square and had high tea. We also stayed in Kensington and saw a Dr Who tardis – that’s what I reckon it was and I’m sticking to my story.

The writing course was intense but I was with a room full of amazing fantasy fiction authors and it was a privilege to listen to them read their current work in progress, and then to provide feedback too. I made some wonderful friends in this course which I am very grateful. They were all incredibly dedicated to the art and craft of writing a fantasy stories that lives on inside the reader long after the last page is read.

Once I’d met up with Dave in London, we had four nights before getting on a Cost Saver Trafalgar bus trip for 16 days where we visited the tourist highlights of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Dave and I did a couple of walking tours of London, saw Leicester Square, the Royal Palace, did the hop-on hop-off bus.

Here are some of the photos I took on my holiday. They include images from my time in Oxford as well as on the trip. Below you can see photos of my visits to Platform 9 & 3/4s in London, Stratford-Upon-Avon, the City of York, Warwick Castle and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

UK 1 - Collage

Then Dave and I took the Eurostar over to Paris.

First we got lost in the underground for over an hour and when we finally got to the surface, it took quite a bit to orient ourselves. We saw the Notre-Dame Cathedral and then we were on the hop-on hop-off bus to get our bearings. Below you can see a photo of the Arc de Triomphe and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Paris 1

Then we went to Le Lourve and found the Mona Lisa and many other beautiful pieces of art that were worthy of just as much attention as the Mona Lisa. The Lourve was huge and magnificent. It was a true highlight for me. So was seeing the Eiffle Tower.

Le Lourve

Below are some photos from York and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

When we visited the home of Shakespeare there was a small market on by the river and these gorgeous owls were there hanging out. Of course, being a huge animal lover, I had to snap up some photos.

York and SUA

 

On our first night in Edinburgh we went to see a Scottish Show with dinner. Here are a few photos of the dancers. We weren’t allowed to take videos, so I snapped up some photos and danced along in my seat.

Scottish Show Edinburgh

Really, there are so many photos and memories, it’s taking me quite a while to go through them and process all the experiences I had while overseas. I think I’ll leave my first blog post for 2019 there because I don’t want to bombard you.

I will do a blog with photos of each section and share the journey with you as I transfer the images across from my phone to the cloud.

Anyway, whatever 2019 brings, I hope it is good for you and that you and your creativity grow and develop in positive ways.

Until next time, happy creativity.

Resilience

Tags

, , ,

When I logged on to write this post on Resilience and share a video that touched me, I saw a notification from wordpress. It congratulated me because I  have been writing here for six years. I hadn’t thought about the age of my blog at all. It was a pleasant surprise.

One of the things I like most about my blog is that it changes as I change. I like that it allows me to connect with you on a personal level even though we may not have met in person.

That’s pretty cool.

Connection and expressing an idea that resonates with another person is something I love. I particularly like that about writing, making videos and writing fiction too.

So, today I wanted to share this YouTube video of Marian Keyes (one of my favourite authors) where she talks about resilience. It’s an important topic to me as I I have anxiety and suffer with worry, numbness and disassociation at times too. Sometimes I am lost in a darkness that spirals around so fast I can’t grasp the edge to slow myself down.

I wanted to share this video because when Marian Keyes talks about worrying when she was a child, it resonated so strongly with me. I worried too. A futile practice but I still did it and I still do par-take in the act of worrying without being able to control the outcome.

Worry gnaws at my nerves until they are red-raw. I have to write those worries down and shred them or burn them (in a controlled and safe manner) so I can be mentally free of them.

So, the ability to be resilient in the face of anxiety and depression isn’t easy for me all the time but, I know (from my own experience) it can be done.

Lately, I have been on the roller-coaster ride of anxiety. There are days when I am 100% okay and sailing through things. Life’s good.

Then there are other times when I wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach curling in on itself, tightening into a clenched knot of overwhelming dread and I don’t even know exactly what is triggering it.

I’ve learned to allow these experiences to be a part of the tapestry of my life. I’m not always keen on leaning into my uncomfortable feelings but I am doing it.

Sometimes I get swept away with what the inner voice is saying.

Other times I am able to discern what the worries are and see them for the shifting sands of anxious thought that they are. That’s when I am able to step back and see the pattern playing out.

Anyway, I hope the video with Marian Keyes helps you as much as it helps me.

I’m so grateful for Marian Keyes. She’s a great person and an excellent story teller. I especially love her honesty and raw grit as she shares her own experience with depression and anxious thoughts.

Through Fear and into Creativity

Since returning from the UK, I have been taking a little break from writing new stories and have been working on polishing up my manuscript, The Living Death of Toddy James.

I received some good feedback from the Ink & Insights 2018 Critique my Novel contest and decided it was time to submit my manuscript to an editor who can help me take it from the rough and step it closer to publication standard.

But as I have taken this step forward in my creative life, I have also had to battle internal fears. Fears that I am still not good enough to publish. It sounds silly given the spectrum of published works in the world since self-publishing became so accessible, but I still have an inner voice that speaks volumes about where it thinks I am at.

This inner voice drove me to pick up the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I listened to it on audio first, then went out a got myself a paperback copy so that I could refer to things that inspired me and provided me with ‘a-ha’ moments. big-magic-elizabeth-gilbert-book-review

This lead to me creating a skillshare course called: Through Fear to Creativity, where I explore some of the methods I have used get past the fears that have blocked me when it comes to creative writing and, at times, my artwork.

Fear to Creativity

I then made a short YouTube video where I speak directly about how Big Magic has helped me move through a perfectionism blockage and I hope, if you watch it, that my insights help you to.

hqdefault

Then I thought I’d do a book review on Weekend Notes and I called it: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Book Review.

So, in a strange way I have been quite productive … dealing with fear and building courage to stand up and do what is in my heart to do.

But I have to be honest, writing a novel is a big project. It’s like a marathon level of focus, day after day. It took me over a year to write the first draft of The Living Death of Toddy James – most of it tapped into my Scrivener file during NaNoWriMo 2017. When I finished that draft, I was exhausted. I’d finally got the basic story out and I liked it.

Then anxiety crept in and I fiddled and fiddled with the manuscript filling in plot holes and other such things. Then I made excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly put the manuscript into an editor.

Then I went to the UK and found (to my surprise) that the level of my fiction writing was on par with the other students in the Fantasy Fiction course. I was stoked.

So, when I hit Australian soil again, I promised myself that I’d be brave and submit my story to an editor with a lot of years of experience and a good track record of helping authors actually bring their stories to publication.

I want my story to be the best fiction that I can make it. Not perfect. I can’t do perfect. I can’t please everyone. But I’d love to know that someone somewhere enjoyed reading what I wrote.

So I guess the next phase is about to begin. And to keep my mind from going totally crazy over what work is ahead of me with my manuscript, I’ve focused on creating book reviews, a YouTube video and a skillshare course.

Hopefully as time goes by I will finally figure out how to move my photos of the UK to some kind of show and tell thing-y, then I’ll be able to share more of what I experienced. But to tell the truth, I’ve kind of enjoyed allowing the travel dust to settle. Who knows when I’ll get around to sharing my UK photos and mini-musings.

In the meantime, Happy Creating!

My UK adventure – a few highlights

Tags

, , , , ,

My partner and I have been on a tour of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. We’re about a third of the way through our taster experience and I couldn’t be happier with what I have seen so far.

Here are some highlights so far:

I had an opportunity to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. Below, I am standing in front of the museum that was once Shakespeare’s home and birthplace. Apparently, he is buried at the Trinity Church but I didn’t have a chance to see that. Still, I had a fantastic time at this beautiful place. I hope some of Shakespeare’s genius rubbed off on my creative writing!

Shakespeare’s house - the place where he was born - Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s house – the place where he was born – Stratford-Upon-Avon

Flags flying - Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Flags flying – Entrance to Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s ghost had to go wee wee. Such a great thing to see at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Next we visited York.

I loved York. It has a wall surrounding the city and a moat too. And, apparently it is the most haunted city (city?) in England. I wasn’t there in the evening but I really enjoyed hearing about the things people have seen, like Roman soldiers marching down the street and the fact that certain buildings must have their windows painted white to stop a ghost from moving through the wall/windows and haunting people.

That’s a law in York. The windows of a particular house have to be painted white. I can’t remember the exact story but it was a woman who haunted the area so I was told.

A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.

A photo of the board outside the Golden Fleece pub about hauntings.

The Golden Fleece pub in York - with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.

The Golden Fleece pub in York – with my finger pointing to the sheep hanging over the door.

Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway - York

Me (Selina) posing in a stone archway – York

David and I playing around in York.

David and I playing around in York.

Hadrian’s Wall was fabulous. I’m not a big history buff, so everything I discover is fascinating to me.

I learned that Hadrian’s Wall was built by Roman soldiers in 122 AD.

That blows my mind. Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall - it was cold and sleeting rain that day.

Me leaning against Hadrian’s Wall – it was cold and sleeting rain that day.
Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall sign

Hadrian’s Wall sign

David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall

David, my partner, exploring Hadrian’s Wall

David, my partner was so excited to see Hadrian’s Wall, he took off like a kid to see it.

At one point, I wasn’t sure I was going to get him back on the bus. Honestly, he couldn’t stop grinning. This visit to Hadrian’s Wall was an absolute must on our itinerary for him.

I was so happy to see him so happy.

David and I - photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon
David and I – photo taken just before we left Stratford-Upon-Avon

Visiting these special places has been wonderful. One day it was sunny blue skies and warmth, the next it was drizzle rain and cold, but it didn’t matter – we both had a great time.

More instalments to come as I find places with reliable wifi.

The Tower of London

Tags

, , ,

Oh my goodness, I have so much to share with you but I haven’t had access to wifi for a while, so these updates are going to come well after the actual dates. But I hope this glimpse into my UK trip inspires your imagination as much as it does mine.

Last week when my partner flew over to London, we took some time to tour around and see the sights. One of the sights we went to was the Tower of London where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and many other gruesome things happened.

I took some time walking through the tower and observing all the armour displays. Below are some of the photos I took.

Selina at the Tower of London

Selina at the Tower of London

That’s me (above) and behind me is a wall of armour. It was a great room to visit and very surreal.

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

Armour at the Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

I also took time to see the Crown Jewels and appreciate the magnificence of workmanship that went into each piece. This was a great afternoon in London. Funny to say that since it was a place that has known such gruesome historical events.

I have to say, that I am not a historian, but my visit to the UK has been helping me to develop a deeper interest in learning more about history.

Also, learning about life in a castle is so helpful for my fantasy fiction story that I worked on during my week with David Farland. The course went really well and I met some fantastic authors – all with excellent story ideas. I’m very much looking forward to seeing each of them published in their chosen genre.

I will try to update my blog as I go, but as I said above, the wifi isn’t always reliable.

Today, I am in the Scottish highlands. I’ll write about that another day.

UK here I come

Tags

, , , ,

Tomorrow I fly out of Australia and will be on my way to the UK for a month.

I am super excited to be starting my holiday.

So it’s packing time and Miss Poppy decided it was time to check out the interior of my suitcase. Rocket tolerated some photos with me which I took with my new selfie stick. And Jack spent time inspecting my suitcase as I considered what I might take with me.

My companions are so sweet to look after me in this way.

I’ll miss them while I am away but I feel good that my best friend will be caring for them during that time.

My partner is set to jet off and meet me in the UK a couple of days after I go because I’m going to Oxford to do my writing course.

I’ve got a couple of new ebooks downloaded for the trip:

  1. Three Bedrooms One Corpse by Charlaine Harris
  2. Maim Your Characters: How injuries work in Fiction by Samantha Keel
  3. Play It Away by Charlie Hoehn

So that’s one fiction novel, one writing how-to, and one non-fiction book on how to overcome anxiety through incorporating play in your everyday life.

I’ve also got a few digital puzzles downloaded and I’m currently listening to Voyager by Diana Gabaldon.

It is going to be a big adventure for me. I have a fair bit of character development done on my fantasy story, although there is always more I could do. I’ve got some setting sorted. Conflicts sketched out and an idea of the plot. I wouldn’t say that I’ve got all the novel puzzle pieces in my head but it’ll come as I relax and enjoy this travel adventure.

I’m not sure if I will have an opportunity to post here during my travels but if I can, I will.

UK here I come!

 

Dragon Sketching

Tags

, , , ,

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

Tags

, , ,

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

Tags

, ,

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!