Tuesday, 13 November 2018

NaNoWriMo Writer Link-Up


Hello! Yes, it's a slightly bashful greeting from me after such a prolonged absence! (But seriously I think the days of a host of teen Christian girls blogging away are dying out as we discover social media lol). Hope you're all going well :) Let's cut to the chase - the lovely Christine over at Musings of an Elf is holding part two of her writer's link up and since I am doing Nano this year, I'm joining in.

1. How's the writing going?
Surprisingly much better than I expected. The first few days did't go so well - I had a novel planned out and I just wasn't digging it. I couldn't get into the story and so I did a complete switch and decided that instead of beginning a novel from scratch, I was going to be a Rebel Nano-er. I went back to my other story and started continuing with that and I've done much better!

2. What's been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?
Bit of background, my sister and I made this story up about 14-15 years ago (HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG? DOES THIS MEAN I AM OLD?!) and I wrote it down by by hand, with a pencil, in an exercise book. Over the years, we have added to and revised our story and tried desperately to smooth out the plot holes that were inevitable since we made it up so long ago. I've typed up a couple of versions since then but never finished them because this story has a hundred different sub plots and is LONG. I've just been enjoying writing, re-living bits, and seeing the latest version form beneath my hands.

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?
The realisation that one of my characters is actually severely depressed and needs a good psychologist (although those wouldn't have existed in 1882) was a bit of a surprise. I'm afraid my heroine dumps him because he's a bit too melancholy - oops.

4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who's your favourite to write about?
Christine how long do you want this answer to be?! I have a ton of characters who all have a part to play... I love most of them pretty well and am enjoying getting to know them more and more. My favourite would be either Mary (sweet and good but not too good) or Abe (what a guy!).

5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you'd be? Would you take any different actions than they have?
Oooh I like this question but it's not the easiest! Hmm, perhaps Mary since I am writing a lot of the novel through her eyes. Yes, I would act differently - mainly because I'm a product of the 21st century and wouldn't be stifled by convention and society rules as much as she has been. In fact, I'd probably be ostracized by everyone for being too outspoken and confident so maybe it's a good thing I haven't been transported.

6. Give us the first sentence of paragraph and then give us 2 (or 3) more favourite snippets!
Noooooo but I haven't edited it yet! Here's a snippet but do remember that I am trying to get words down as fast as possible. I will go back and edit after and add in lots more description. For now, its about trying to get the action down.

Before she could stop herself, she also saw that Abe Olson was in church and that quite unmistakeably, he was watching her. Turning her head away from those piercing green eyes, Mary managed to make her way down the aisle after Mama and Papa without further mishap. Why were her cheeks burning so and her heart pounding? This was getting ridiculous. Abe Olson meant nothing to her – nothing whatsoever!

Don't judge me πŸ˜“

7.  Have you come across any problem areas?
Hahahaha.. um, YES! Let me put it this way: we created the story when we were tweens/teens and based it off 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and a few other books/ history. Trying to make this story sound half realistic really is something else lol.

8. What's been your biggest victory with writing the novel at this point?
Staying on track with the word count. Nothing short of a miracle!

9. Be honest, have you killed off any characters yet?
I'm too soft to. (Having said that we killed off a ton of people in the prequel with cholera).

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel as looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough cough*)? Tell all!
I work 9 days a fortnight (ie Monday-Friday with every 2nd Friday off) + am training for a marathon. I normally don't get time to write until after dinner at night and I'm the kind of person who can't go to bed too late (e.g. after 9:30) or else I'll be way too tired the next day. Word sprints have been an absolute revelation this Nano. If I write for about an hour (2 x 30 min words sprints), I can get quite a bit done! My main distraction is my sister's gorgeous little kitten who is about eight weeks old, incredible lively, and insists on attacking my arm as I write. To be honest, I distract myself too by scooping her up and giving big cuddles <3

So there you have it! Are you doing Nano? How's it going for you?

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

It's OK to not be OK

The post title "It's OK to not be OK" comes from lyrics in Jessie J's "Who you Are" song. This post isn't necessarily going to be the cheeriest you've ever read, but I'd encourage you to read it anyway and let me know what you think! Hello, by the way. Yes, I know... It's been a long long time, but I've been busy with life πŸ™ˆ

Recently, my boyfriend and I attended a large sporting event. Outside the stadium, volunteers were supplying blue glow bracelets to promote a major Australian mental health organisation. We both grabbed one and inside the stadium, I made sure mine was on full display.

Five years ago, I didn't believe depression existed. Today, I advocate for aids like the organisation above because I have seen and felt the effects of mental health on myself and others in my personal life, my professional world, and society in general.

Christians especially seem to struggle with the concept of mental health and depression in particular. How many times have you heard that a Christian cannot possibly be depressed for they have the Joy of the Lord? If you're suffering mental health issues, then maybe you're being attacked by Satan and in that case, maybe you're not even a Christian in the first place. Sadly, this extreme reaction can and does happen. Few people have an issue with physical health problems but somehow mental health can still looked on entirely differently, especially in Christian circles. Take me for example. I used to be very uncomfortable with the idea of people having depression, thought it probably did not exist, and that psychologists were bad. Turns out, I've likely had it myself for many years.

There are many different mental health disorders but two of the most common are anxiety and depression. Chances are you know someone who has or has had one or both of these. Maybe you have. I certainly have suffered from both.

Anxiety and depression don't happen because you're a bad Christian and / or the devil is controlling you. There are many causes including chemical imbalance in the brain, environment, abuse, traumatic circumstances and more. Even the symptoms of depression / anxiety may be different from what you think. Whilst suicide, self harm, and feeling sad are all results of mental health illness, so are tiredness, fidgetiness, panic attacks, feeling worthless or bad anxiety. (Useful info from mental health site Beyond Blue).

Just as it's not wrong to see a doctor for physical ailments, it's not wrong to see a doctor, counsellor or psychologist to help with mentsl health. In fact, if you are suffering from a mental health illness, I strongly urge you to seek some kind of professional help. It could be life changing. God often heals us through prayer AND medical intervention - we see this all the time with physical illness, so why should it be any different with mental health? (To be strictly homest, I need to do a better job at this myself and I do understand that it is H.A.R.D. to overcome some of the stigma around this subject.)

If you're reading this and thinking, *thatst me!" or feeling triggered by this post, can I encourage you to seek out professional help, or at the very least look for information to help. Here are some suggestions:


https://www.beyondblue.org.au
https://www.lifeline.org.au
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression
https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress#
https://au.reachout.com

You're not alone xx

Sunday, 17 September 2017

It's been a while...

Hi! It's me! Do you remember who I am? It's been quite a while, hasn't it? I'm back home (for a month now) from what has been the most amazing, challenging, and rewarding experience in my life so far and I wish so much that I could drop everything and go right back.  Yup, I'm back from my (life-changing) travel and camp in USA and what can I say other than it was so much more full on that I thought it would be and so SO much more incredible than I could have possibly imagined.

I met people from 15 different countries around the world, made friends for life with some of them, met up with the wonderful Ashley of Inklings Press (see her post here about it), and got to know and trust in the love of my life (His name's Jesus πŸ˜‰)more and more.

I'm already planning my next trip back and between that and a very packed social life right now, I can't promise that I'll be around here much, but I'll try!

Keep an eye out for a more detailed post on a topic very dear to my heart coming hopefully soon!

Love and light xx

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hallo, it's me... General Life Update

Uh... it's been a while, hasn't it? Still, better late than never, right? (Fingers crossed this is not what I said on my last post!)  I have thought about blogging reasonably frequently in the last month or so since I've last posted but life is so crazily, stressfully, happily, depressingly FULL right now that blogging just slips further and further down the list of things to do.  Reading has as well so I'm afraid I did very badly on my March list and even worse for April - especially since I didn't even have a list.


So why is life so packed right now? The number one reason has to be that in less than 3 weeks, I fly from Australia to USA for 3 months and I've still plenty of preparation to do.  Why? I'm travelling for a month then working as a camp counsellor for two months.  It's going to be an amazingly fun and unforgettable experience I know - but (why does life always have to have buts?) when I signed up for it eight or nine months ago, my life was completely different from where it is now which is making things a little difficult! I now have a demanding full time job, my sister is getting married at the end of the year (and I'm maid of honour) plus the last 7-8 months have seen a massive upheaval of my personal life and various relationships. It's a LOT to handle all at once and honestly, I don't know how I could get by if I didn't have a God who makes all things possible or friends who listen to me rant and pour out my fears then pray for me, message me, and just care for me. It means the world.

 I'm going all Anne Shirley with the capitals and italics aren’t I?! Still, hopefully that gives a bit of an idea of why I haven't blogged lately. By the time I come home from work, I'm too tired to blog and I'm stressing about USA preparation and then I just lie on the couch cuddling my sister's kitten and do nothing πŸ˜“πŸ˜“ Speaking of kittens, here he is:

Isn't he a gorgeous boy? Aragorn (Ari) is temporarily living at our house and is one of the cutest, friendliest kittens I have known πŸ’“

Anyway, I won't have much time (or wifi) to blog over the next three months but I will (believe it or not) have time to read! Part of my travel in the USA includes several hour coach trips so I will pack reading material and try to smash out my monthly readings.

Here's my hit list:

May:
Old-  Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
New- The Magic World (E Nesbit)
Rhyme - Collected Poetry (AB 'Banjo' Paterson) - half
Renew- Book of John

June:
Old- The Abbey Girls (E J Oxenham)
New- Nineteen Eighty-four (George Orwell)
Rhyme- Collected Poetry (AB 'Banjo' Paterson) - other half
Renew- Book of Joshua

July:
Old- Miss Billy's Decision (E H Porter)
New- Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte)
Rhyme- Shakespeare's sonnets (William Shakespeare) - half
Renew- Book of Romans

August:
Old- Whatever I decide at that point
New- Three Men and a Maid (PG Wodehouse)
Rhyme- Shakespeare's sonnets (William Shakespeare) - other half
Renew- Book of Isaiah

You may notice that they all seem to be older books - well that's simply because the older books are available as free pdfs online so I can read them on my phone :)

Finally, I'm not sure when I'll be posting next, but in case you go through anything tough or just want to praise God, I'm going to leave what is currently my favourite worship song here. Have a listen - it's well worth it!


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast aka Cinematography and Controversy and why to watch it

Unless you live under a rock (and if you do, thanks so much for coming out to read this!), you should be aware that Disney is releasing their live action remake of Beauty and the Beast round about now. That's big news in itself, especially considering the enormous success of Cinderella back in 2015 but the last few weeks the buzz around this new release is that its being hyped as containing the first openly gay Disney character and according to the director, ""a nice, exclusively gay moment". Naturally, waves of outrage are surging through the Christian community and equally naturally, every film / book issue isn't REALLY an issue until all bloggers have fully expressed their opinion (whether wanted or not) so here I am.

Let's all take a deep breath. Yes, I was being rather sarcastic a sentence or two ago but to tell you the truth, this whole shindig is making me roll my eyes somewhat. Having said that, I realise there are people out there who are genuinely concerned and others who are probably unsure so I'm explaining why I definitely will be going to watch it.

So why is everyone so upset? From what I understand and hear, Christians especially, are unhappy with Disney's decision because it 1. ruins a family film, 2. Disney are pushing their gay "agenda" and 3. it's glorifying sin. If there's any I've missed, feel free to post in the comments and I can address them there.

1. It ruins a family film. As far as I know, there's only one scene which really displays homosexuality and its fairly minor so 95% of the film shouldn't be ruined! It's also a fantastic opportunity to explore this topic with kids and have that conversation around homosexuality and what the Bible teaches. It's better that they hear it from you than someone else and this really could be the moment.  Plus, it's a great way to show them a very clear example of a movie portraying something God says is wrong as right as they will inevitably come across other similar messages and perhaps be confused. Also, I really hope you're not boycotting Beauty and the Beast and letting your children watch Downton Abbey because that is slightly hypocritical πŸ˜‰ (Not having a go, just a reminder to everyone, including me, that as Christians we should be consistent.)


2. Disney are pushing their gay "agenda". I would be more surprised if they weren't at this stage but that still doesn't mean we shouldn't see it.  Yes, perhaps, Walt Disney would never have allowed it but he's long since gone.  Disney is not a Christian company and they are not run by Christians, so why do we expect them to hold Christian values? A whole lot of of different agendas are being constantly pushed upon us in films - euthanasia, open relationships, nudity and more are all being portrayed as normal in many modern films. We shouldn't be surprised at it but expect it.  Jesus calls us to go into the world and to missionally embrace culture (my pastor's coinage here not mine). This does not mean that we participate in or applaud sin but rather, engage with those around us rather than boycott everything that offends us and cut ourselves off from others outside our Christian bubble. I read an excellent article when Me Before You was released which I can't find now talking about how we need to watch it so we can have meaningful conversations with others about these issues. The same is true here.  Yes, "agendas" are always going to be pushed - whether right or wrong - but with the Bible and Holy Spirit, we know what is right and wrong and should not be adversely affected.


3. It's glorifying sin. Because bestiality is not? Ok, so maybe you're thinking that the beast bit is ok because it's so fantastic no one could possibly think of it as real. On the other hand, homosexuality is much more common in today's society so it's more dangerous to glorify it. Well, God makes it pretty clear that sin is sin whatever it is. Yes, something that is wrong is potentially being shown as a positive and good thing. Yes, sin may well be glorified in this movie but you know what? I think Jesus would go watch it because (see point above), He engaged with culture. He went to the places where the super religious righteous people would not go and associated with the people they would never acknowledge to win their hearts. I'm watching this movie not only because I think I'll enjoy it but because it's an opportunity to experience what those around me are interested in and to better understand and win their hearts.
Picture from Risen which is well worth a watch!
Finally, we're arguing over this scene before the movie has even been released. I've found from experience, that you can't judge very accurately if you don't know ALL the details so I'm keeping a very open mind for now. I love the trailer, I love the lead actors and I can't wait to watch it! Maybe I'm preaching to the converted here but my advice would be to consider the facts wisely and carefully rather than making an emotional and rushed response and make sure that whatever you do or don't do, it's ultimately for God and His glory.

As for me, I'm going with friends to a gorgeous old fashioned cinema with velvety seats and chandeliers to watch it on the big screen with a fancy dinner at a posh restaurant after. Bring it on!

Friday, 3 March 2017

March Reading List + Apology

How, HOW is it March already? The new year started just a week or two ago, surely? But no, time paces heedlessly on and in a couple of weeks, we'll be a quarter of the way through 2017. It's scary how fast time moves as you get older although this year it is exciting because every day brings me closer to my USA trip! (More to come on that front😊). First things first though, last post I promised a review of The Lizzy Bennet Diaries for Hamlette's "I Love Jane Austen" week and I'm afraid it never eventuated. I know I keep saying it, but real life is very full on at the moment and even though I started my review, I never got round to finishing it. If you're reading this Hamlette, I do apologise! One day....

The onset of March also means that my first month of attempting dedicated reading is over and I come to report on my progress and also set this month's goal.

New: The Hobbit
I tried it before and couldn't make it past the first few pages but this time I got through and I actually rather enjoyed it! I struggled a bit with the poetry throughout but right from the onset, loved the quality of writing. Talking about literature? The Hobbit is exactly that and the skill of word use interwoven with the darkness of life, passion of the brave and amusing touches of English humour enthralled me - and well, made me pretty jealous actually. I wish I could write like that! I probably will go back and watch all The Hobbit movies now. I've only gotten through the first one before, mainly because I've never really enjoyed Richard Armitage's acting. Sacrilegious, I know.

Old: Yes there were some of these including The Golden Road by LM Montgomery of which I finally bought my own copy! Browsing the book section in second hand shops is ALWAYS a good idea.

Rhyme: Um... reading poetry hasn't been my thing of late. I used to love writing poetry and reading it so I really should get back into it. This is my way of confessing that I did NOT read a book of poetry over February.  Most remiss of me. I'm trying to feel guilty.

Soul: Good and bad news on this front. The good is that I kept up better than I expected with the Bible readings but the bad is that of late, I've gotten out of my routine (not completely my fault) and they've fallen by the wayside a bit.


New month, new beginning, new hope. Here is March's reading list:

New: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Old: Jane of Lantern Hill by LM Montgomery (I read it recently but it's one of my very favourites of hers so why not get a double dose)
Rhyme: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Soul: Keep up with the weekly readings for March + finish Mark's gospel.

Any suggestions for April?

xx

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I Love Jane Austen Week Tag


Whoohoo! The awesome Hamlette is hosting a Jane Austen week where all things related to that mighty author and her works will be discussed and celebrated by us mere blogging mortals around the world. To begin with, Hamlette has come up with a delightfully fun tag so with no further rambling, let's get into it.

1.  Which did you experience first, a Jane Austen book or a movie based on one?
Book! When I was about 13, my sister studied Pride and Prejudice for school and it was her first introduction to Jane Austen. She told me the whole story and although I admit I had a somewhat confused understanding of everything that went on, once some friends lent us the BBC mini series a few years later, I read Pride and Prejudice through first. It was definitely enjoyable and then, then, I saw The Rightful Adaptation and was hooked forever after on all things Jane Austen.

2.  What is your favorite Austen book?

Pride and Prejudice! Mostly because it's the one I'm most familiar with. I read the other ones in a row one after the other so they sometimes get a little jumbled in my mind.

3.  Favorite heroine?  Why do you like her best?

They all have their flaws - which is a good thing because then they're more relatable - but on the whole, I like Lizzy best because of her humour, spunk and ability to admit and correct her mistakes.

4.  Favorite hero?  Why do you like him best?

Mr. Darcy is the kind of man you crush on but Mr. Knightly is the kind of guy you want to marry, right? Dear George is the perfect blend of gentlemanliness, fun, and dash of imperfection.

5.  Do you have a favorite film adaptation of Austen's work?

A picture speaks a thousand words.

6.  Have your Austen tastes changed over the years?  (Did you start out liking one story best, but now like another better?  Did you think she was boring at first, then changed your mind?  Etc.)

No not really.... sorry bit of a boring answer! I think I didn't really get into the book Emma but loved the BBC series of it, if that counts.

7.  Do you have any cool Austen-themed things (mugs, t-shirts, etc)?  (Feel free to share photos if you want.)
I do but I can't be bothered to get photos now... I have a cute little magnetic badge with "I love Jane Austen" on it plus a picture of Jane Austen, a little Jane Austen notebook and coolest of all, a beautiful set of Jane Austen commemoration postal stamps sent to me from England when they were released over there!

8.  If you could ask Jane Austen one question, what would you ask her?
Deep deep down, do you really like Fanny Price?

9.  Imagine someone is making a new film of any Jane Austen story you choose, and you get to cast the leads.  What story do you want filmed, and who would you choose to act in it?


Oooh, I love questions like this! Persuasion absolutely needs a BBC mini series makeover! Casting isn't my strong point but let's have a go.

Frederick Wentworth - Dan Stevens
Anne Elliot - Keira Knightley
Captain Benwick - Tom Hiddleston
Sir Walter Elliot - Ian McKellan
Lady Russell - Emma Thompson
(Captain Wentworth or Captain Dreamy? ;))

10.  Share up to five favorite Jane Austen quotations!

In no particular order:

"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you," - Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice).

"You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”
She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued:
“You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.” - Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” - Mr. Knightly (Emma)

That's all for this time but tune in tomorrow to see my review of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries!

Until then xx