Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Category: Musings (Page 3 of 3)

For the random thoughts in my head – anything from music to science to who knows what!

Achievement or Not?

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been quite sick for a while now. Actually, wait a moment, that’s not quite the start of this story, let’s rewind to when I was pregnant. Instead of the modest 7-19kg that is healthy to gain whilst pregnant, I put on 38 kilos (yup, THAT much). Obviously that took me up a few clothing sizes. In the time since giving birth I have lost a sizable chunk of that weight (25kilos actually) but those last 13 kgs were stubbornly remaining on me. Naturally this meant all my old clothes stayed up in boxes at the top of the closet ignored for a couple of years now.

Back to the present now. Recently I was irritated by the fact that all my current jeans are falling off my hips and decided to try a pair of my old jeans on and – huzzah! – I’m able to fit in my old pre-pregnancy jeans.

Naturally I’m delighted to be able to pull those boxes down from the top shelf and put some old faves back on and I’m ecstatic to be almost back in my old body (still got a stubborn 4kg to go, but really not that fussed by them), however it doesn’t feel like an achievement because I did nothing but convalesce on my sick bed.

Now I’m not saying I’m not glad with the results, I’m just curious as to whether I should define this as an achievement or is it just something that happened?

When You Get a Song Stuck In Your Head – For Two Decades

In Third Grade we had an awesome teacher (90% sure her name was Miss Hume, I remember her short, curly, dark hair and tall, thin frame far more vividly than her name, but I always was dreadful with names – and still am) who had spent the previous few years teaching in Indonesia. She passed on quite a bit of the Indonesian language to us in class throughout the day. She also taught the older grades as well so we learned more and more. By the time I graduated primary school and reached high school I knew so much Indonesian that when they tried to teach us (it was one of the mandatory language classes for the first two years of high school) I was a whole year ahead of the rest of the class.

While the vast majority of what I learned all those years ago has been lost in the recesses of my memory there is one thing that has stayed with me for almost two decades: A song about chickens.

The tune and the repetitive lyrics have stuck in my head for two decades.

Several times in the past I’ve tried to track down the song, failing miserably due to uncertainty as to both the spelling of the lyrics and the accuracy of my memory of said lyrics. Finally – driven mad by a need to prove this song exists to my husband – I found a YouTube video.

or if you want to know the lyrics

For the tender of heart don’t try to translate the lyrics, if memory serves things don’t end well for the chickens – yet it’s a song traditionally sung by children (or you’d hope so since I was taught it when I was nine years old).

Have you had a song plague you as long as this one has plagued me?

Those Crazy, Hazy Days

I had planned today to post my review of Jane and the Dragon. However I was quite distracted by a Facebook message from a friend who has recently become a new mum. She was asking for help because she wasn’t sure her tiny new son was getting enough sleep. She also worried that she was creating a terrible dependency by not teaching him to self-soothe yet – at the tender age of six weeks.

I had almost forgotten what those early months were like. Between the immense lack of sleep and the thousand different things books/people/the internet/your conscience tells you that you should be doing you lose all self-confidence.

It’s a brave new world, motherhood, and no amount of books or babysitting prepares you for when it is your child cuddling up to your chest, so tiny in your hands you can’t believe he took up so much space in your belly. You may have a clever friend or family member who is wise enough to tell you to trust yourself and do what feels right, but listening to them and not the plethora of information around you is harder said than done.

While all that information can be important, you will find no end to conflicting advice if you read enough. This is where that trust comes in. Trust in yourself. Don’t put your baby in a cot in another room if that doesn’t feel right to you. Don’t put your baby in your own bed with you if it doesn’t feel right to you. Both sleeping options are perfectly fine(as long as you follow precautions such as safety guidelines and SIDs prevention tips) and I assure you neither will affect the likelihood of your child growing up to be a psychopath (never did the research for this sorry, but I’m pretty damn sure). Some studies will tell you your child will gain independence better if he sleeps in another room, some other studies will tell you he will grow up and be more faithful to future partners if he co-sleeps (I kid you not, I saw research which claimed to prove this). Research can be skewed by the opinions of the gatherers all too easily.

You can probably guess I hail from the parenting school of ‘do what works for your family’. As long as you follow safety guidelines, the advice to prevent SIDs and common sense then I see no reason to do something that doesn’t feel right for your family. If asked I give advice but I will never be offended if the receiver doesn’t follow it. Just because something works for Xander and I does not mean it will work for my friend and her child. She is not a clone of me and her son is not a carbon copy of Xander, thus what worked for us may not be so efficacious for them.

All I can hope is that every new mother can find faith in herself and look forward to a long and beautiful life with their new children.

Note: I used ‘he’ throughout this post only because I have a son, feel free to imagine it a ‘she’ if you prefer, my advice is not gender exclusive. Do also focus on the fact I say “As long as you follow safety guidelines, the advice to prevent SIDs and common sense” I’m not advising anyone throw out safety! Though I would hope no one would feel something was right if it were dangerous I do recall those early days to be crazy and hazy at times.

Flags and Non-Fiction

Fluro Quilled Echidna

I love reading non-fiction. It feels like I’m resetting my brain. Every second page gives me an idea ranging anywhere from just a little thing I can slip into one of my stories to create some authenticity to entire stories that revolve around that one thing.

Whenever I read a book I know is going to spark my creative fires I keep a stack of post-it note flags beside me. Post it note flags let me quickly write the title (or working title) of the story the idea will most likely go in and a little bit about the idea in case it leaks out of my brain in the flood of other ideas. Of course the problem is some of my non-fiction books end up looking like a fluro quilled echidna, case in point pictured here, and I’m only about half way through.

I also like to read non-fiction just to learn new things. Fiction makes me marvel and question and ponder more philosophical things usually, but non-fiction tends to teach me and inspire in a different way.

I read to be inspired, regardless of fiction or non-fiction labels. How about you?

Light It Up Blue

Today is my birthday, but more importantly than bragging about my milestone birthday, today is Autism Acceptance Day. Please head over to Light It Up Blue the Autism Acceptance Day website to find out what landmarks are being lit up blue to support autism acceptance and make a donation to support them.

Here in Brissy they’re lighting up the Wheel of Brisbane (not to be mistaken with the Wheel of Time, it’s only our Ferris Wheel), City Hall, King George Square and the William Jolly Bridge. They are even planning to project artworks by a Tim Sharp, an autistic artist, on the William Jolly Bridge.

I follow a few blogs that relate to autism. My favourites are Autistic Hoya – which teaches me something new with nearly every post(including that many prefer ‘acceptance’ to ‘awareness’), Stuff With Thing by the mother of autistic children and Gabrielle Bryden’s blog is where I learned about Autism Acceptance Day.

If you are a fan of comics or manga there is no way I can possibly recommend ‘With The Light’ enough. It is a touching manga released by Yen press about a young Japanese woman who achieves her dream of marrying the office hottie and plans to become his adoring housewife as per Japanese tradition. She comes across a small snag when she notices there is something wrong with their baby Hikaru (his name means Light). She discovers Hikaru is autistic and the many volumes follow Hikaru as he grows up, goes to school all while he and his family learn how to deal with family and strangers who do not understand. It’s heart breaking and touching all at once and is easily one of my favourite manga of all time. Sadly Keiko Tobe, the manga-ka (author/artist) passed away before completing the series but don’t let that stop you from reading it!

I hope everyone will support Autism Acceptance Day but heading over to Light It Up Blue (note my website is blue ;p) and donate or buy some merchandise.

Now I’ve filled your browser with about thirty new tabs, Happy Autism Acceptance Day everyone (and happy 30th birthday me).

Layouts and Tamora Pierce

Layouts and Tamora Pierce

I just found out that my new layout doesn’t allow people on mobile devices to comment. Argh! It took me so long to find and tinker with this one… now I have to seek out another one! Maybe I can light it up blue for Autism Awareness day which falls on my birthday.

On a cheerier note I have recently started re-reading Tamora Pierce’s first quartet: The Song of the Lioness. It brings back memories of my early teen years and even as an adult the stories do not disappoint (if you want to read my reviews, click over to my Goodreads account, there’s a widget in my sidebar).

I came across her books by chance. I don’t know if schools still do this, but in my primary school (elementary school for the non-Australians who might be confused) used to hand out four page catalogues of books once a month and you could order from them. I think they were called the Scholastic Book Club (after the publisher) but my memory isn’t as strong on that. I saw ‘In the Hand of the Goddess’ and even though the only fantasy I had read at that age was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (yes, I tackled that monster of a book at the tender age of ten), I saw the black cat with purple eyes on the cover and wanted it. Of course when I got it I found out it was book two in a series so it was dumped on my shelf until a time when I could track down book one.

I did eventually find book one, but it was almost a year later. Not that that stopped me from reading both of them as fast as I could and pestering my parents for weeks for the next books.

With this re-reading what fascinates me is that even though I know what is going to happen I am still moved – sometimes even to tears – and for something to be that strong I feel it deserves a special place in my heart indeed.

I am fairly certain Pierce is to blame for the fact that the vast majority of my protagonists are strong females. In fact even books where my protagonist is a male, he is usually infatuated with or somehow guided by a strong female character. Pierce writes women who are strong and smart, who speak their minds but have believable fears and character flaws. If there is any writer out there I want to be like it would be her (though of course I would still prefer to be me 😀 ).

It is hard to pick a favourite of her works, they are all marvellous, but I think it is Daine from the Immortals quartet with whom I connect with best – even if it is mostly over sharing the nightmare of unruly hair.

Who’s your favourite author? What do you love about their works?


I originally planned to make my own design for my website but – as I mentioned in my earlier post busy few weeks – I was given no choice but to start my website a month earlier than planned or miss out on an opportunity to pay a lot less for my hosting, so I ended up choosing this cute theme for now.

To be honest I hadn’t even thought about what my design would look like, so when the site went up I was left clawing my brain for ideas. I remembered on a trip into the city with a good friend going to Eckersley’s art and craft store and seeing some lovely chiyogami (fancy origami paper which is usally silk screen painted featuring a repeated pattern, also known as yuzen for the dyeing style used) featuring goldfish. Being a japanophile I wanted to buy them at the time, but couldn’t justify buying the paper, no matter how beautiful the image without having an actual use. Now I have the perfect one!

I plan to use the goldfish pattern for my background and am thinking a maneki-neko in the header perhaps, but I’ll need to play around with it before I put anything up online.

In regards to the pattern I chose I always used to be obsessed with cherry blossoms, I still am, but my interests have broadened. While I was in Japan I saw a beautiful kimono with a goldfish pattern. For some foolish reason I didn’t buy it and I regret that decision rather frequently. Ever since then I’ve been a bit nutty about goldfish patterns. I’m even considering using the pattern on my business cards.

It’s interesting how a regret can create a passion like that… Do you have any similar stories? Oh and keep an eye out for my new design (but don’t hold your breath).

Smells Just As Sweet

So why Storybook Perfect for my blog name you ask?

The answer is bizarrely simple. My first novel (the completed manuscript you will hear me talk about almost without cease) is titled Storybook Perfect, and when you aren’t quite confident enough to use your own name for a domain, you need to figure out something else.

It was on my husband’s suggestion I used the novel’s name for the website. I like how it promotes my first completed manuscript but also sounds like the sort of blog a writer of fantasy would run.

The novel’s title itself is a nod to the fact that at the start of the novel the main character, Yui, regularly laughs at herself for expecting life to work out perfectly just because it seems like the world she has found herself in is like out of a story. Later, she and her companions have a chance to see they actually could have endured a great deal more than they did and, in a manner of speaking, they did have the golden ticket after all.

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