Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Limbo

Something that kept me busy during a lunch break when I was at loose ends.
 

Friday, 17 October 2014

#TheRegulars


The process of writing a book is a personal one. I've never met two writers whose processes are alike, but I have met enough to know that the above image would resonate with many. Our self-confidence fluctuates, our enthusiasm wilts then revives. It's a see-saw, a swing, a frikkin' roundabout of emotions that range from energising to debilitating.

At the time of this blog post, I am within two pages of finishing a novella due for release in early 2015. When I first started writing Driftwood Summer (working title), I was unstoppable. I missed meals. I jabbered about these characters like they were best friends. Now, I'm self-shaming myself into finishing, because my mind's already moved on to new characters. Better friends.

It's often this way for me. I need to knock out the ending fast, or I lose momentum and get cranky. Watch me, by the end of today I'll have written 'The End' and completely forgotten the struggle to get there. "It was a joy!" I'll crow. Yeah, right. Pass the chocolate.

I am also two days into a new project (I know, bad writer!), and utterly overwhelmed with the possibility of it. It's unlike anything I've ever done before, and it took stumbling across the above image for me to realise I want to map its journey from inception to completion. If it's ever truly complete, that is.

See? Unless anything I've ever done before. It has no visible end.

So, I'm marking the moment. I'm about to pop over to Twitter and post my first new project update. The hashtag #theregulars will feature in every update, and in time - at a significant milestone - I'll use it to track my progress, both in words written, and mood.

I'm keeping myself accountable by writing in a day-to-a-page diary. I'm loving the practice of it so far, because one page isn't overwhelming on the days when I'm not sparking, and one page is teasing on the days when I am. I don't run over on to the next page, but wait, impatient for the next day. The diary is dragging me forward, and with me, undeniable progress.

I've got to say, there's also something nostalgic and boundless about handwriting an excerpt. Away from the internet and the internal editor, connected with the friction on the page and the liquid sweep of the pen. I don't hand write enough. I'm typically too impatient for it because I'm such a fast typer, but this exercise is getting me back to that. It's slowing me down, which in this instance, is a good thing.

Each day's writing does not have to be connected to the day before. It can be a new scene, a new excerpt. It can be set wherever and about whatever is resonating with me at the time. This reduces further pressure. It doesn't even have to be about The Regulars, even though that's what I'll be tracking.

Being a typically chronological writer, I'm broadening my skillset and challenging myself to follow my inspiration, however disconnected it may be.

In conclusion, for those of you who are interested in following a writer's process - through the mire of every emotion imaginable - I welcome you on board.

If you don't have Twitter, I'll be regularly posting the #theregulars feed on my website, so you can follow it there.

For those of you who followed my recent holiday posts, apologies, I'm home, and my nose is back to the grindstone. In good news, though, if you enjoyed all the mischief and madness of my trip, stay tuned. Many of my experiences will be making their way into books for you to enjoy in the not too distant future!

Until next time.

Elise


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Donkeys, squids and lava stones

Today is the last full day of my Greek Island Hopping tour; after breakfast tomorrow, I’m done with all my tours and will be making my own way for the next few months.

I’ve been to Greece before – it captured my imagination and for seven years I wasn’t able to still the rattle in my heart – the piece of Greece I’d brought home with me last time. So I returned to Athens – gave the city way too much of my time – then escaped to the islands.

Mykonos was brilliant, and I loved it all over again. I got lost in the back streets of town, watched a bride walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams, and unwound. Being an early bird, I got one of the famous beaches to myself one morning, which was a highlight. I also stimulated the local economy with some enthusiastic shopping.

Paros, an island I knew nothing about prior to arriving, surprised me with its creativity and intimacy. The jewellery makers on Paros are so gifted, I defy anyone to leave the island without a new trinket. Paros had the same narrow, white-walled cobblestone streets of Mykonos, and yet it had a fraction of the tourists and an abundance of charm. I went to a fishing village where squid were drying in the sun, trawlers were lurching against the sea walls, and nets were unrolled on footpaths, and I loved it.

Highly recommended.

The third and final island on my hopping tour was Santorini.

Oh, Santorini.

It’s as good as people say. It’s better than they describe. It’s something else entirely.

White buildings cling to kilometres of cliffs. The roof of one building is the floor of another. Streets of glamorous clothes, glittering jewellery and all manner of souvenirs make for a dazzling walk about town. Thousands gather for the sunset each night, as we did, and a short boat ride away, a volcano waits.

This, we climbed. I dragged my bung foot up to the crater, toes be damned, and later swam through thermal spring water to a mud bath. The group isn’t entirely sure we weren’t duped, and that the mud had no beneficial properties at all, but either way, excellent photos were born. Following this, we conquered the cliffs on donkeys, and had a brilliant night out in town.

In all, the tour has been fantastic. Brilliant people, awesome locations, and more rattles in my heart. 

Now I’m bound for Athens, looking back on photos and making big decisions about what comes next. 

In the immediate future, London. 

Beyond that, stay tuned.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Small Town Storm, CLUE Award Winner!

I am beside myself excited to share that Small Town Storm came first in the Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media CLUE Awards for Thriller, Mystery, & Suspense Fiction! 

It went through *seven* rounds of judging, isn't that extraordinary?

I'm so, so thrilled and flattered. Thank you, Chanticleer, the contest coordinators, and the judges - you've put the hugest smile on my face.

The CLUE Awards First in Category Winners


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Broken bones, nights under the stars, and fear eyes

I’ve spent the last week cruising the Mediterranean on a gorgeous gulet boat with a group of people I will never forget. I had been nervous for months about who I would be contained to a boat with, but I got to travel with some truly brilliant people. One in particular became a fast friend, and another really made the trip shine.

The days were as lazy as you might imagine – sun, swimming and sleep, with the occasional shift in order. Me, I was the oddity cheerfully writing on my laptop when others were dozing or reading. Apparently it takes more than eight days for me to wilfully do little to nothing. Still bent on ‘how can I make the most of this time’, it seems.

That being said, I’ve got the skeleton of what I hope will be a cracker of a book. Boat politics, drama, and of course, romance.

I went scuba diving. And sucked at it. Throw me into the sky from 2,000 metres, sure, let’s do this – but put me in a suit that covers everything but my face (then cover my face with something else), weigh me down under water and insist I breath through a Darth Vader mouthpiece? Get stuffed.

I went through with it. All my photos have fear-eyes, but I ticked the experience box. I insisted on two emergency surfaces and spent half the dive too freaked to turn my head, but I eventually enjoyed myself. After my instructor put a frikkin’ sea anemone on my hand – enjoyment was a while after that.

Those little buggers have squishy sucker feet, and it walked on me. Having had one of its friends bury a 6cm long barb in my toe which I couldn’t get out for three weeks, I was understandably uncomfortable with its proximity.

I’ve seen a sunken city. Lycian tombs. An old castle. I’ve snorkelled, leapt off the boat and accumulated more bruises than looks kosher. We’ve had a party nearly every night, and I’m managing about four hours of sleep a night. And on one of those nights, when I hadn’t even had a drink, I fell.
 
Spectacularly.

I broke three toes. My foot hit the side of the boat so hard it shattered one of my toenails, and the bruise on my back makes people lurch away from me, horrified. I ruptured some blood vessels. Ask me if you want photos - I don't want to force that picture on anyone. 

Now, think of what you’ve read so far. The exploring. The parties. The getting in and out of small boats to be shuttled to islands… add broken toes, and a constant rolling, lurching boat.

The glorious, constant pain. But what can you do?

Apparently you can use a naked lady stirring stick as a makeshift splint. No kidding. When I get back to port I’m going to get a raised eyebrow from a doctor, I’m sure – ha!

My parents were sympathetic and alarmed when I told them, but I have a tiny suspicion they weren’t too surprised. This kind of thing – a ridiculous injury or incident – happens too often to shock anymore, I think. Before I left for my trip I had a fight with a table and ended up with bruised ribs. I'm that kind of girl. I'm pretty sure the captain was keen to get me off the boat - every time I walked past him he shot out a hand and said, 'Be careful!'. Haha. 

It has been wonderful relaxing (in my own way), meeting amazing people, and getting a greater understanding of life on the ocean. The crew live and breathe it, and that kind of connection with something – that complex, deep magnetism – has resonated with me.

It’s been an entirely different pace from any other trip I’ve been on. And if I were to write a book about this last week that was more fact than fiction, it would have all the romance of the great love stories, all the upheavals of different personalities forced together, and a protagonist who just couldn’t stop smiling.

On to Athens next for four days of leisure and history. Then ten days in the Greek islands with sand, sun, and hopefully a legitimate splint.






Thursday, 29 May 2014

Going postal and channelling Mary Poppins

It’s 8:40am and thirty-one degrees; and because I’m wearing my heaviest things to avoid excess luggage fees, I am sweltering. The domestic departures building of Istanbul makes my muscles tense. There are constant alarms that no one seems to be attending to, the signage is easy to misunderstand, and there are people everywhere. Polis patrol the entrance with semi-automatics, the announcer’s voice is so thickly accented that whenever she speaks, I concentrate so hard my temple ticks. My second airport transfer confirms that my first driver was hopelessly lost – an hour lost, in fact. I did wonder why it took so long to get to the hotel! And yet I look around, and everything’s getting done. People are getting where they need to go, I have the right ticket, and soon I will have a gate number.

Maybe it’s just chaotic to my eyes.

My tour finished yesterday morning. A few of us met for a final breakfast together, goodbyes were said, then I was a solo traveller again.

I ran into a friend and went on a boat trip along the Bosporus Strait, seeing Istanbul from the water. I visited New Mosque, as beautiful as the Blue Mosque, but with five - yes, five - other people, not five thousand. I took on the Bazaar by myself and haggled like a pro (please note: I am anything but a haggling expert… it’s a long story), and ended up with the most beautiful, most breakable souvenir imaginable. It’s big, it’s cumbersome, and now it’s mine.

So I mailed it home. Which was an experience in itself.

This was my fourth attempt at a post office – the first to third encountered such cultural barriers that I left without success. This time I was ushered into a room that I swear I shouldn’t have been in. There were parcels stacked half-way to the ceiling. On trolleys, on the floor. On counter-tops and under arms. They only accepted cash payments.

I was starting to think I’d never see my stuff again.

Either way, it was taped up to within an inch of its life, stamped and stacked.

This all happened yesterday, and I am still thanking the inventor of bubble wrap.

I packed so much into yesterday, and was in the sun for so long, that I collapsed into bed at 5:00pm. Like an absolute rock star, am I right?

It turns out domestic flights within Turkey have a 15kg checked baggage allowance. This was alarming news, as I had 20kg when I left Australia. I have since bought things. But during a lunch break at a shopping complex the other day, I bought a Mary Poppins bag. It just keeps swallowing stuff, whilst looking near-empty. The thing’s magic, I tell you, and it opens flat!

So here I am, waiting at the airport for the next leg of my fabulous journey. Turkey’s not behind me yet – I’m off to Dalaman, then Fethiye, where I board a wooden gullet boat to cruise the Mediterranean bays and harbours.

I can’t seem to get enough sleep. All this sun’s wiping me out and adrenaline’s only getting me so far, so I can hardly wait for my next tour – a little over a week of relaxing, something I’ve only recently reacquainted myself with.


Bring it on, I say. I’m ready for my biggest worries to be charging my camera and reapplying my sunscreen.