(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We Are Very Amused at Our Bling.

I am in the midst of costume fever – the mad rush to finish (and start) planned costumes for an upcoming convention.  (If I get desperate, I can always wear an old one). It usually begins with:

Oh my! Is it only ‘x’ weeks til the convention?”

Yes, there is only five weeks til Comic Con. I have not even started to make patterns for my outfits. Due to financial restrictions, we have had to limit attendance to only one day (sigh!). But rejoice – this means only one new costume. 

Regulars will have seen some of the costumes on my wishlist for this year: Costuming Capers. I have finally decided to make Queen Victoria’s costume from Pirates: Band of Misfits. I am looking forward to this one – it will be so much fun ‘cosplaying’ this one!

swords toyWI have now purchased two toy Samuri swords (to avoid weapon restrictions set by the convention).  Sometimes cheap shops come in very useful for budget costuming.

tia dalma 12 accessoriesNext, I rummaged through my craft cupboard for left over Sculpey (I love this stuff almost as much as glue guns!) . It is an inexpensive way to make jewelry and accessories that are not readily available for purchase. I first discovered this when making my Tia Dalma necklace – the chicken foot and the claw. I have definitely become a convert!

necklace 32WI made several round links for the sparkly gold and diamond necklace worn by Queen Victoria.  15 minutes in the oven and I had solid gold (looking) roundels ready to glue on some cheap bling! More rummaging around in my jewelry findings box – I made hooks with some jewelry wire and added a clasp. Voila!

I am now working on the dinky little regal crown. I measured – and remeasured the parts in a hope that they would fit. In the end, it is close enough and will work!

crown 2Mcrown 1W

We Are Very Amused at Our Bling.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Order and Method

I am a Writers’ group convert.  I used to read about the value of such groups – like minded (and non-like minded) writers getting together,  critiquing each other’s work and drinking tea or coffee. (There has to be tea or coffee – and sometimes chocolate cake.) The theory sounded good but I was never quite sure about letting other writers read the words poured from my soul. What if they laughed? What if they thought I was a fraud?

What I discovered was a group of writers who I can talk to with ease (not just about writing), are great company and who are encouraging.  All of our group write (or want to write) speculative fiction. We understand the lure of the fantastical and are quite open to reading my steampunk fare.

Our group – Spec Fic Chic hold a monthly meeting at the local library. Though some turn up each week, depending on our schedules. Each month, I learn something new. (I honestly feel I get more out of the group than the others!) This week I submitted the second half of chapter 3 –  Of Traitors, the Department and Curiosities. This was  a very rough first draft – the stream of consciousness version. I had not had time to do my first rewrite.

This week’s take home message was a reminder that the reader does not know what the writer has hidden in her head. I know the backgrounds and motives my characters.  The reader does not – until I tell.

We talked about the order of the reveal, dialogue and action and the reasons behind a scene that helps it develop the characters or simply make the scene superfluous . (Dialogue should preceed the action it produces – always recommended.) The end result is flowing prose, more suspense and less confusion over the plot.

A big shout out to the lovely ladies who teach me so much, kick my creative muse in the butt and encourage me to keep writing and – best of all – don’t make me feel like a fool.
Thank you.

Now I have over 2500 words to rewrite.

Manuscript Word Progress: First draft:26% completed.
Total Words:  
At 1st draft only:
Revised Words: 

Order and Method

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Of Music, Thankfulness and Unfettered Freedom

I have a rare day to myself today. Loud uninhibited singing in my fortress of solitude means that I can shout for joy and not worry about anyone else in the world. It is liberating and (even just for a moment) banishes all my doubt, anxiety and helps me forget the daily grind.  

I am thankful for the opportunity to let off steam.

thankful jar
On the subject of thankfulness – following a social media prompt, I started a thankful jar. At any time I feel happy or grateful, I write a short note and pop it in the jar. At the end of the year I will read the messages to remind me of all the good things that I have felt or that have happened in my life, this year.

It is slowly filling up. It has already done part of its job. Every time I spy it, I get a warm feeling of contentment as it is already reminding me that there are positive things in my life.

Why don’t you try it? Everyone needs more good things in their life!

Of Music, Thankfulness and Unfettered Freedom

Monday, February 17, 2014

Of Changes, Achieving Goals and Beating Procrastination.

Hello to you, Dear Reader.

Firstly, my apologies if you popped in to read my blog yesterday. I have decided I want to finish the manuscript for The Department of Curiosities by October – at the latest. This means I have to knuckle down and work more my manuscript. To achieve this goal, I had to make some hard decisions.

This leads to my second apology. I can only write so many words in a day, or a week. To achieve my writing goals, I need to write more of my story; this will mean less words for my blog. At this stage, I am planning to  provide you with two blog posts a week. I will be working around my day job, so this will most likely be a Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.

After a a few days of collecting my thoughts together, I had reached that point where I needed to start work on chapter 5. I faced yet another blank page. I choked. I wrote a couple of sentences, crossed them out and then rewrote them – almost word for word.

I find a blank page a very scary thing. Since the last time I wrote on the problem of blank pages and scene changes, I have read  actively on the subject. I then engaged anti-procrastination tactics.

  1. I spent a day creating a quick plot outline, from the many ideas that were bouncing around in my brain.

  2. Next I tried to order them in a more logical timeline (pushing some into chapter 6)

  3. I listed the clues and character background I wanted (or needed) to reveal in this chapter.

  4. I penciled notes into previous chapters, to give hints on some of the upcoming clues and characters, so they did not just plop in out of nowhere.

  5. I took a long shower . This usually ends up with lots of ideas and sentences spilling out of my head. (I really need to find a waterproof notebook or recording device.)

  6. Concentrated on creating a specific character before he began walking and talking in chapter 5

I managed only 550 words, so brought out the big guns.

7. I went to bed to get some sleep. Words started tormenting me. Within 20 minutes I was grabbing the notebook, I keep my the bedside table, and was scribbling down a few pages of ideas.  Any ideas… whatever came to me.

Today, I managed to add 1400 words to my tally on the previous day – though not on chapter 5. I had been concentrating on the character of the Big Bad - more commonly known as the antagonist.  I was resisting the urge to make him a short, snivelly and bald cliche.  In the end I wrote both his first and  final scenes in the story.

Having now filled out his character, weaknesses, background and motives, I am ready to plough on with chapter 5.

Manuscript Word Progress: 24% completed to at least first draft!

Revised Words: 
Total Words:  
At 1st draft only:

Of Changes, Achieving Goals and Beating Procrastination.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Feb 14th

Always and Forever, Sweetie.


Feb 14th

It Might be Peaches Instead.

It is not as simple as we would like it to be.

Last year we discovered a randomly self-seeded plant, hidden under the over-grown ivy. After some quick internet searches we surmised it may be a peach or a nectarine tree, based on the shape of its leaves.

We used to have a nectarine tree. It had to be removed when it became the home to local termites. The neighbour used to have a peach try – just over the fence.  The local birds used to feed on both trees and deposit their left overs (complete with seeds) over our back yard. Both were contenders.

We watched as it flowered then did some more internet research. We were sure it was likely a peach tree but still waited… just in case. The flowers swelled and the fruit started to grow. They looked more like almonds. There used to be almond groves all around the local suburbs. We were no longer sure what our tree would give us.

Over the past few weeks, the fruit has grown larger and plumped out. Our current running theory is that we definitely have a peach tree…


15123_10152203018897937_1988602439_nLife (and writing, and just about everything else) is like our mysterious tree. Things pop up out of nowhere. We think we know what we dealing with. Things change. We change our mind, thinking we have sorted things out. Somewhere along the way, things change again. Life can be confusing. In the end we can only hope that it bears sweet fruit that we will enjoy.

I hope we get peaches.

It Might be Peaches Instead.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Of First Drafts, Title Changes and Plots

The first draft of chapter 4 is now complete!  Unexpectedly, there is another character in the mix, necessitating some additions to chapter 2 to lay more foundations for dear Aunt Prudence.  Somehow I know she had been there all along. Our heroine just hadn’t mentioned her yet.  Again there was the balancing act of sufficient background revelations without becoming boring or giving too much of the plot away.  Aunt Prudence was one of these revelations, and brought with her a change to my planned outline. This resulted in a change in title of the chapter - Of Traitors, Ghostmen and Despicable Acts.

My favourite passage from the first draft:
“Miss Meriwether stood defiantly among them, looking quite dishevelled. She brandished a red parasol,  swinging it in her hand like a golf club. Her bonnet hung precariously, held by the remaining hat pin, revealing a less than pristine coiffe.”

I have now set aside chapter 4 and have begun ruminating on the sequence of events for chapter 5.  After sifting through a pile of notes and ideas, I have pulled out those in the most logical  order. I have jotted down notes on where to fit unwritten plot points that have rolled over from chapter 4. This is an expose chapter. We learn more of one of the secondary characters and the fate of others.  Let the writing begin!

If you don’t count the six hundred-odd words of sequencing and notes for Chapter 5:
Manuscript Word Progress:
Revised Words: 
Total Words:  
At 1st draft only:

Of First Drafts, Ideas and Plots

Monday, February 10, 2014

Photoshoot: Live Music for a Cause.

I pulled out my digital still camera and video camera today. My friend Kylie had organised a concert to raise awareness and funds to help UnitingWorld’s Prevention of Child TraffickingThe programme kicked off with Twig – a local (positive) hip hop artist who hails originally from South Africa.  The second set was a selection of original songs sung by Kylie.

Kylie has been writing songs since she was in high school and now has her own band.  She has recently been asked to write songs for Music Minis, a child music education programme for preschoolers.  I hope I can tell you more information as her career powers on.

My role was to video the concert, as well as take photos of the day. I decided not to use a flash, due to the extended distance from the stage (it did not make much difference), and to take advantage of the available lighting which gave much warmer colours.  It was great to get my camera out to snaps some pics again! Here
are some of my favourites.



IMG_5319    IMG_5306IMG_5275

Twig is also performing at The Adelaide Fringe Festival on 17th Feb, 5th March and 11th March at at The Promethean, 116 Grote St, Adelaide 5000.

Photoshoot: Live Music for a Cause.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Of Storms, Hopes and Thankfulness

Earlier this week, Adelaide shuddered under a big storm. It was reported to have been the worst storm in decades. The winds topped 90 km/hr. Thousands of homes were left without power for up to three days – in the middle of a hot summer. At work, half  of the shopping centre was closed for the day and skylight damage was roped off for shoppers’ safety.

While others recalled their frightening stories, I kept quiet. Blackouts and storms are never a beneficial situation. While my heart went out to those who were effected, I was still in awe of such destructive power that is displayed by nature. I am always thankful when a storm is over and have gratitude for surviving the onslaught.

Secretly I enjoyed the storm (if I did not think of the consequences). Maybe it is the crazy ex-Queenslander in me? I have experienced two cyclones.  So my perspective is a little skewed.  My thoughts were ‘I survived those, I can survive this – no problems!’ 

I also love the fantastic displays of  lightning storms. Having lived in Queensland, I have experienced lightning close at hand –  four times. I have been in buildings that have been struck by lightning. I have seen a tree split by the shear force of it, as we sat in the back verandah, some 20 feet away. The smell of ozone and the crack of light and sound energy will not be forgotten. Even here in Adelaide, the lightning has struck the neighbour’s front door step while I watched the storm. (Our landline phone was fried!)

As frightening as storms can be, they are also exhilarating and awe inspiring  but I am always relieved when they are over and my family and friends are safe.

daveThese storms got me pondering on the recent emotional storms in my life. Even this morning I was weathering them still. Then one kind remark, an acknowledgement of  inspiration, an excited message from a friend and a sincere request – all helped pry open  a crack in the dark clouds. A sliver of hope peeped through, shining the promise of hope that I will endure this storm.
Never give in. Never surrender!

I look at my life – my family and friends and thank God for what I have – my dear husband and daughter who support and love me, friends who encourage me and my old cat who snuggles up and purrs endlessly (that is so great for stress – there are so many studies to prove it!)

tish 1402

Next time there is a storm, don’t fear it. Think of the awesome power nature has to shape things. If we could all harness as much power over our own lives, we could work wonders.  A storm is for only a short time. It is what we do with ourselves for the rest of the time, that truly matters.

Of Storms, Hopes and Thankfulness

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Visuals, Prompts and Writing.

I am a very visual person. I once took an intelligence test. I did fairly average on the numeracy (Maths was never my favourite subject. I just do not think that way.) but blitzed the visual memory and spatial intelligence sections. My husband gets annoyed when I can colour match furnishings from memory or estimate whether the couch will fit the desired location – within millimetres. (Some days are better than others).

When I read, I see colours and characters complete with background music that crescendos at crucial points in the story. I even get opening and closing credits. (Maybe I just watch too many movies?)

When I write, I close my eyes and search for the picture in my head. When I find it, the words flow. If I can see the sequence of events, in my mind’s eye,  I can also hear and smell the scene. This makes it much easier to describe. (I have even resorted to making my husband act out fight scenes.)

This process is much easier when I am recalling familiar events or places. When I am in unfamiliar ground, I look for visual clues – people, buildings, personal items.  Sometimes I print them out. Sometimes I save them to computer. I have recently started a Pinterest page with visual prompts, so I can access it from anywhere.

Today I was writing  a scene where one of the major characters has a meeting with Her Majesty Queen Victoria. On hand I had a photograph of Queen Victoria and access to a virtual tour of the Crimson Room at Buckingham Palace. I love virtual tours! This is where the internet really becomes a virtual playground of wonderment! I also use Google Maps Street View to wander around London (with a copy of Boothe’s Poverty Map as reference to what the area would have been like in the late 1800s.)

victoria visual

Manuscript Word Progress:
Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:
Total Words:  

Visuals, Prompts and Writing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole.

I am a sucker. I know better. I really do, so why do I continue to do it.
“I’ll just pop onto the internet and quickly update my blog and check out some steampunk pics. It won’t take long… Then I will do some writing.”
Famous last words?

Maybe I should have just posted my blog entry and foresaken the internet for the day. Oh, no. I took a little peak. Curiouser and curiouser.

Then fell headlong into the rabbit hole. It was some hours before I realised had comletely ignored the delicious food on the table that beckoned: “eat me.”  It was a late lunch for me. (Don’t even get me started on Pinterest! No, seriously. Don’t let me.)

What I did find was some gob-smacking amazing steampunk art. I now have a new wallpaper on my computer. I am hoping, next time I fire up my computer, this will inspire me to do some writing (and not entice me to go spelunking again).

Thank goodness for the weekly writers’ race , which threw me a rope so I could climb back up the rabbit hole and face my real world. If I do not write, there is no completed manuscript. Like Alice, I need to stop trying to avoid things.

Sometimes I find it so puzzling that I try to find ways to procrastinate, when writing is something I love doing. Even more ironic is that I will start writing (yep, I said writing ) my blog, or some research notes or… anything but my story manuscript.

Maybe is is just the fear of rejection - What if I embarrass myself? If I don’t finish, then there is nothing for people to not like/hate/laugh at. Then I come full circle. If I do not write, there is nothing.

Deep breath. I shall face my fears. I am off to write.

Manuscript Word Progress: Update: I have hit the 20% mark!
Revised Words: 
At 1st draft only:
Total Words:  

Down the Rabbit Hole.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Of Chocolate,Trials and Tea-brilations

(I know, I know. that is really bad).

I love tea.  It is the wonderful brew that not only calms me instantly but provides caffeine to sooth my migraines (along with 85% dark chocolate!) I have been known to audibly sigh as the refreshing golden liquid does its work.

A few years ago, I had a ‘high tea’ for my birthday. I bought several different teas for my guests’ selection. The Prince of Wales became my favourite. Until now it sat on the shelf, next to my T2 Black Rose, a locally grown black tea, the green tea and English Breakfast. There are so many variations of tea. Others come and go, depending on my mood, but these five teas always remained the stars.

Over the past few months Prince of Wales has been getting harder to find. Again, it was not in its usual spot on the shop shelf. I asked at the information counter. Ugh. It is official – they no longer stock it. I dutifully filled out the feedback forms but doubt it will have the desired effect.

Today the mood took me. I really, really needed a cup of Prince of Wales tea but there was none left in the tin. I shall have to make another trip to the city to visit T2. They have ‘take home’ samples to try. Until then I have my English Breakfast and Black Rose… and some Haighs’ dark chocolate.

13 01 24

Of Chocolate,Trials and Tea-brilations