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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Early Christmas Present to You - December Flash Fridays.

Over the past few months, I have noticed that many of you enjoy my garden posts, love the photos on my costume and art posts but, most of all, you seem to love the posts where I share some of my writing. (at least that is what the stats say).

So, in accordance to your wishes, I am declaring December as Flash Fridays Month. My early Christmas present to my readers – that means you!

Occasionally it is fun to pen a short, short story. Just a peep into one of the many worlds I have buzzing around in my head. I have decided it is time to share some of my flash fiction.

What is flash fiction?

Word count definitions vary depending on the source. Under 1000 words seems to be a general consensus.  (then there is micro fiction – under 500 words).

My first offering, next Friday, was written in 2013. I hope you enjoy it.

My Early Christmas Present to You - December Flash Fridays.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Of Schedules, Writing and Real Life Integration.

It has been an interesting month. I have been adjusting to having more time, less anxiety and attempting to organise my time. NaNaWriMo has been a great impetus to get back into the habit of daily writing. I have discovered that my comfortable limit of pushing myself (if that makes sense) is 1000-1500 words per day. If I aim for 1800 words more than a few days in a row, I crash and burn. Thus was born a three-day migraine (helped along by some finishing up paperwork on the ex-day job.)

NaNoWriMo Day 23 was a write off.
Day 24: was more productive; I pushed through the remnants of the migraine and managed the first words since Friday. 1214 added to chapter 13 today. I took a well deserved break, dosed up on painkillers and watched some Miss Marple. I won’t make the 50,000 word ‘win’ but will attempt to finish the first draft manuscript (just over 15,000 words). There is still hope.
Day 25-26: I wrote my way through a lingering migraine and somehow managed roughly 1000 words a day. I shan’t read these words until I start rewrites, as I shudder to think what crap issued forth under the influence of prescribed painkillers.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 26:
Total Words- first draft:  

141124 Q victorias secrets ch13 SMALL

By my calculations, I have lost about a week of writing time (and a possible 7,000 words). I can live with this. I was spurred to make an effort to organise my day. Somehow I have to fit in the following, possibly in this vague order:

  • breakfast

  • empty/fill and run dishwasher

  • water the garden if it will be over 30 degrees C (and I forgot the night before)

  • See what is happening in the world of social media -

  • catchup on podcasts, read web articles on writing, blogs etc

  • 10am- 2pm writing

  • Don’t forget to have lunch and try to get up and move around every hour (I have set a reminder)

  • school pickup

  • a load (or two) of clothes washing

  • some gardening (depending on heat)

  • possibly more writing in the evening or before dinner

  • dinner

  • Downtime. Family time. Catch up on fave tv show taped. On Wednesday I get some more writing in at the Writers’ Race.

  • Don’t forget to water the garden if next day over 30 deg C. I try to water the vege and fruit tree pots every 2-3 days so they will not dry out.

  • Sleep.

That is not too much to ask of myself, is it?

The Department of Curiosities – Manuscript Word Progress: (83.32% first draft)
At 1st draft only:
Revised Words: 
Total Words:  

Of Schedules, Writing and Real Life Integration.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Portable Art - The Perfect Present/ Zazzle Sale

Portable Art! Carry it with you!

Zazzle is having a sale – 40% off cushions plus 10% off your all orders – just in time for Christmas presents.  Perfect time to purchase one of my mugs. Pop over to my shop at Zazzle -Katdb42, purchase a mug and use the code: NOVPILLOWS4U  Then enjoy.

mugs1 mugs2

Or Buy Direct from the Artist.

The Question Mug:10393698_10152857253477937_1059323456876284976_n $20 + postage.

This design is exclusive to Direct Online sales from my website, Personal Appearances, or at The Rare Notion, Adelaide.

Contact me to purchase this mug.

Paypal payments preferred.

Don’t want to pay for postage?

You can purchase this mug at:

The Rare Notion Shop

110 & 112 Balcony Level, Adelaide Arcade, Adelaide, South Australia

Comfy Cusions with Steampunk flair

If you are looking for cushions, I have some steampunk ones at my Redbubble Store at great prices.


Portable Art - The Perfect Present/ Zazzle Sale

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Well Earned Break. Shiny!

NaNoWriMo Updates:

  • Day 20: Chapter 13 continues… I really don’t think I will finish the entire saga by the end of this book. Rethinking endings to tie up the major storyline while allowing others to be elaborated on later.

  • Day 21: Revenge of the Migraine. I have now discovered my daily maximum writing limit and what happens when I exceed it

  • Day 22: A well earned break. One day of Supanova, costumes and crowds (not so keen on the crowds). Is it sad that I took a notebook and wrote down some story ideas.

Yesterday was my fun day. Supanova came to Adelaide once more. I have been busy writing so (ashamedly) I have not made any headway on my Queen Victoria costume. I must rectify that for Comicon 2015. (Remind me, dear Reader.) As one of the guests was Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly – my hubby’s favourite SF show), we decided to do matching outfits – and I mean really matching! Our daughter was keen to get in on the action.

Some time ago my friend, Anwyn, made us Jayne hats in return for an unwanted hat stand. (I think we got the better deal.) I suggested she make mine purple (as a joke). She did. I love it. For my birthday, my dear husband bought me a purple Jayne t- hirt. You can see where I am going here…

hats by Anwyn tshirts purchased

I found a pair of cotton pants at the Salvos and decided to dye them purple. Hence my purple Jayne costume was born.

dye2  dye4  cargo pants done wet

We are Jayne. I think we make a great costume group and we had a lot of fun!


More photos from the day can be found on my FB page – Karen J Carlisle.

A Well Earned Break. Shiny!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

There is a Tea and Tidings Newsletter In Your Inbox!

Well met fair readers!

If you are a subscriber to my email list, you should get it very soon. If you wish to receive next month’s newsletter, you can sign up on THIS PAGE, or on the widget bar, to the right on this blog – or above on Facebook.

I am off to write some more of chapter 13.


tea 14


There is a Tea and Tidings Newsletter In Your Inbox!

Week 2-3 NaNoWriMo Updates

NaNoWriMo updates (for those who are following my progress)

Day 9: A write-off. Pun intended. The past two days caught up with me. I crashed. A few hours of extra sleep helped to recharge my batteries.

Day 10: Finally, my muse is communicating once more. I have found that I can ‘comfortably’ write 1000-1500 words a day. This is exhausting. I write down idea notes on scraps of paper – for later – and try to keep on track. If I push myself further, I can feel the exhaustion overwhelming me. Better to stick to slow and steady. Remember the tortoise?

Day 11: Remembrance Day. Once I had finished blubbering (I always lose it when The Last Post is played), I steeled myself to channeling my emotions into my manuscript.

Day 12: Thanks to the weekly FB Writing Race, I reached 1830 words for the day. Chapter 11 is now finished. Total NaNoWriMo Words Written 11,811. Total first draft word count for The Department of Curiosities: 60,098. That is now over 70% of projected word count for my WiP.  Feeling confident I can actually get the manuscript first draft finished before Christmas.

Day 13: Not a very productive day. I did manage 935 words – even though I was sidetracked watching a Jim Steinman musical on Youtube.

Day 14: Not feeling terribly loquacious today. 1068 words down. Took a break to choreograph a fight scene in my head. It is times like these I am glad I did rapier.

Day 15: Only managed a measly 400 words – mostly notes.

Day 16: It is week 3. Trying to write a fight scene (Parasols for the win!)- while breathing in dye fumes from the laundry sink for my Supanova costume. Surprisingly, I managed 1304 words today. Total for the month so far is 15,892. This is officially a record for most words written in a month – and it is only half way through!

Day 17: Spent the day sorting out dayjob necessities. Phone calls, emails and frustration. Sadly, no new words today. Consoled myself with some Miss Marple.

NaNo handwritten half book 141118Day 18: It is Tuesday! Enthusiasm abounds! 1570 words brought me to the end of Chapter 12. Mayhem has been had. Though behind on the official NaNoWriMo winning count, I have written over 76% of my manuscript with less than 20,000 left on my original projected word count. Can get the story finished by then?

Day 19: I am half way through my first notebook. It has been a patchy day for writing, interspersed with chasing up ex-day job necessities. I wrote myself into a hole, dug myself out of it again, then decided to add some more twists.  I am utterly exhausted but still managed over 1700 words and chocked up almost 79% of the first draft manuscript is now complete.

I will have to plant some more carrots in the vege patch. I have managed to eat my way though almost half of the remaining crop.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 19: Total Words- first draft:  

Week 2-3 NaNoWriMo Updates

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tackling Writers Block

It happened. As predicted. Week two of NaNoWriMo generates writers’ block. As a NaNo novice, I was warned. I had hoped (as I was continuing with an existing manuscript and therefore already passed the middle of my story) that I might avoid the abandonment of my muse. I was wrong.

Fortunately (?), this coincided with being laid out flat with back issues and pain. I had a lot of time to ruminate on the problem. So there is my excuse for days 7-9 when my word count update was non-existant.

By Sunday, I could move without screaming. Without major painkillers, the brain fog lifted and I could begin to concentrate again. It was time to put some block busters to the test. Here are some tactics I have tried:

  • Avoid the internet as much as possible (It is hard to only stick to research)
  • start handwriting (as opposed to typing on a keyboard). This accesses a different part of the brain. (I return to typing when I need logic to kick in – like when editing)
  • ‘freewrite’. Write anything. Everything. See what happens. (In a way, this is the purpose of NaNo. But I still stop to think about things – way too much. Hence the slow word count.)
  • play music to put me in the mood. If I can get into the write head space (not a misspelling), the words are more likley to flow. I have been known to listen to The Cog is Dead, and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds (with Richard Burton) on occasion.
  • Occasionally I even watch a genre-related movie or TV show (I do steampunk so it is usually something Victorian). I let my mind wander through the streets, absorb the atmosphere, then nudge that stubborn muse.
  • Finish the scene or chapter, then write down the first sentence of the next scene. Sometimes I write a few sentences, or quick summary on where I think the next scene will go. When I go back the next day, it gives me a boost. Sometimes I decide to go in a different direction but the spark is still there. I am not starting cold.  (I have been using this one a lot during NaNoWriMo).

Do you have any tips for beating writers’ block? Feel free to leave a comment below.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 13:
Total Words- first draft:    Day 15 updated: 14,588/50,000

The Department of Curiosities – Manuscript Word Progress: (72.24% first draft)
At 1st draft only: Day 15 updated: 41,875
Revised Words:  Day 15 updated: 23,600
Total Words:   Day 15 updated: 62,475

Tackling Writers Block

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Writing, Health and Childhood Dreams.

It is week two of NaNoWriMo. My word count is not as high as I would have liked but there is a reason (other than procrastination). I quit my day job because I have decided to prioritise my health. For now, writing is my full-time concern. This does not change my current priorities – my health.

For the past two weeks, my stress culminated in major back and hip issues. The pain has been unbearable at times. Recovery is slow (too slow!) and not conducive to hours of sitting and writing. What bad timing! Just when my muse is gets into the swing, I need to take a break. Writing can take a toll on our back, wrists and eyes. What a perfect time to ruminate on ways writer’s can watch their health.

notebook stessBack: This one has been on my mind recently. Sitting in one position at a table or desk (or leaning your neck forward when sitting in bed) are not natural positions for our neck, shoulders or back. Muscles can be strained. They can spasm. They can cry out in pain. This is definitely not a time when you should work through the pain. There are many stretches you can do (depending on your own health levels and abilities).

The biggest thing is to stop writing (there goes that muse complaining again), stand up and move around. This week I am setting an hour timer – to remind me to get some mobility happening. Still having issues? See a chiropractor, physio or GP to ensure you don’t have back, neck or shoulder issues that need attention.

Wrists: We use them to write, whether we choose to hand write or type our manifestos. Take time to look at the positioning of your hands and wrists. Sitting in bed and tapping away may not provide the best wrist angle for long periods of writing. Take time to give your hands (and arms) a break. Don’t forget gentle stretches, circling your wrists or wiggling your fingers. If you still experience problems with your hands or wrists, get medical advice. If you are considering long-term writing you will need to ensure there are no underlying problems.

Eyes: Dry eyes? When you concentrate, or stare at a computer screen, you don’t blink as often. Look away from the screen every time you refresh the screen, turn a page, or are deep in thought. Remember to blink. Every bit helps.

Ever wonder what prolonged close work and electronic gadgets are doing to our eyes? Recent studies are showing that excessive close work and time indoors are strong environmental factors contributing towards an increase of short-sightedness in the population.

For years I have been encouraging my family to spend more time outside. (Optometry Australia recommend at least 30 minutes a day.) Garden, walk, play sport, drink tea and watch the birds fly by – it does not matter what you do. Just go outside.  Changing your focus (away from close work) is beneficial, especially if you have ocular muscle imbalances. Further studies suggest Vitamin D* and UV* may also play a part in regulating the growth of the eye and short-sightedness. (Not much can be done about genetics.)

Still having problems? See your optometrist for an eye check. We use our eyes constantly for writing (and reading). We need to ensure they are healthy and any focusing or ocular muscle issues are dealt with. (You can take the girl out of the day job but you can’t take the day job out of the girl).

General Health: Unhealthy eating and lack of exercise can effect our immune system, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, heart – everything. Try to have healthy snacks nearby. Eat as much fruit and vegetables as you can. (I munch on fresh carrot sticks and apples – as well as my dark chocolate.) Drink enough water. (I alternate drinks of tea and water.) Ensure you have enough vitamin C (for the immune system) and Vitamin D (health of the bones).

*I use an app called SunSmart, recommended by Cancer Council. It tells you the current UV index, what times sun protection is needed, how much sun exposure you need to get enough Vitamin D and gives a sunscreen application reminder to avoid excess UV. It is a fine balance.

If nothing else, open a window for fresh air. Better still, go outside and get some exercise. A healthy mind and body will benefit our writing.

When I was nine years old, I imagined myself as a little old lady, with grey plaits, ferreting around in the garden and writing novels. If I want to make that dream come true, then I will need to look after my health in the mean time. I invite you to join me.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 12:
Total Words- first draft:  

On Writing, Health and Childhood Dreams.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo updates. Being Accountable for Word Counts.

Here is a rundown of what NaNoWriMo has been like so far. Posting this makes my accountable for my writing. It spurs me into action. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Day 1: A family wedding and acute back pain. Putting off until tomorrow what I should have done today
Day 2: Pushing through the back pain. Writing on pain killers is an interesting thing. Managed 607 words (Note: I reread them on Day 7 … oh, dear. Thank goodness for rewrites).
Day 3: Pushing through and finding my feet. 1344 words, then hit a wall. Procrastination sets in. Instigating Procrastination Protocol 101: Took a break and tried to do some notes on upcoming scenes – not easy as a Pantser. Can’t access NaNo’s website to update. Total word count: 3200 words.
Day 4: Got bogged down in various machinations. Needed to make notes to keep all the twisty turnies in check. Spent a few hours sketching out clues and points to remember, for the next few chapters (and the endgame!) Wanted to keep the momentum, so am trialing Good Advice on how to prevent Writer’s Block #1 – wrote the first paragraph for the next scene in preparation for tomorrow.  Total NaNo word count: 4587
Day 5: Not only did I manage 1998 words today (squeals of delight ensue), I also finished Chapter 10. First scene on Chapter 11 is now written (though I may split the chapters elsewhere on rewrites. I think there is a better cliffhanger earlier on.) A cool breeze through the back door, eggs and soldiers for lunch, and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds with Richard Burton is playing in the background. A good day. Total word count: 4587 words.
Day 6: Extremely tired. Feel like I was hit by a bus. Is this the writing hangover  I have heard talk of?  Procrastination thy name is Facebook… and cup of tea… and chocolate… and blog post … and … The writing is not coming easily. I did manage 678 words – so not a total loss. Friday and Saturday is a total loss writing-wise. Preparing to push myself next week.  Taking a break. Catching up on ‘writing’ podcasts. Some interesting stuff on publishing, and NaNoWriMo..

Total word count is over 7000 words in less than six days – a personal best so far.
Day 7 and 8: Prebooked professional conference. It is a must-attend to keep my registration up for my day job. With all the recent stress, I am not coping well. Longing for Day 9 – and writing.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 8:
Total Words- first draft:  

Here we are Day 9 has arrived. My purple notebook is filling up. Total word count is 7263. Time for some perspective. I went into my first full NaNoWriMo hoping for the best but not really expecting to ‘win’ (ie. achieving that magical 50,000 word count). My personal goal was to make a dent in my WiP manuscript, The Department of Curiosities. That I have done. Let’s look at the numbers so far:

  • Total NaNoWriMo word count: 7263 

  • Total manuscript (first draft) word count: 55,550

  • % of projected word count (based on average steampunk/SF genre books – 85,000): 65.35%

  • words left til reach projected word count: 29,450 (less than my novella Doctor Jack!)

  • Total cups of tea: 32

  • One block of 85% dark chocolate.

  • a large handful of homegrown carrot sticks

  • Blog posts: 3

Puts it in perspective really.

The Department of Curiosities – Manuscript Word Progress: (65.35% first draft)
At 1st draft only:
Revised Words: 
Total Words:  

NaNoWriMo updates. Being Accountable for Word Counts.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Of Life, Health and Writing.

Over the past few years, I have hinted at some of the ‘real life’ issues I have been facing. One of them has been extreme work-place stress, leading to anxiety. This had been bubbling up for a few years and escalated in late 2012. The final straw was the attack of a security guard in front of my workplace. I had time off with extreme anxiety and spent the next (almost) two years clawing my way back.

The past few months have been… well, even more complicated. I felt like a rag-doll being pulled from every direction, just waiting to rip at the seams. Last week I quit my job of 17 years. I am now teetering on the edge of deciding whether to make a break from a 28 year career. You could say they won. You could say I snapped. I say I saved myself from a downward spiral.

For the next three months, I am throwing myself into full time writing. My goal is to clear my head of past anxieties, improve my health and rid myself of this ongoing, acute back pain that has plagued me over the past several months.

It is a scary concept – no day job, full-time creating and a lot of future hard work – research, rewrites, edits. Writing has always been cathartic for me; I don’t see why my current situation should change that.

It seems NaNoWriMo has come at a very opportune  time. I may not make the 50,000 word goal but I will forge ahead with my current manuscript, The Department of Curiosities, and learn to enjoy life once more.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 5:
Total Words- first draft:  

Of Life, Health and Writing.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Of Weddings, Planes and NaNoWriMo.

What a way to start NaNoWriMo. I spent the weekend interstate for my brother’s wedding. I had planned to visit the state museum – in steampunk attire – but ended up nursing acute back pain while trying to get my first words down for NaNoWriMo. Try writing on the plane (a first for me) while on pain medication…

Earlier in the week, I began preparations for the month long writing fest:

  • I cleared off my desk and filed a mountain of papers, in readiness for writing.

  • purchased two new note books for handwriting (I hope to have to buy more)

My motivations for the month. Top 10 reasons to do NaNo:

  1. to get this story out of my head and onto paper

  2. to forget (and chase away) my recent anxieties and stresses by creating something – catharsis (when I write – or create something – I am more relaxed -even when grumbling over editing).

  3. to return to my discipline of writing daily

  4. to finish this first draft and get a move on.

  5. the challenge – to push myself to a new monthly word count (maximum is 15000 so far)

  6. no one else can write my story

  7. To finally find out what will happen to my characters. (yep, panster)

  8. Since I was 9 years old, I have dreamed of being a writer. I had better get on with it then!

  9. to kick procrastinaton in the butt!

  10. I love to write.

So far my word count is minimal. At at least I can stand up and sit down unassisted now and I have taken significant steps to reduce the stress and anxiety which has been the root of the recent back issues.

Today we fly home (more meds) and I start a new chapter in  my life, as well as my book.

NaNoWriMo word count. Day 1:
Total Words- first draft:  

Of Weddings, Planes and NaNoWriMo.