What I Read Recently: If I Had a Velociraptor

Dear World,

Confession. Sometimes I buy Children’s Picture Books for no other reason than they are super adorable and super cute.

Yesterday afternoon I’d managed to get off work early (Yay! Only two more working days until the end of the year!) so I went down Mairangi Bay, where I live, with my mum. She was getting her nails done, and I decided to check out the local bookstore (which has been there for ages), as it has just moved into a new premises a few shops over and has HEAPS of new stock.

Anyway, so I was looking through the Picture Book section because they really do have a brilliant selection of picture books and I found this: If I Had A Velociraptor.

Raptor Cover

Now what you need to understand, is that when I was younger I was a pretty huge fan or dinosaurs. I also love Jurassic Park, so this really, really appealed to me.

If I Had a Velociraptor, by George O’Conner, is SUPER funny. It is basically about this girl who dreams of having a pet dinosaur, and the illustrations are ridiculously cute.

If you are in any way like me, and love a good picture book, totally try and find it because it is so adorable and the dinosaur reminds me of my cat in SO many ways it is crazy.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite illustrations:

rAPTOR2

Raptor4

rAPTOR3

Raptor 1

Dare – Actually Finished Now

I am so excited!

So at long, long last this weekend I managed to finish the story I’ve been working on, ‘Dare’.

I sort of came up with the idea for Dare accidently.

See, the thing is I have pretty strong opinions on Super Heroes, and if you were to ask me which one is my favorite I would give you this emphatic answer which would take a million years saying that Robin (from Batman and Robin) is my favorite, specifically, Dick Grayson.

Anyway, I’ve always been super frustrated that they have never made a movie about Robin’s transition into Nightwing, because I think it would be pretty difficult to be a side kick and trying to prove yourself as a real super hero.

As a matter of fact, the more I thought of it, the more I figured, hey, this idea of having to prove yourself, a lot of young people could relate to this. Having to do difficult things even though you don’t want to? Having to deal with other’s opinions? All super relevant to young people.

So in light of these thoughts, I created my own version of what happens when a sidekick becomes a super hero.

The result of this is ‘Romulus Gray,’ my latest protagonist. A young man with a secret – that he is a super hero’s side kick called Dare – and must work on his own as he is suddenly thrust into the world of being a proper super hero when the hero he served with dies.

I am actually pretty proud of it, so totally have a read if you’d like. I’ve uploaded into PDF, because I tend to read the PDF versions of my books on my iPad.

I’m going to do a couple of posts on how I do story line editing because as much as I love Dare, there are a LOT of things I am going to change.

Enjoy! Dare

What I Read This Weekend: Girl Online

Is it terrible that before I found out about the book ‘Girl Online’ I’d never heard of Zoe Sugg or Zoella (as she is called on her blog/vlog/etc)?

I am kind of bummed that this is the case because holy moly, I really, really, really enjoyed Girl Online.

Okay, so the premise of the book is this:

There’s this girl, Penny, who lives in Brighton in the UK, and her parents are involved in wedding planning/purchasing. She’s this total walking embarrassment who has really awkward things that happen to her ALL THE TIME and the only place she can be truly herself is on her blog as ‘Girl Online.’ Basically what happens is that Penny’s parents are contracted to coordinate a wedding in New York shortly before Christmas (Christmas story, YAY!) and while there, Penny meets a boy named Noah and it’s all pretty emotional/dramatic/cute/perfect from there. I won’t spoil anything but it all gets pretty crazy.

I loved pretty much everything to do with this book.

Firstly, the main character while being that typical ‘I am super uncool,’ kind of character had this really raw flaw. Most characters float blissfully through the novel lamenting their social circumstances. Penny wrestled deeply with anxiety and fear and we saw her walk through that in the book.

Secondly, a Christmas setting. I love Christmas. It was just such a warm and fuzzy holiday read.

Thirdly, the travelling to New York/staying in a hotel and all the pretty, sparkly, coolness totally reminded me of one of my favorite books as a kid ‘The Queen Mary Family’ by Enid Blyton. Which is basically about a family from the UK who travel to New York on a boat and as a kid I was struck by it because obviously I’d never done anything like that and it sounded awesome.

I demolished this book in under 24 hours. Buying it Friday evening and finishing around midday Saturday.

It is the perfect holiday read and I absolutely loved it.

Now I know there’s all this controversy about whether she had a ghost writer or not, and blah blah blah but at the end of the day, as a reader, I don’t care because Tom Clancy did too so whatever. At the end of the day someone wrote the book, and it was puffy and sweet and entirely satisfying.

You can grab a copy here:

Or here:

https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/Girl-Online/22694492

My Music!

Hi all,

So when I’m not writing stories, I also like to write music. I finally got around to putting it all together in one place so if you want to, totally check it out!

A lot is generally for church, but occasionally I like to do some other odds and ends.

Anyway! Enjoy

Also, FYI, over the weekend I read ‘Girl Online’ by Zoella AKA: Zoe Sugg. I’m going to be reviewing it in the next few days

There Are Cool Things In This World If You Look For Them

4leafYou know that feeling you get when you discover something awesome, and you’re like, ‘How did I not know about this before?’

I’m like that with cool stores, or the awesome jumpers or really great cheap brands that make really good nail polishes.

I was reflect on this today because I found this super awesome BBC Radio 2 Album (which of course I don’t know about living in New Zealand so forgive me if you know about it) and it’s a whole bunch of modern singers covering 80s music. This is significant because someone covers Romeo and Juliet which is by far the best Dire Straits song ever.

I had this realization recently.

If you’re willing to look, there are some really awesome, really beautiful things in this world.

I don’t know where it ever became a good idea to settle for the easy option. To settle with what initially comes to mind because you can’t be bothered or ‘don’t have time’ to dig deeper.

It’s kind of like that with writing. We’ll quickly select the first option which floats to the surface instead of taking the time to search out the exceptional.

I find myself super guilty of this at times, but was reminded again today that the world will only fail to surprise and excite us when we stop rising to the occasion. There are brilliant things to be written if you’re willing to search them out.

So my dad and I find a ridiculously large amount of four leaf clovers. We go for walks most evenings and no kidding I think we’ve found about fifty or sixty in the last 18 months. And even a couple of five and six leaf clovers too!

I was telling someone this once and they were completely astounded, convinced that I had found this bush that was clearly not a clover.

So I did what any sensible person would do. I Googled it. See finding a four leaf clover isn’t actually THAT unusual. Yes they’re uncommon but if you are willing to look, you’ll find them.

I think writing and coming up with ideas and just about anything in this world is like that. If you’re willing, you’ll find it.

Sometimes You Must Do Embarassing Things In The Name of Christmas

So it’s the First of December!

Keeping in mind that in New Zealand Christmas is sunny, and generally lacking in snow, and scarves and snowmen Christmas can seem like a total oxymoron.

We spray fake snow on windowpanes and trees, and I have this obsession of wearing HUGE Christmas jumpers I brought online from Marks and Spencer but generally with shorts because it’s boiling hot.

As a result of this, you have to be determined to be festive and implement your festive activities.

Now you need to know I am pretty intense when it comes to implementing my Christmas traditions. Santa Photos in embarrassing outfits and the like.

But last year my now fiancé and I recorded this music video for a Christmas song I wrote about how I am pretty much the best at doing everything Christmas related.

It’s pretty awesome but HUGELY embarrassing. Therefore obviously I need to share it with you.

Enjoy!

What Makes A Good Plot Twist

You know at the end of the last Indiana Jones film. Just as the film is headed up towards the climax and you’re about to see where the whole movie is been going and then suddenly aliens appear?

For me, this is the very best example of a poorly executed plot twist.

See I love Indiana Jones. I was all about the beating up Nazis, running away from large boulders and the like. It was awesome.

Then the final fifteen to ten minutes of the Crystal Skull happened and I was left thinking, uh… okay…

Plot twists. I love them. That super fun game of toying with your audience and making them think one thing when at the very last second your surprise them with something completely different? Love it.

Plot twists are really useful components to a memorable story.

In saying this, they can be difficult to implement.

So what is the difference between a genuinely awesome ‘WOW-I-Did-Not-See-That-Coming!’ and ‘Okay… Indiana Jones and Aliens? What the Heck?’

There are probably a million components. But there is one I think carries the most weight.

There is one component that I think really carves into people’s hearts and adds a real point of difference.

This is connectivity.

How connected is your plot twist to the concept of the story? What is the relationship? Identifying the relationship between the plot twist and what has unfolded before.

Often I see plot twists as making a bed. You don’t just put the blanket over the top you tuck it in. There’s a tuck in to the story. By this I mean that the thing that you’ve done to surprise your readers isn’t completely out of the blue. That there is a pattern to look back at. Threads between what happened in the end that surprised people, that connect back and make it seem IMPOSSIBLE that we didn’t see it before. It is then about showing little knots of this thread through your story through events that can be interpreted as one thing (what you WANT readers to see) and can also be interpreted as another (when readers REALLY see what happened)

It’s about connectivity.

Anyway, plot twists are a total favorite of mine. Also! Sorry I was noticeably absent from posting last week! I recently got engaged and my mind was in a million places and not one of these writing related! AliensIndianaJones

When It Is Less About The Content, Than It Is About The Order

So I’m working on this idea and I am totally stuck.

You know those times you approach a storyline and you just have like… no idea what you’re going to do at all?

This is not one of those times for me.

Instead of general ‘I-Don’t-Know-itus’ it is ANOTHER sort of difficulty I face.

I know what I want to do, just not the order I want to do it.

This is where I’m at. I’ve got all the ingredients, as in, I know components of the story that I want to see happen, the issue is that I am unsure in which order they need to come to create best impact.

Have you ever been here?

It’s like baking. You know those recipes you read and they have like SPECIFIC instructions which must be carried out in the order that you add the ingredients? If you don’t add what-ever-it-is to the Blah-blah-blah at that point then the batter will be too chalkey, too stiff, etc…?

Where I am at is exactly like that. I’ve got the things that go into the batter, but to make it taste good you have to organize it into the perfect sequence of events.

When I am in this situation I generally follow the following process:

1) Decide what is REALLY important?

By this I mean, decide what totally does need to be included in the story and whether it fits. With the story I am working on now (Dare) I was willing to write a whole nother book in the series (making it 4 books rather than 3) because I wanted to include a situation where at ‘Hero School’ they had a class on ‘Death of Significant Family Member’, because this happens to a lot of super heroes. Was that Idea worth writing a whole new book? Probably not.

2) If It’s NOT important scale it down.

So instead of writing a full book about Romulus going to super hero school, I decided there’s be a passing conversation about how at Super School there IS a class on this subject. If the idea isn’t super important, scale it back.

3) What would create the best emotional impact?

I look at the ideas I have an sequence them to ensure that I achieve the ideal emotional reaction I wanted. I look holistically at what I want readers to feel and regardless of what I want I order the story accordingly.

If you have any tips on how to sequence stories in the best possible way totally let me know because I’d super appreciate it. Anyway, I figured now was a good time to remind you that sometimes it’s not about HAVING the ideas, it’s about IMPLEMENTING them

The Gift of Experience

I had this total realization this weekend.

As authors, at the end of the day we are basically formulating an experience for people. We design this cast of characters, a variety of settings and them a jumble of things that occur that make an audience feel a specific way.

We are providing them with an experience when they read what we have written.

This weekend sort of made me see how much of a privilege that actually is.

So my mother and I went to Sydney for the weekend to visit my Aunt.

My Aunt is eighty-six I think, my dad’s half sister and a nun of the order of the Sacred Heart in Kensington NSW.

Anyway so we had to get to the air port at like… 4am (NZ time) and wait three hours before a three hour flight, arriving at 9ish (AUS time). I was exhausted. Regardless, my Aunty really, really wanted to take my mother and I to the Blue Mountains.

We left at about 11, and drove all the way out of Sydney to the Blue Mountains, it took like… two hours because we stopped at all kinds of places and made detours to see houses that my Aunt and her friend (also a nun) had stayed in.

Anyway it was super hot and the drive was long and we finally arrived at Echo Point (I think that’s the name) which is basically this amazing overlook to this expanse.

NZ isn’t really that big… so for me it was just so amazing to see something so HUGE that went on and on. My Aunt pointed out various places and explained how here she didn’t have to ‘say formal prayers,’ because she just felt God there.

She also explained how my half uncle (her brother) had passed away in the Blue Mountains, a blue baby who died at eight as a result of there being little they could do for him at that time.

It was actually so beautiful and as long as the trip was it was super worth it.

Then there was this immense drive home with traffic and we eventually got back to the convent at about 6pm (AUS time)

I was exhausted.

But something really struck me on the way home as we were trapped in the Australian gridlock and that was this idea of gifting experiences to people.

‘I really wanted you to have this experience.’ My Aunt told my mother and I.

HAVE this experience. How awesome is that? We can gift people experiences. Things they will remember their whole lives? I just think that is so breathtaking and so so relevant to us as writers with our audiences.

We take something special to us, and we can show or communicate it to someone else because we want them to have it to.

Isn’t that at the end of the day what we writers do?convent7