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The perpetual student

nurse . writer . geek

Month

July 2015

Still feeling my way around ‘The Blog’.

For those of you following my daily ‘diary’ page, I don’t know if this alerts you to the new pages or not. Does anyone know how to add tags to separate pages or is that something I can’t do here?

I’ve been asked before why I chose to write about zombies. The honest answer is therapy. How often can you kill that overbearing person that makes your life that little bit harder in your head? I get to do that over and over in new and inventive ways… without the fear of retribution. Before someone starts jumping up and down screaming ‘I knew it was about me!’ all the characters I use have about four different people influencing parts of their character. So no. It’s not just about you. Stop taking it personally. Having said that, I can completely understand GRR Martin’s fascination with taking out key players (Don’t worry, I’m not killing off everyone). It stretches the imagination and skill of a writer to take away the easy ‘hero’ and still be able to deliver a workable product that doesn’t leave fans looking for the nearest exit.

I guess it’s like a writing exercise. When you’re at the gym, you add weights… yeah, I don’t really go to the gym, this is just what Hollywood tells me. When you’re writing, you take away the main protagonist and have to build someone else up to take their place. Something for all you budding authors to think about next time you’re scribbling.

I have something to say about writers block too, but I’ll save that for next time in case I can’t think of what to write. *chuckles to self*

The short story. For OVER fifteens.

When I finished my first book, I still had ideas swimming through my head about what might have happened in other parts of the town. This is one of the thought’s I had that never made it into the book. I didn’t want to condemn it to a life of obscurity in the forgotten files of my computer. So I’m putting it here. It might not be technically appropriate for people under fifteen.

-UNTITLED-

The already hard soil, was baked hot before lunch that morning. The unusual heat wave had the seaside residents out in droves, hitting the shops for the promise of air-conditioned sales. Many more made a bee-line to the beach, eager to secure the best positions before the heat drove the rest out to the cool water.

Sandra had finally managed to coax her family out to the car later then she had hoped. They were sure to hit the crowds headed home after their morning shopping expeditions now.

Weighted down with their beach paraphernalia and a picnic basket, she was quite proud that she had managed to keep the peace as long as she had. Already tempers had begun to fray, and she had made sure to sneak a bottle of wine into the basket as her own beachside reward for dealing with three children under 12 in the scorching heat.

Her husband, Charlie, carried their youngest daughter Mia out of the house. Securing her into the seat, he moved aside just as Steven and Michael barrelled around him to claim their own seats.
Boxing day at the beach had become a family tradition. Even on the cooler days, there was always something to do. It had gotten to the point where she looked forward to this more then the day preceding it. Without the stress of family commitments and presents, they could relax and let the kids run off the sugar overload from Christmas.

The streets were as crowded as she had imagined. Sarah frowned. If they had left when she had wanted to, they would be there by now. Already she could see heavy streams of cars from the direction of Geelong as the townies escaped to the sea. She glanced across to the car beside her, a small smile dancing across her lips as she took in the quiet kids in the back seat. That was an accomplishment to be proud of. Her eyes flicked to the woman in the front seat. The brunet was pale, her eyes wide and locked on the car in front of them. Sandra glanced at the four-wheel drive in front, unable to see anything that would call for that sort of reaction. She looked back at the car, confused. The woman seemed to be driving on reflex, her fingers wrapped tightly around the wheel, her red shirt dripping slowly. Sarah frowned again at the viscous liquid -was that blood?

Sarah’s mouth dropped open and she spun to look at Charlie, she could feel the car slow slightly. He wasn’t looking at her though. His attention was drawn to the side of the road in front of them where she could see three cars had collided. Someone was reaching into the passenger seat, no doubt to help. There were no police or ambulances to be seen, had it just happened? Was it not as bad as it seemed? The driver who had stooped to help the passenger straightened from his position, something in his hand. As the car drew up closer Charlie grabbed her arm.
“Distract the kids.” He hissed “Don’t let them see this.” She gasped as the driver pulled whatever was in his hand up to his mouth.

She turned in her seat and pasted on a thick smile that felt like plaster smothered on her skin, she just prayed it didn’t crack.
“Lets sing a song!” Her voice was high and strained, Michael, her 11 year old looked at her sourly.
“Baa Baa!” Seven-year-old Steven however, was easily distracted by the promise of his favourite song. Michael’s pout deepened but he dutifully sung along, Mia’s tuneless hoots attempting to drown them all out.

Sandra glanced out the window beside her infant daughter as the first car she had seen slowed to a crawl. The woman looked worse now, her head was starting to sink towards her chest, her skin almost yellow through the tinted window. Sandra sung louder as if that would keep her children safe and distracted in their own little world, not outside where it seemed to all be going wrong. Turned in her chair, she could see the driver stoop into the wrecked car again. From this angle, she could see his left arm was missing; the close side of his shirt was drenched in blood. She sucked in a sobbing gasp but kept singing.
“One for the master…”

The car beside them swerved into their lane, barely missing their rear, and running the car behind them off the road completely. Michael turned at the noise.
“Michael! Sing!” Steven insisted. The woman started to thrash in her seat, fighting the restraint of the seat belt to get at the now screaming children in the backseat behind her.
“One for the dame..”

The woman broke free of the belt and she grabbed at the child closest to her, a boy no older then Mia. Sandra let the kids finish the song, she felt sick.
“Charlie, what’s happening?” Her voice was a cracked whisper.
“Sarah! Look! Oh thank God, The authorities are here.” His own voice was less then steady as he pointed out the flashing lights and military style vehicles ahead.

They slowed to a crawl and then stopped as the traffic banked up before them. She could see people standing on top of their cars, some looking scared, some screaming at the blockade.

“Why aren’t they letting us through?”

“Daddy, are we going to see the army men?” Steven leant forward, his head bumping her arm.

“We’ll see mate.” He muttered back.

A man jogged past their car, running toward the blockade, a woman ran behind him clutching at her side, her handbag smacking her car door as they passed. Sandra cracked a window open, the hot blast of air cutting through the air-conditioning. Mia started to whimper.

“Help me please!” The man screamed, reaching back to grab the woman’s arm. “My wife’s been hurt!” Ahead, Sandra could see movement on the top of the trucks. The crowd between the cars had swollen, the fringes reaching as far back as the car in front of them. A young man in fatigues tried to call order to the panicked crowd. Still the man pushed through the crowds, still calling for help.

“Is that a gun?” Sandra asked. The fatigue-clad man had levelled his arm in their direction, still calling for the man to halt as he reached the front lines of the crowd and made no signs of stopping. Suddenly the woman stumbled, her handbag knocking a nearby pedestrian down with her. Sandra lost sight of them in the crowd, only hearing screaming; then the gunshot.

The crowd panicked.

A swarm of people rushed towards them, Sandra put the window up again watching the sea of frightened faces as they swept around them. Sandra could see glimpses of the young woman, lying prone on top of another woman, her face buried in her neck. The man on the truck fired twice, she jerked, and fell still.

Sandra’s door was wrenched open and a large man started grabbing at her belt.

“NO! Out! Get out!” She cried frantically, pushing at him. She could hear Mia screaming behind her. Steven and Michael trying desperately to calm her down.

“You get out bitch.” He snarled yanking at her belt again. Charlie leapt out of the car and ran around the front, wrenching him from the door. The stranger drove a fist into her husband’s face, dropping him to the ground. Sandra yanked the door shut.

“Charlie, get in the car!” She screamed. A few stragglers from the crowd were walking towards them; they had not been left untouched by the violence. All had blood staining their clothes, some more then others. They walked slowly; almost a drunk shamble as they made their way towards them, fingers brushing up against idle cars. A bald man in a gaudy Christmas shirt reached towards      Charlie, pulling him off the thug who had tried to carjack them. He pulled him up towards him and sunk his teeth deep into his neck. The spray of blood coated the window. Sandra shrieked, and threw herself back on the seat, Mia was crying loudly now, Steven’s cries joining hers.

“DAD!” Michael flung his door open and ran around to his father.

“Michael! NO!” Sandra screamed, reaching back to slam the door shut and diving out the door herself just in time to see Michaels belly ripped open by the same thing that had killed Charlie. Sandra ripped him from the clawed fingers, almost blinded by the tears that had started spilling, her son lifeless in her arms. Blinded by grief and shock She didn’t register the bloody fingers that slipped around her jaw until it was too late. She fixed Mia and Steven in her gaze, whispering for them alone.

“…one for the little boy who lives down the lane.”

Random thoughts: Soundtracks.

I’ve been thinking about soundtracks recently. I love soundtracks. They’re a great way to find new music that you might have otherwise missed. At the moment, I’m enjoying the instrumental strains of Hannibal and the Lord of the Rings soundtracks. It seems that when these are playing, I can focus on what I need to do; whether that’s writing, studying, or even just relaxing.

Did you know you can take it with you? I’ve been known to complain a lot about getting music stuck in my head, sometimes however, I don’t mind it. If I can take this music with me, if I can take the feeling of calm that I get from it, I find my day is a lot easier.

It’s harder to stay calm though when the calming music is drowned out by the discord of the ‘real life soundtrack’. I don’t know what surrounds you when you don’t get to choose what fills your ears, but at work our soundtrack is usually a disorganised mess of buzzers, yells, and miscellaneous other noises. Peace can be a little hard to find at times.

Do you have your own mental soundtrack? Do you play your own music in your head to keep you calm, or am I the only one that does that? It’s ok if I am, I really don’t mind being different.

Have you heard the saying “music calms the savage beast”? I find in my experience that it rings true. Not that I rock up at zoos with a speaker ready to go. Or even that the people around me are beast-like (stop looking at me like that, I’m not that bad!). If you know aged care, you know that some people can get quite agitated. I have known a few in my time who fit that description at least. Some of these used to loath showers –truthfully, I can’t say I would have responded any differently at the prospect of a stranger baring me to the cold in the morning-. They had a painful way of expressing it though. They liked to scream. Not the calling out once or twice, but persistently! The first time I sang in one of these less than quiet showers, it was more an attempt to ignore the noise, to try replacing the piercing shriek with my own soundtrack. I was shocked when she stopped! She actually started singing along with me! After that, Que Sera became my shower time soundtrack.
I don’t think I’m the next great singer of our time by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve grown accustomed to the laughs and giggles of the residents when I break out in song, usually followed by their own quavering voice as they join in to the songs they know. I have no problem breaking into random song. Those tunes that imbed themselves in my brain don’t bother me too much anymore. I count myself lucky that I get to sing, not only in my shower, but everyone else’s too!
It’s amazing how much a tune can change someone’s day or mood, even if it’s slightly off key.

Picking up boys (for the socially inept) pt.2

I have a problem.
Ok. I have many problems. I know, but right now, I have this one in particular.
I know that following on from my previous post, this might come across as a little hypocritical which is why I’m naming it ‘part two’.
I mentioned that I was happily single, and that is absolutely true! I also said that I’m not going to stop myself from looking for my player two, the Doctor to my River, the Rory to my Amy. It has to be said though, that this is a fairly recent turn-around.
There was a time, that I allowed fear to stop me from finding that. What happens when you find that person who ticks all the boxes? They’re funny, they understand and share your twisted sense of humour, they get your passions and share your geeky side.. yeah. . they’re perfect. There’s just one little thing. You’re a coward. No not you. Me.
I had a date with that guy. The guy who was all that and more, it was the picture-perfect date. My first date.
I’ll go off tangent here for a moment, and tell you that I have a stupid brain. Not your everyday stupid either! It proceeded to lay out, in detail, the next few years of my life with this perfect guy in the picture, I could see happiness, I could see… every place where I could, and would stuff up.
I panicked.
Like I said. I have a stupid head.
I had no experience with dating. No experience with a guy showing me any type of attention , and I stuffed it.
Royally.
This brings me to the crux of this post. I know that he reads these, and I wanted to apologise to him. I may have given him the impression that I found him lacking in some way, when that is so far from the truth that I can’t even think of an apt analogy. The whole fault was mine. The fear and insecurity that I allowed to ruin any chance, were all mine.
I regret that utterly.
If you are reading this and you find yourself facing a situation that scares you to your inner core, let me be the mistake you learn from. Take that chance that’s dangling in front of your eyes, because you might not ever get that shot again.
Fear is always going to be there. Poking a bony finger at your faults, telling you you’re not good enough, that it will only be temporary, that you’re not good enough. I’m not saying you’ll get it perfect every time. It’s normal to fail at things, but at the risk of sounding like the clichéd card you always get from acquaintances. If you don’t try, you’ve already lost.

My fifteen minutes.

I feel sick. Nervous sick. Not having a literary agent for my book, I know that the main slog of marketing falls onto my shoulders, that doesn’t bother me so much. I can send out emails, I’m used to the “we’re planning on going in another direction” emails. What I’m not used to is “we’ll be there tomorrow at 2”

So now I feel sick.

I am not a people person. Anytime I need to go to an event, I have to psych myself up to walk in the door, and that’s not even having to talk to anyone! How am I going to talk to people who are going to ask me probing questions? Where I need to spin a story in bite-sized segments for a stranger to take notes and photograph and… could someone pass me that paper bag please?

*

*

That’s better.

Actually It went better than I thought. John -the interviewer, yes I had to look up his name- was the picture of gentlemanly courtesy. Perhaps he was used to first timers nerves, being the veteran he is. The photographer -I was introduced, but honestly, it could have been Richard Armitage himself, and I’m not sure I would have remembered his name- had a great sense of humour. They completely put me at ease. Odd, since it was in my comfort grounds. As my first ever proper interview for my book, I can’t imagine it could have gone any better.

There are two reasons for this post. Firstly, even though the chance of them reading this is incredibly slim, I wanted to make sure these guys were thanked. Publicly and explicitly. Secondly, I want to once again encourage any of you budding writers out there. Marketing is a lot of work, and a lot of rejection. When you do get through though, it’s so worth it!

Good luck!!

Picking up boys (for the socially inept)

geek-girl1

So I did that thing today, where you ask Google for help with what you’re sure most people think is a no-brainer of a question. This time, though Google actually failed me! *cue shocked gasp*

This will shock no one I’m sure, but I am one of the ‘chronically single’. I’m not whining when I say that. Chronic is more of a time reference here, as in the medical ‘chronic’ of six months or greater. ‘a(-)cute single’ is something completely different!

There is something to be said in support of singledom. Not only can I sleep in without someone stomping through the house and waking me up at stupid o’clock, I can also wake up at said stupid o’clock if I have to, and stomp around the house begrudging the early hour loudly without fear of waking someone up. If I decide on a whim that today is a lovely day to drive interstate, I can do that (petrol permitting) without having to consult another person’s schedule to see if they can make room for that, or need to justify why I feel the middle of the week is a good idea to drive into the middle of nowhere because someone said there was a good winery/cafe up there.

My dog doesn’t really count. More than one day and she’ll be packed into the camper with me, less than that, and she only cares if I don’t bring her something back.

So why am I looking for ways for ways to pick up boys if I’m so happy with a single life? It’s simple. Just because I’m happy now, it doesn’t mean I’m not looking for that companionship that (in my opinion) every couple should have. I still have hope that somewhere out there is someone who values the benefits of single life (without the sleeping around- can you be monogamously single?) and wants to find their player two. Because that means my ideal partner is most likely just as socially inept as me, I’ve decided to keep my ‘flirt skills’ honed so my limited ability doesn’t die off completely. Besides, who among us doesn’t like the subtle ego boost that you get when a stranger tries a bit of flirting with you, It justifies that extra effort you put into your face that morning. I know I’m usually floating on cloud nine… till I pass the next reflective surface.

One thing I did notice though was that most of the search results were geared at boys. As I mentioned before, the man I usually find attractive is likely going to be as awkward as myself. That means there is going to be that forcefield between us if neither of us has the courage to approach. How to combat this? Practice the flirt! That’s why I’m using the dubiously helpful ‘google’ so that I can be ready when I finally meet that guy that want’s to travel around Australia in a campervan and laugh at horror movies and celebrities with me. At the moment, I’m leaning towards

“Are you a weeping angel? Because I can’t take my eyes off you”

For the record, I think that one would work on me.

Family ties

image

I don’t think I would be where I am now if I didnt have the support of my family behind me. Even if they don’t agree with you one hundred percent, as soon as they know you have a dream, they all -to a person- throw their support behind you all the way. I know the photo borders on name droping, however I just wanted to put this up of two of the writers in the family before my release date. If any of my family are reading this, I’m proud to call you kin, I love you, and thank you for all your support!

Frustration…building

I was going to write a rant about how self-directed learning was killing me; how I was missing having the one on one time that in-class learning provided. I got the end and realised almost none of it was actually true.

I am one of those procrastinators that always look for that handy excuse to not do something. Dishes in the sink? I’m not actually finished with this cup of tea. It would be silly to wash before all the dishes made it up there right?

When I am actually successful in turning off the tv or Xbox, or can honestly close the book after that last chapter and make myself sit down and start, it’s never as daunting as I think. What do you do when you need that polite shove in the back? I’ve tried the organising thing. I’ve started so many diaries and calendars it’s actually a little embarrassing. The only one that lasts is that scrap of paper that I stick on the fridge where my coffee milk is.  Even then, if it’s more than a week in advance, I’ll probably forget it.

I think what I need to do is schedule a repeating post on twitter

“I feel like I’ve forgotten to do something today. Send me a message if we made plans!”

Not sure how well that would go with work though….

Well, I feel I’ve procrastinated long enough with my ramble. Let me know if you have anything that works for you when it comes to motivation. I might have to borrow some ideas!

Pretty sure I have attention problems.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have an incredible poor memory. My running theory is that my work with Dementia patients had exposed me to a previously unrecognised contagious component that has rendered my short term memory all but useless. The point is, I completely forgot that I had this wordpress blog!

I’m here now though and am glad that I have a platform from which to pimp my book, and just chat in general. Like (assumedly) a lot of you, most of my social life is online these days. Between Uni, and writing, (and steam), it takes a lot to tear me away from my laptop. This is likely going to change though. This year and the beginning of next year are going to be incredibly busy. Not only am I going to be releasing the rest of my first trilogy, I’ll be finishing my Diploma, starting my TAE certificate and starting the next series of books that are kicking around in my head; (HINT: it’s a fantasy series). That’s the other reason for this blog. I’m going to take this show on the road! As much as I love my aged care job, I’ve been doing this for ten years now, and it’s time for a change. My ‘plan’ is to see as much of Australia as I can, moving from short term contract, to short term contract dipping a toe in as many waters as I can both metaphorically and physically.

I’ll be keeping notes here as often as I can, and as often as wi-fi allows, posting videos where I can and photos and anecdotes that I pick up. Hopefully, any nurses reading this can be encouraged to further their education, or push their dreams just that little bit further. Any authors out there can read this and maybe think ‘well if she writes like THAT and can get something published, maybe I can too!’. Or maybe you just wish you had the freedom to travel? feel free to live vicariously through me! Send me suggestions if I’m passing through an area you really want to see, I’ll do my best to do it for you 🙂 Or, If you live in an area that I’m passing through, hit me up! I’d love to catch up for a coffee. For now, my boots are firmly on the ground and my camper van is parked.

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