Literaleigh, Writing

Day 8 #introtopoetry

list with border

Prompt : Pleasure

Device : Anaphora (repetition of a word/phrase at the beginning of a line)

 

Lists

Lists for shopping – bread, milk and jam

Lists for camping – torches, hat, billy can

Lists of party invitees – Robert, Jill and Sam

Lists have their place,

They free brainspace –

Then there’s,

Lists to do before you die.

The bucket list’s the trend.

Check, a show on west end

Check, the northern lights

Check, Egyptian sights

Check, a polar bear, French cycle, Machu Picchu trek

Check, Check, Check.

But what if you should die before the list’s complete?

Do you lie on death’s bed with thoughts of rank defeat?

Or worse, the list’s through, well before your dying day

Is there nothing left to live for? Will your life just slip away?

Lists they don’t account, for the unbidden and the free,

A yellow moon, a friend’s smile, a perfect sip of tea.

A small gift wrapped with love and care

That funny story just made to share

So let life’s pleasures be

and leave the

Lists for shopping.

Lists for camping.

Lists for party invitees.

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Day 6 #introtopoetry

Prompt:  Screens

Device :  Enjambment  (don’t know what this is? – I didn’t either. It means splitting a sentence or clause over line-break with no end punctuation eg comma.)

2D life

Tablet threatens

To touch your nose.

Blind

To dewdrops on the rose.

Ears plugged,

Phone pinging.screen burst poem

Deaf

To magpie’s dawn singing.

2D monsters swim

Before your eyes.

Miss

Lightning crack stormy skies.

Hit like. 800 friends you

Do not know.

Forget

How conversations flow.

Eat with family,

Head bent.

Never

Ask how their day went.

Feeling lost and blue,

Screen friends

Can’t

Hug you.

Literaleigh, Writing

Day 5 #introtopoetry

Woo hoo! I made it half way. And a fun way to reach the middle mark is with a limerick challenge – here’s my two efforts.

Prompt: Imperfect

Form: Limerickleprechaun

 

It’s hard to find the right line

To fit with the beat and the rhyme.

I gave it a shot,

But Yeats it is not.

I’ll try a bit harder next time.

 

Next time….

 

There was a young man named Steven,

Who had some trouble believin’.

When they called, “Fire, Fire”

He replied, “Liar, Liar”

And now his young wife is a-grievin’.

 

 

 

 

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Day 4 #introtopoetry

Path to sea

Prompt:  Journey

Device:  Simile

At Journey’s End

Like an undemanding lover

Patiently you wait for my return.

Although I’ve laid with others,

You forgive –

my fickle ways.

I know your lumps and dips

And unfashionable,

Squishy bits

And the way the seabreeze

Caresses me

When I lie in your embrace.

Oh, those that I’ve endured,

The low and barely stable,

The smelly and the squeaky

And the just too-perfect,

Crisply starched.

Curse, the ocean-going ones,

All sickening and rocky.

The hard hip-breaking types

Under canvass,

Flapping and leaky

Soon this house

Won’t hold me and

I’ll wander once again.

But there’s comfort in knowing

My own bed’s at

Journey’s end.

 

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Day 3 #introtopoetry

I haven’t quit but my internet connection did, for two days.  Hence I am posting Day 3 now. Rather then inundate you with 3 poetry days all at one I will still post one per day. For the Day 3 acrostic challenge I wrote two poems. The first in praise of my writing group and a preface to a blog entry that I will soon post about the value and workings of a good writing critique group. The second is a rather childish offering but a good excuse to post a picture of my constant companion – the distractordog.

Prompt : Friends

Form:  Acrostic

Writing Group

We gather each fortnight

Round a table with tea

I want to say it’s engaging and educating but

There’ isn’t any ‘e’

I‘d like to say it’s fun and friendly but there’s definitely

No eff. So I’ll say our

Group’s supportive, informative andteapot writing group

Giving. Its listening, critiquing

Reading aloud, commiserating

Oh, and congratulating too

Uplifting and motivating. A real

Pleasure to be with you.

 

Faithful Friend

Muzzling wet nose

Yucky licky kissesDistractordog for blog

Devoted doting eyes

Obedient for food

Gambolling in the garden

Gorgeous waggy tail

Your faithful friend and mine

 

 

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Day 2 #introtopoetry

Day 2 Intro to poetry wordpress challenge

Prompt:  A face

Device:  Alliteration

 

The Retail Face

A plastered on smile,

The latest in style.

She’s never grumpy or glib.

 

She’ll offer you socks

And tick off each box,

Of phrases cheerily chirped.

 

You look good in that.

It goes with this hat.

Are you paying cash or with card?

 

Become an insider,

an email subscriber,

Sign up to our convenient club.

 

Won’t react to the rude

The fussy or crude

She’ll keep the smile pleasantly pasted.

 

I think, as I shop,

When did they swap,

Humans for these mindless machines?

 

But I look in her eyes

And note with surprise

Her eyes mismatch with her mouth

 

Yes, her eyes are her own

They say take me home

Away from this tiring tedium

 

Where I can shout.

Scream and sing out.

I am mad and I’m real.

and I don’t give a damn that you don’t care for that colour.

It doesn’t come in ANY OTHER.

 

shopping mall window

 

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Having a stab at #introtopoetry

Poet, I am not, but I take heart in knowing that the only path leads upwards as far as my knowledge and appreciation of verse and all its forms. I promised in this blog that I would push myself out of my comfort zone. Well, writing poetry for a ten day challenge is out of my zone and into outer space. So here goes.

Day One of the Intro to Poetry WordPress challenge.

Prompt: Water

Form: Haiku

Once wild pristine stream.
Mine tunnels. Sandstone bed cracks
Toxic soup stagnates.

 

Nepean River for Haiku
The Nepean River near Douglas Park, a once clear river.  Polluted as result of longwall mining. Large bubbles can be seen rising to the surface from the fractured river bed.

 

 

Book Reviews

Wool

By Hugh Howey            Century 2013                Adult fiction

Score: 9/10                    Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Dystopia

The community in Wool are confined to an underground ‘silo’. 150 floors are joined by a single metal staircase bustling with porters transporting goods and messages between the levels. There are floors for agriculture, supplies, deputy stations, apartments, the down-deep mechanical level and the mysterious, powerful, IT placed in the mid-levels. The ‘wool’ in the title is a reference to the material of the cleaning pads that doomed outcasts must use to scrub the outside camera lenses. The view of a desolate landscape captured by these lenses is projected onto a screen in the upper level cafeteria. This is the community’s only connection to the outside world.

Within the confines of the silo many restrictions are imposed on love, birth , marriage and communication. Order is maintained by discouraging curiosity, limiting interaction between levels and imposing taboos around speaking of the outside. Secrets are kept, and lies are told about the past and the ‘cleaning’ procedures. Those who ask too many questions risk  being sentenced to the publicly-viewed death by ‘cleaning’ in the toxic outer world. Who is pulling the wool over the eyes of the silo community and why? Can Juliette, the newly appointed sheriff, cut through the deception or is she also doomed like the truth-seekers that have come before.

The setting and the dystopian concept of this novel are intriguing but it is the characters that drive the story forward and make this a tense read. Without giving too many spoilers, the unwelcome deaths of three likeable characters in the first quarter of the book sets the pace of the gripping narrative that you never trust to deliver happy outcomes. Juliette the central character is a non-nonsense, down-deep mechanic when she is approached to take on the high-up position of sheriff. She is a well-drawn character who this reader barracked for every step of the way. Although there are action sequences aplenty these never dominate human dramas and relationships. Even minor characters are carefully and often beautifully described.

Perhaps the only character that was weak and hard to get a grasp on was Lukas – Juliette’s love interest. It was difficult to understand what Juliette sees in him. The reason for this unflattering, ambiguous portrayal may be become more evident in future books.

Overall this post-apocalyptic world and its people really hooked me and I will definitely be buying the next two books in the series – Shift and Dust.

Recommend for: Everybody, even those who do not generally read science fiction/dystopia will find the human element of this story has depth and warmth.

Use to writers : Hugh Howey shows us that rules can be broken as long as they are broken with flair. Some of the conventions broken by Wool :

– the central character does not make an appearance until pg 89 and doesn’t get her own POV chapter until page 123 (try pitching that to an editor!).

– two POV characters are killed off early.

– there are many changes of point of view. It is written in third person limited but Juliette is only one of many characters (over six) that get a section of limited viewpoint. In the wrong hands this technique can dilute interest in the main character’s journey but Howey uses it as a technique to elevate suspense. The multiple viewpoints enable the reader to visit dramatic events in various parts of the setting and timeline that impact on Juliette’s struggle. The reader forms a greater connection to minor characters but is always  anxious to return to Juliette’s scenes to check her progress.

 

 

Literaleigh

In and Out of my Comfort Zone 2

My second (somewhat belated) post of things I have done IN and OUT of comfort zone. The out is the important one as these are the things that  have taken a little courage or effort to push beyond the everyday.

IN : Stayed in a lighthouse keepers house. It has always been my fantasy to live as a lighthouse keeper, far from civilization, surrounded by the wild ocean and coastal bush. I got to live this fantasy for two nights at Green Cape Lighthouse in Ben Boyd National Park near Eden. We had unlimited access to the classic lighthouse and an enthusiastic ranger to give us some fascinating historical insights.IMG_4221

We learnt that in the sitting room adjoining our bedroom an inquest was held into the tragic wreck of the Ly-ee-moon in 1886. This ship grounded on the rock platform attempting to round the cape, resulting in the violent death of 71 people, many of whom were women and children. It was eerie to sit on the lounge chair within sight of the churning ocean and think about the harrowing testimonies that took place in that very room. The third officer who was at the helm at the time of the grounding blamed the Captain for not responding to his call for assistance. Both men were charged with manslaughter after the Green Cape hearing but were later exonerated by jury in Sydney.

The exIMG_4194perience lived up to my expectation but I have a new slant on the life of lighthouse keeper families. One of the keeper’s living in our accommodation had eleven children and his assistant in the neighbouring cottage had 16 (or was it 17) children. The wives had to be trained nurses and teachers and only had a cook as help. At least the children would have had fun playing with each other. Right? Wrong. The children of the head lighthouse keeper were not allowed to mix with the assistant’s children and were kept indoors when the assistant’s family were out, and vice a versa. This was to eliminate the risk of arguments between fathers over their offspring’s spats. I think I will revise my fantasy and be very happy with my breif cushy lighthouse keepers experience.

 

OUT:

Became a nervous passenger (again)

I got in the car with my L-plated son. Ok, so this shouldn’t really count because it is inevitable (and I made my husband do the first twenty hours). If you are a parent it is just one of life’s humps that has to be endured. Unlike teaching your child to read, catch a ball or even cook, there is little joy in sitting white-knuckled in the passenger seat trying to stay calm, very calm. And its hard to explain how to do something that you rarely analyse.

‘Which way do I turn the wheel to get out of here,’ my son asks.

I don’t know I just do it, I feel like saying, but I don’t. I grab an imaginary wheel and pretend to reverse the car out of the car park. ‘Anti-clockwise,’ I say.learners collage 2 cropped

Completing the 120 hours of driving time required for a NSW drivers licence is onerous. Every time I’m tempted to just hop in the car and relax into the driver’s seat a little voice says, You should be making Unruly Son drive or you’ll still be filling in his driving log on the way to the retirement village.’ I know parents who have put the task off and then Freddy’s Higher School Certificate looms (can’t do it now) and then suddenly he’s off to university or has to move away for work (no time then). Before they know it their Freddy is in his twenties and is restricted to using friends or public transport to get around. I shouldn’t whinge I only have two children and Son Unruly is my last to go through the driving log marathon. I know, all too soon, he’ll be an independent driver and I will be anxiously lying awake at night hoping to hear the sound of the car pull into the drive.

Let go of my manuscript

I sent the manuscript I have been working on for four years off to a manuscript assessor Was it ready? Probably not. Will it ever be ready? That’s what I need to know, no matter how painful that revelation may be. The novel I have sent off is the first book in a middle grade wannabe trilogy. I’ve heard some words of wisdom regarding series advising to write all the books before submitting, in order to minimize plot inconsistencies. Unfortunately with this practice you have no idea (or at least I haven’t) if the whole premise is flawed or unmarketable or targeted at the wrong age group. Could I be  wasting my time doing subsequent books in the series? Halfway through Book 2  I had this very crisis of confidence and realized I needed some professional feedback.

It was difficult pressing that send button knowing that a stranger will be reading my manuscript with a critical eye. In a month’s time I may be sitting in a corner rocking after reading the critique. However at least I will have an independent opinion on whether to move forward.

Any writers who have any thoughts on how to handle series submissions I would be interested to hear.

 

Literaleigh, Writing

Writing at Midnight

IMG_4027

I am going to indulge in a bit of magical thinking. I am going to be sitting at my computer writing at midnight and hope the act of writing in the first minutes of 2016 will be a portent for the rest of the year.

Truth is, I love not having to do anything ‘special’ for New Years Eve. My big kids have their own parties to attend. My husband is worn out after a hectic year and will probably just slump in front of Netflix sci-fi. That means I’m free! Not just to do what I like, but to do what I like without a pinch of FOMO. Yes, FOMO. My daughter taught me this acronym it means Fear Of Missing Out. I usually scoff at sms abbreviations but I find myself using this one more and more. Generally I apply it do my overactive, overcurious dog who wants to be everywhere she’s not.  At the neighbours when she is home, with every dog who walks past, outside when inside, inside when outside, upstairs when downstairs, eating your dinner when she has her own feast. She signifies all these longings by heartfelt crying. I’m thinking of renaming her FOMO.

I digress. New Year’s Eve is rife with FOMO. I don’t miss my younger years stressing over where to go and who with. You had to have a good time with drinking and shouting involved otherwise you felt like a loser.  In my experience this pressure to have  maximum revelry generally led to disappointment. Going out with friends on other nights of the year was less loaded with expectation and lecherous drunken strangers.

Later in life when the children were small we’d troop down to be beach close to Wollongong and watch the nine o’clock fireworks. Without small children to oh and ah fireworks are an anti-climax. Call me a Grinch, but nowadays I can’t help thinking about all that money going up in smoke and all the scared dogs and wildlife.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year’s Eve whether it be a noisy or quiet celebration or none at all. I’ll be sitting at my computer doing what I love – what better way to bring in the New Year.