Posts filed under ‘Blog’

When the time is write

Last year was a good year for writing, but I plan to make 2012 even better. In order to find more time for writing around working full time, looking after the house and animals and spending time with my brand new husband, I have put together a few tools as part of my new, overall organisation system.

Okay, even with a shiny new calendar on my wall I forget what day it is, but these things take time, and I am taking baby steps towards making the most out of the time I have!

1. To do lists

I am a chronic list maker, so having this notebook helps me keep everything together – because there’s nothing worse than losing your to do list! This isn’t just for writing, but it helps me stay on track to get everything done, which means I don’t feel guilty about taking time out to sit down and write blog posts or work on stories.

This notebook is from Kikki.k – I actually bought it with the gift certificate I was given as a farewell from my previous job (along with a receipt folder for tax claims, which should make my tax accountant – also known as my father in law – very happy. Yay organisation!)

2. Diary
I know the focus of this post is tools to help me write, but the fact is no one part of life occurs in a vacuum. Everything is affected by everything else, so part of making time to write is taking control of the rest of my time.
This diary is another Kikki.k find, which I love. It has columns for each day, rather than boxes, which suits my list-loving nature. I cannot tell you how many years I have looked for a diary like this! Seriously, I’m picky when it comes to diaries.
Having a good diary helps me keep track of what’s happening when, so much like the to do lists I’m able to keep the rest of my life organised and fit in time to write around everything else.

3. My notebook

I love a good notebook! While I tend to work in a variety of ways (my computer, my laptop, I actually wrote my wedding vows directly onto my iPhone), I will always be a pen-and-paper girl at heart. I spend ages picking out the perfect notebook – it has to be A5 so I can carry it around in my handbag, spiral bound so I can fold it around if I’m writing in a tight space. and it has to be cute so that I enjoy using it.

I found this one at Big W – I was actually really surprised at their wide range of pretty stationery! I will definitely be hitting them up for supplies in the future.

This notebook is where a lot of my stories start, and some of them even finish there! I sometimes edit things when I type them up, but more often than not they stay much the same.

4. Time planner

This colourful time planner was created by the lovely Jen at iheartOrganizing, which comes with a lovely inspirational quote from Benjamin Disraeli – “He who gains time gains everything”.

Using this planner I was able to schedule out my weekdays (weekends are a schedule-free zone!). I start work at 6am (yes, really!) but fortunately I work from home so I only have to get up at 5.30! Generally I’m done with work between 2.30 and 3pm, and I don’t go to bed until 9.30pm.

So realistically, I have a whole 7 HOURS after work to get things done. Even with some housework, cooking dinner, taking the dogs out for a walk and other such things I should be able to fit some writing into that time!

You can find this document as  agree printable here. You should also check out Jen’s blog, because it is chock full of amazing ideas and inspiration.

5. Jotter pad

In order to make my writing time more focused I purchased a jotter pad from The Reject Shop, it was about $4 from memory. I’m planning to cover it with something pretty, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. It’s on my to do list! 😉

The jotter will follow me around, and is a place that I can use when I start getting distracted by thoughts and ideas. This notepad will be purely for writing ideas, whereas other notebooks tend to become mixed up with a bit of everthing. This way, if I’m sitting down to write I can look back and draw inspiration from those notes.

6. Okay, there’s not a sixth item in the picture, and I haven’t actually used this yet, but I love the look of it and I think it’s just what I’ve been looking for. These daily planning pages from The Complete Guide To Imperfect Homemaking (number 1 in the post) have spaces for planning dinner and blog posts, as well as a general to do list.

Find the post with the printable here, and also check out the blog – it’s another of my (many) favourites!

I’ve already downloaded the page and will be printing it off to start using this week. I’ll let you know how it goes!

So now it’s your turn – what tools do you love for getting organised? How/when/where do you find time to do the things you love?

xox Chrissie

February 5, 2012 at 11:16 am 2 comments

Merry Christmas!

Giving Santa a hand

It’s almost Christmas, and exactly one year since I started this blog! I have lots of big plans for next year, which I will fill you all in on in the new year. Let’s just say that things should get exciting around here!

But for now, let’s take a look back at the year that was.

The numbers

In the year that I have been blogging, I have had:

45 blogs (this is the 46th)

11 stories (including 3 poems)

35 comments

Not too shabby, but I will definitely be looking to improve all of those numbers next year!

The lessons

Things I have learned in my year of blogging:

I love blogging! It’s fun, and it challenges me to come up with new subjects and story ideas and to post regularly

I am really bad at remembering to tag and categorise blog posts. I had to go through and fix a bunch of uncategorized ones just so I could find stories and things  for the links below.

I need to make more time for writing. This is pretty obvious – I think no matter how much writing I do I can always do more!

The goals

Here are a few of my goals for 2012:

Blog more! Write more stories!

Publish stories for sale (more on this in the new year – exciting!)

Revamp website (all I have to do is figure out how!)

Let’s see how far we’ve come

Ah Rob Thomas – you never let me down. So now that I’ve brushed over some of the facts and figures behind blogging, let’s take a look at where it all began.

My first blog post, from December 24, 2010, was a basic introduction to me and my work – read it here. More exciting is my first story ever posted – Rainbow meets the Grumble Fairy, also posted on December 24. You can read that work of art (*cough*) here.

If you’re interested in how/why I came to start this blog you can read all about it in my 6-monthiversary (it’s a real word! … now…) post here, and some insight into why I blog here.

As for how I came to give my blog the name Squeaky Shoe Stories, I tell the story of that here (a hint: it involves a really cute little girl, a duck statue and a pair of squeaky shoes).

And that concludes the Concise History of Squeaky Shoe Stories! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glance back through the past year. I know I have!

So thank you to all my readers, whether you’ve read every blog or just dropped in once or twice. This past year has been a huge learning curve for me, and I look forward to continuing with this little blog of mine in 2012.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

xoxox Chrissie

December 24, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Grieving

If you read last week’s not-really-a-blog blog, you’ll know that I was spending the weekend in Brisbane to say what was likely to be a final farewell to my Uncle Joe.

He passed peacefully, with his family around him, yesterday.

It was the best that could be hoped for him. He was not in any pain, and to continue living completely bedridden and reliant on others for everything just doesn’t do justice to the person he was.

I am pleased to say that despite his state, he did wake up a couple of times while I was there, he recognised me and was able to talk for a few minutes. He knew I was there and he was grateful.

I was grateful too. It wasn’t easy making the decision to go, not knowing whether he would make it that far, or whether to wait to attend a funeral.

But I am so glad I made the choice I did, and was able to spend a few more precious moments with him before he left us.

Grief is hard, there is no denying that, but it is also a reminder of how precious life is, and how important it is to live while you are here. Whether living for you means jumping out of planes, or spending an afternoon curled up with a book,  having big parties or just spending some quiet time with a few close friends, make time to do them.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who have shown their support over these past few weeks, it has made such a difference.

Right now I’m not okay, but I promise I will be.

I will be back next week with a very special story to share with you all.

xx Chrissie

 

December 11, 2011 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

No blog this weekend

Just a brief note this week to say that I won’t be able to post as per normal this weekend. I am currently in Brisbane to say goodbye to my uncle, who recently took a turn for the worse. Things were up and down for the past few weeks, but this week rapidly progressed from “maybe you can come over in a few weeks to see him while he’s still okay” to “come over now or you may be too late”.

This is my mum’s only brother, and our last real tie to her family, since she, Uncle Joe and their parents came here as refugees after World War II. This is obviously a tough time for all of us – especially mum and Uncle Joe’s wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

I am staying strong for the moment, and will be spending as much time with my family as possible this weekend, since I won’t be able to stay any longer.

Love to you all, and thank you for reading,

xx Chrissie

December 3, 2011 at 7:03 am Leave a comment

What is made from straw, has a carrot nose and is feared by large black birds?

A scarecrow, of course! And yesterday I had the opportunity to meet the amazing Matthew Reilly, author of the Scarecrow series among others. Now, I am (allegedly) a children’s writer, so I feel the need to stress here – these are probably not books you want to read to your children. Unless they’re in high school… preferably upper high school.

But for adults, these books are amazing. Seriously, they’ve been described as action films in book form (but unlike many action films, these have plots!). They are gripping and addictive, and all of the research that Matthew puts into these books really comes through.

I love them for a bit of wild escapism, because let’s face it – the closest my life has come to an action movie was rushing my dog to the vet when she started sneezing blood and subsequently cleaning blood out of the car (that part was more like a crime show).

I was SO EXCITED to have the chance to meet one Australia’s best authors and even get his new book in the Scarecrow series, Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, signed. He wrote my name!!!

Now that I’ve gotten that fangirl moment out of the way, meeting Matthew was really cool – he is absolutely delightful. We had a chat about George R R Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series (I just finished A Storm of Swords and he’s reading A Game of Thrones) and he talked about Martin’s talent for following so many stories and characters all at once. That’s another great series for adults, by the way.

I could have stayed and chatted to him for hours (actually, I could talk to anyone about books and reading and writing for hours), but I felt bad for the people in line behind me, so I took my (signed! with my name!) book and wondered off to do some other shopping.

Oh, and not only is Matthew Reilly a super talented writer and really nice guy, he’s also good looking! Want to see? Well, here is a photo of the two of us together. Yep, that’s right, I GOT MY PHOTO TAKEN WITH MATTHEW REILLY!!

So, what did I get out of meeting The Man, The Legend himself?

Book signings ROCK!

While book signings d0 look like hard work (especially for your wrists), they also look like a lot of fun! How good must it feel to meet such a range of people who are all brought together by a love of the books that you have created?

Bring a snack

Those lines can be LONG, and as someone who gets hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) eating regularly is important. I had a late breakfast, so was not even thinking about the fact that the signing started at 11, and could possibly run into lunchtime. Mistake #1.

When I got there I felt a little low, but was so excited to queue up I didn’t want to wait any longer… until I saw the length of the line. I decided to visit the nearest cafe and grab something to keep me going. They didn’t have any low GI, easy to eat while standing up juggling a large book, a handbag and my phone (so I could tweet my excitement), so I grabbed a blueberry muffin and vanilla latte. Mistake #2.

That snack got me through the meeting with Matthew (I put the shaking hands down to pure excitement) but after that I crashed badly enough that I had to get dad to pick me up because I didn’t trust myself to drive. He fed me and let me rest a while and then we came back for the car.

Still, if I hadn’t had someone close by who was available to get me, that could have been scary, and not in the “hey look, is that a scarecrow in that field?” way, but more of a “Oh no, I made the Scarecrow mad and now he and his super-tough team are out to get me” way.

So seriously, bring a trail bar or something (preferably nut-free, since anaphylaxis is a very real issue and you don’t want to risk making another fan sick – that’s not a great way to make a first impression) to keep you going. Even without health issues it’s a good idea.

Organisation is key

From an author’s perspective, organisation makes things run a lot smoother. A young lady (yes, I feel like a grandma writing that) from Dymocks, which was hosting the signing, came down the line writing down the attributions people wanted on post-its and sticking them in the correct page. That eliminated any issues with oddly spelled names, which not only made his life easier (can you imagine if he’d written Chrissy instead of Chrissie? I might have cried…) but also means less time spelling names and more time chatting!

The extras count

A couple of people (I think Dymocks staff, although they could have been part of Matthew’s entourage) were dressed up as characters out of his book, complete with plastic weaponry.

The signing table itself was set up in front of some army netting stuff (that’s the technical term) hanging from the outside wall of the shop, and there was a funky looking military machine-type whodacky (again, technical terminology here – try to keep up!) which I failed to take a photo of – I was too excited to see Matthew! Those little touches were really cool and made the whole thing feel more personal than just a table and chair.

Photos are awesome

They just are. I was there by myself since my Matt was at work, but the lovely lady accompanying Matthew and overseeing the signings was happy to take a photo of us together.

Sorry, I have to show off one more time. This is me… WITH MATTHEW REILLY!

November 27, 2011 at 8:00 am 7 comments

Night writer

Just like Knight Rider, only nerdy.

You can't hassle The Hoff

As you may know, I started a new job (if you don’t know and would like to, you can find out more here) just over a month ago. I like my new job – it’s a new challenge, I’m learning a lot and writing in a whole new style. It’s great!

However, one teeny tiny, miniscule downside is that I start work early. Like, 6am early. On the surface, this is not a bad thing – I work from home, so it’s not like I have a long commute to get there, and starting early also means finishing early, which gives me more time in the afternoons. Yay time!

The only one tiny, miniscule downside to that is that I am a night person. I would turn nocturnal if I could (and in fact, if my own writing career takes off I may indeed do just that).

These days I can manage to function decently well in the morning (as opposed to the zombie mornings of years past), but I hit my stride in the late afternoon/evening… just in time to get a few things done before bed.

Of course, this isn’t exactly new – the need to hold down a day job in order to do all those nice things like pay the mortgage and eat means I have had to operate in a morning person’s world for some time now.

However, now that I need to be in bed by about 9.30pm, I’m finding I really miss the days of staying up all night, scrawling away in my notebook, or lying awake in the dark writing whatever comes into my head (and then trying to decipher it the next day.

I have plenty of ideas still, they come at any time of day, but finding the inspiration seems harder during the day. There’s something about the peace and darkness at night that help to leave room for ideas to flow.

So my challenge now is to force myself to find time during the day, shut out distractions and write, even if I don’t feel like it.

Do any other writers have that issue? Anyone find ways to balance day job with writing without staying up all night?

xx Chrissie

ps – anyone who’s suffered from writer’s block (and even people who haven’t) should check out this hilarious cartoon on Peas & Cougars: Coming to a Writer’s Block. It’s good for a giggle =)

Image sourced from http://www.digital-polyphony.com/25knightrider.htm.

November 13, 2011 at 10:03 am 2 comments

I’m a poet and I knew it!

This is my thinking face!

… wait…

Okay, so poetry is not my strong point. In fact, The Irrelephant, posted last weekend, was my first real attempt at poetry in… well, pretty much forever (not counting those that I was forced to write on rare occasions in school).

So what possessed me, a hardcore Proser, to try my unskilled hand at a poem?

Well, the Irrelephant was a character who wondered in to my head several months ago. I loved him straight away, but when I tried to write a story featuring him, it just didn’t work.

After a few attempts, and a long time thinking about how I could capture him the way he deserved, I actually forgot all about the Irrelephant and moved on to other things (like not finishing The Whoopsie Daisy… oops!).

Then, a couple of weeks ago after attempting to help a friend who had bogged her car on her way to visit (hi Grace!!), I started thinking about something (I have no idea what now) that was irrelevant. And there he was, my beloved Irrelephant, just begging to be written about.

I couldn’t bear to ignore him any longer, so I put my mind to figuring out how I could bring him to life. The idea of a poem started to form, something that would capture the lighthearted fun of the Pelican limerick (more here) while telling a story.

I drew inspiration from both The Pelican and from work by Roald Dahl (who, as I have shared before, is one of my heroes), but tried to put my own spin on it.

The poem itself started forming in my mind while I was washing dishes. It’s funny how mundane tasks like that lend themselves so well to creativity. Perhaps that’s a sign that I should clean more… or not.

By the time I was getting close to finishing the dishes, sentences were rolling through my head, making me laugh out loud. I was so eager to start I almost left the last few things and ran to my computer, but I resisted the urge.

One particular stanza that I thought up while cleaning really grabbed me, so I used that as my starting point to shape the rest of the poem… and then ended up scrapping it in the final stages, when I realised it just didn’t gel.

I must admit, writing the poem was a painful process for me, and the whole time I felt like a fraud. Bad poetry can assault the eyes and ears, and I was truly terrified that that was exactly what I was creating.

Still, this morning, a week after starting the actual writing process, I wrote the last stanza (which had me stumped all week) and did my final cut and clean up. I posted it to the website, and then hesitantly announced it on Facebook and Twitter (the post on the official Squeaky Shoe Stories Facebook page even said “Be kind…”. Yeah, I was scared!).

My biggest hope was that even if people didn’t like it, they at least wouldn’t hate it enough to tell me about it! I’m usually prepared for criticisms, but for something I really haven’t done before that I thought I would be pretty useless at, I felt a little vulnerable.

But, to my surprise and delight, people actually seemed to like it! Crazy, right? I spent so much time worrying that I had done a horrible job and everyone would hate it, and I’m sure there are people out there who wouldn’t enjoy it, but some people did! They even enjoyed it enough to tell me about it!

I have to say, that is a very good feeling.

I’m so glad I bit the bullet and posted that poem, just to know that I can do it and it won’t necessarily be as terrible as I thought (although I can’t vouch for any future ones I write).

Sometimes fears about our own inadequacies can hold us back from putting ourselves out there for criticism, but the fact is there will always be people who like what you do as well as the people who don’t, so don’t let that hold you back from doing something that’s important to you.

It’s your life to live, so live it for you – whatever that means.

How about you guys? Any epiphanies this week? Any budding poets bursting to share? Any limericks about yours truly? (If so, please share – it would make my day to star in my very own limerick!)

xx Chrissie

ps. This week also saw the debut of a new blog, In the Reading Chair, over at SuperLiving.com.au. This post focuses on my thoughts about e-books versus traditional books. You can find that post right here =)

October 29, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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