On getting up to date…

Its the last third of winter and that means that sometimes all you want to do is snuggle down by the fire and forget the horrible cold world exists. Normally I like winter. Frosty mornings are my favourite. Foggy days are terrifically mysterious. Rain makes you feel cosy and warm inside. Except when it’s bucketing down for days on end and turning the front lawn into a lake and getting everything soggy!

Which it has.

And as for those grey, chilly can’t-make-up-my-mind-what-I-want-to-be days. Ugh.

I’ve been working hard getting my submission of The House of Petunia for Pitch Wars (more about that later). In a writer’s life there are times when your creativity wells get depleted and you stare at the computer screen and think “I got nuttin”. Or worse, when you look at what you’ve written and think. ‘This is the biggest pile of rubbish ever created. I should delete the whole bally lot!’

Back away. Just back away from the computer…

But after a couple of weeks of mucking around I have found that I’ve gotten dreadfully bored. Now I’m ready to write insulting and silly things about pixies. Plus chip away at my platform, which includes getting a new profile pic up and running.

Bit of a fraught process really. This is my FIRST selfie.

I know, I know. I’m a luddite.

First attempts weren’t so great. Trying to eliminate inevitable double chin and try and tame the fuzzy fringe so that it doesn’t make me look like Donald Trump. And try to take it discretely in Laidlaw Library so that I don’t look like a narcissistic fool.

Must. Avoid. Duckface!

The pic done, I now wrestle with the complexities of trying to get the blasted thing from my phone to my computer. Dunno where Bluetooth has sent the file. End up emailing it to myself after much frustration. It shouldn’t be this hard!

But here’s the end result. Not bad. I don’t look like Donald Trump. Could do with a bit of mascara and lipstick though…

IMG_20170807_120719

On the birth of an author… (aka – finally coming up with a pen name that I actually like).

Hello

I’ve been fiddling with my name for quite some time now…

Andrea Coster just didn’t sound ‘authory’ enough so I embarked on trying to come up with a pen name.Authors do it all the time. J K Rowling used her initials rather than her actual name because she wanted boys to read her stuff. Apparently they wouldn’t if they realised she was a girl. To further fool everyone, when she embarked on a completely new series that wasn’t Harry Potter, she called herself Robert Galbraith. I’m not prepared to go that far. It would cause confusion at book fairs, so I thought I’d just try out the whole initials thing.

I tried that with my own name.

A D Coster…

Nope still not right. The ‘Coster’ bit was still not doing it for me.

Wait a minute! When Dad did some research into our family tree he found out that our family name was originally Costard. Oh, and we owned a pub… but I digress…

So lets try A D Costard…

Nearly there. (Actually I feel a little pretentious about the ‘Costard’. It feels like when Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances pronounces her last name to sound like ‘Bouquet’).

You know I’m not really sold on the whole ‘Andrea’ thing either. However my middle name is Dorothy.

Which I hated growing up because it was my grandmother’s name and sounded so old fashioned. But hey! Old fashioned is ‘in’ right now!

Dorothy it is then. Who’da thunk?

Dorothy Costard… Needs a little extra something…

My other grandmother’s name was Daisy. I really loved her and suspect that I inherited her sense of humour. Now you know who to blame. She should make a decent middle initial.

Righto, so here we go.

Dorothy D Costard!

And there you go. An author is born…

Win!

So when you’re wearing a new name you have to expect it to squeak when you turn around in it too quickly. My main worry is that in public settings when people only know me by my pen name, someone will yell ‘hey Dorothy’ and I’ll either ignore them or go “Who?… Oh Me!”

Could be awkward.

 

 

On What Come From Silly Conversations About Llamas

We had a silly conversation about Llamas today, in the staffroom.

As you do…

Apparently one of the local pet stores had them on display. We speculated how we would get one home. This set off a train of silliness in my brain, which will probably be a scene in the The House of Scathland, the fourth book in The Standingground Chronicles. In The House of Scathland Petunia embarks on her first mission as a Standingground. She is part of a team sent to restore a ecologically ravaged magical kingdom back to its former glory. This means reintroducing extinct species. She gets more than she bargained for when she sends her assistant Feverell, an elf who first appears briefly in The House of Standingground but gets more of a part here, returns back from his visit to the pet depot to get some drakon food.

llamaEnjoy.

I stared in astonishment at the sight that greeted me when I stepped outside the tent. There was a llama all right. It had poked its head out of the sunroof of the SUV and was looking around interestedly. He was chewing in that slow measured pace llama’s have and since he wasn’t anywhere near grass I could only assume that he was chewing on bits of SUV.

Mr. Triptych took one look and collapsed in helpless laughter. He was going to be no help.

“You got a llama,” I said, turning to Feverell who blushed.

“Well yes,” he said. “They were having a sale at the animal depot when I was getting the drakon food and I… well… I thought he’d be useful.”

“A llama.”

“Yes.”

“There aren’t any llamas in Scathland,” I pointed out.

Feverell opened his mouth.

“And I’m pretty sure they’re not a little known extinct species that died out and need reintroducing either,” I continued.

Feverell shuffled his feet.

“He was lonely,” he said. “He gave me a look Miss Petunia. I just couldn’t leave him.”

There was a short pregnant silence. The llama chewed at me.

“He’s called Rama,” offered Feverell.

There was a short pause.

“Rama llama,” I said flatly.

Another pause.

“If you tell me his last name is Ding Dong, it will go hard with you,” I said shaking a finger at the hapless Feverell. Feverell blanched.

I looked back at the chewing hairy mattress thing occupying the SUV. It spat out whatever part of the car it was masticating and honked.

I sighed. This is what happens when I try to do a favour for the elf king. Maybe Rama Llama could be a good diplomatic gift to King Endalon, I thought vengefully. After all Fedalis had plenty of grass.

 

On Forgetting Coffee and its Consequences…

Caffiene

So I woke up this morning with the horrified realisation…

I forgot to buy coffee yesterday and there is none in the coffee jar!

To those who might be concerned about my coffee addiction, let your fears be soothed. I only drink one cup of coffee a day in the morning but its a vital cup of coffee! Of course it’s Sunday, and one of my little rituals is taking a covered cup of coffee with me to church. Yes we are that hip folks…

I arrived at church, groggy and half asleep and remembering that I was on chalice that week (thats giving the communion cup to people during communion for those of you unfamiliar with church speak). So I sit in my usual spot (otherwise it disturbs my shalom)thinking ImustnotforgetI’monchalicImustnotforgetI’monchaliceImustnotforgetI’monchalice.

I forgot… I blame lack of coffee…

“Andrea?” says Andy our Vicar. “Aren’t you meant to be up here?’

I snap out of my dream at the end of the offertory hymn to realise that everyone in the church is staring at me. 

Uh oh…

Quickly scoot up to the front to a chorus of titters as I blame the whole thing on lack of coffee!

Embarrassment! Andy gives me a friendly twinkle.

‘You were deep in prayer weren’t you?’

Yes. Thats exactly what happened. Prayer. Absolutely. Exactly that. Yes.

I have coffee now. All is right with the world.

 

On New Shiny Books!!

Weeeee! I just feel like a piece of my childhood arrived in the mail!

English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs…

English Fairy Tales

I used to own this book when I was a child. We’d bought it at a book fair held at Caroline Bay.

I loved it.

And then, as children sometimes randomly do, I gave it away to a friend. And poof, it was gone from my life. I really missed it after a while but didn’t think I would ever find another copy again. This is in the age before the internet thingy…

I started thinking about it again just a few weeks ago because now I’m an aspiring novelist I search for resource books on mythology, folktales and magical creatures to fuel my own work. Suddenly I remembered my old fairy tale book and did a google search and behold! There it was in Book Depository!!

Now it has arrived!

This inter-web thingy ain’t half useful..

 

On Downright Disturbing Ad’s…

Since I am on holiday at the moment I resolved that I was actually going to rest (see Sabbath as Resistance on my book page) and not try and write. Once I made that decision I felt a whole lot better and could really relax. Even though you want to be disciplined about your craft sometimes it pays to step back and let the creativity wells fill up again.

This means a good cartoon binge watch…

I have settled on Sofia the First which, for those of you not familiar with the cartoon universe and who despair of me being a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, is a Disney Junior cartoon about a little girl who finds herself a princess in an enchanted kingdom when her mum marries the king. Its full of flying horses, fairies, disappearing orchards and all the magicky goodness that I love.

Sofia the First

Okay okay, its obviously for children but I just don’t care.

The site I am streaming it on however makes watching it a little weird…

All the ads imbedded in the video, which you are forced to see before you click the video on, are for Hot Asian Ladies or video games which claim, ‘your girlfriend won’t like you playing this game’ accompanied by a computerised picture of ladies with improbable chests and very little clothing.

What the hey

What the freakin’ hey!!!!!

Have the site builders not realised that children will be watching these cartoons?!?

Hey, I’m an adult and I don’t want to be bombarded with this rubbish. The ads seemed to have changed to ‘How to make obscene amounts of money by doing practically nothing‘ which is fractionally better but not by much.

Oh look we’re back to improbable ladies again…

Wonder if I can switch these off? Any tech savvy reader please let me know.

On Comfort Novels

bunny slippers

I recently started a conversation thread on my Writer’s Guild website asking what books or series of books (I was kind) they could comfortably be stranded on a desert island with. Most of them cheated and said they’d bring notebooks instead and write their own stories.

That’s authors for you…

As for me I did NOT cheat and reckoned that the series that would see me through getting trapped on a desert island would be The Narnia Chronicles by C S Lewis.

I know this for a fact.

In 1994, as part of my college course, I went on a trip to Vladivostok, Russia, for three months. You need to understand… this was the age before kindles, before internet, before laptops. I wrote my college assignments on an electronic typewriter!  Even email was a new fangled thingy…

I know… I know… how did we even remain walking upright…

If I wanted reading material I needed to take actual paper books with me and because you really don’t want to be lugging a library around Russia in a suitcase I was forced to choose a few books that were likely to last me three months.

I chose the Narnia Chronicles.

The Narnia Chronicles

I read and re-read and re-re-read and re-re-re-read them. Mind you when I got home I didn’t pick them up again for years. But I did pick them up again and I’m still re-reading them to this day.

The Narnia Chronicles are what I call Comfort Novels. For me the story isn’t spoiled by knowing what will happen.

The joy is in reading a tale well told like Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

Howl's Moving Castle

Or Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley.

Spinlde's End

These books are the literary equivalent of comfy slippers. The good old stories that you turn to again and again when you want something easy to read. Sort of like your Mum’s apple crumble. It’s the same recipe but you know it’s gonna be delicious. My father however reads a book, donates it to the local library and never refers back to it again! How can anyone do that!?

Still working out how I’m related to him…

My go-to comfort authors are Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, Robin McKinley, Rick Riordan, Sharon Shinn, C S Lewis and Ilona Andrews. In fact the only books I’ll buy now are the ones that I’ll re-read.

Ah-ha you say! But how will you find good new authors if you only buy books that you will re-read?

Thats what libraries are for, silly…

And Bookbub…

So what book would you be happy to take to a desert island with you? No Cheating!!

On Critiquing Tamora Pierce…

Nothing produces more bowel knotting terror in an author, than having their work critiqued.

For those of you who have no desire to produce any kind of prose, it is difficult to describe just how precious a piece of writing becomes when you have slaved and sweated and spent countless hours staring at a computer screen. Its almost like producing a child.

You know what happens to a Mamma her offspring are threatened…

dragon

But writing is not a sport for the soft of skin needing their ego’s stroked. If you want your work to improve you have to toughen up, buttercup, and take it on the chin when someone,( who knows what they’re talking about that is), tells you that some piece of your work isn’t working. Kinda like submitting your carefully crafted dish of food before the Masterchef judges.

I did mention the bowel knotting terror didn’t I? Just making sure…

But critiquing is a two-edged sword. When I joined the writing site Scribophile I was expected to critique other people’s work.

You end up doing this quite a lot. It takes a LOT of concentration, so much so, that you can sometimes find yourself going cross eyed with the effort.

It also starts doing weird things to your brain…

At the end of an afternoon of critiquing prose for fellow writers, I took a break to eat some food and read a book for fun. I was doing some comfort reading because my brain had flopped into a gooey sludge from ALL THAT CONCENTRATION! My book of choice was Tricksters Choice by Tamora Pierce.

I started reading.

Hm, she needs to tighten up that sentence…. things seem to be moving a little slowly here…Oh thats and effective metaphor… Yeah, I’d reword that…

0_0

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME??!!!

Holy Cow I’m critiquing Tamora Pierce!!!!!!!

Arrrrgh!!!

I often wondered if the Masterchef judges have spoiled their palette’s so much with fine dining that they’re incapable of sitting down to a plate of ordinary egg and chips without feeling the need to critique the consistency of the egg and whether the flavours blend effectively.

Thankfully it wore off.

Like a mosquito bite…

So dear reader we can learn two things from this week’s scrawling.

  1. Always be thankful for any critique you get (even the mean ones – they still have a truth buried in the manure somewhere) because a lot of time and effort has gone into it.
  2. Never read a book right after you’ve been critiquing other peoples work. Watch Pokemon instead…

On Needing More Pling…

Because it’s silly….

And I like silly things…

Lu Tze:   “Is it not written, ‘theres more ways to choke a dhang dhang than stuffing it with pling’ lad’.

Lobsang: “Is there?”

Lu Tze:  “Oh yes. If you’ve got enough pling…”

The Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett

Lu-tze

On Being An Author When I Grow Up…

My plot is thickening

This is the official relaunch of Sillylicious.

For those of you who were brave enough to follow my ridiculousness, you may have wondered where I’d gone. Let me explain…

I started writing this blog in 2011. Back then I was in the middle of a theological degree, working part time at Farmers and coping with earthquakes. My blog was a great way to write about the silly things that cropped up in Christian culture, partly inspired by Jon Acuff’s blog ‘Stuff Christians Like’. It was tremendous fun but as time progressed my degree demanded more and more time and life got steadily less and less silly. My blog kinda petered out. But something new starting poking little green shoots through the soil.

I had started writing my first novel…

I’d always had authorial aspirations. I’d made several attempts at writing one at when I was twelve. Then I started another one which sputtered to a stop and never really started again. Then I started The House of Petunia on the white fire of inspiration back when I was a Music Pastor in the early 2000. It had gone for two chapters than stopped because life started happening the way it does sometimes. Then one evening several years later one of my friends, at the homegroup I was going to at the time, started praying about my creativity.

I guess we know who to blame for what followed Rob…

Within the next week I had dusted off the first two chapters of The House of Petunia and reacquainted myself with my main character Petunia, and the mysterious Mr Triptych. A monster named Norman was discovered in the basement. He ate plates.  Chapter three was up and running and kept going, and going and going and behold! The Standingground Chronicles were born.

I discovered that I still wanted to be an author when I grew up.

So where are we now?

I’ve finished my theological degree and still work part time at Farmers so that I can write. I’ve finished my first novel but discovered that, due to writing by the seat of my pants what I actually had was not one book, but THREE books. This means I’m currently at work on hammering out the story arcs of the first three books in the Standingground Chronicles as well as writing my first stand alone novel, The Cat’s Tale.

This means the nature of the site will be changing.

Don’t worry. I haven’t become a frog worshipper and no, a theological education did not turn me into a liberal… I still like God a heap but, in the interests of appealing to a wider audience, the overtly Christian content will be located at Thoughtitudity.wordpress.com. This site will be dedicated to the true and noble pursuit of writing and on my authorial journey.

Make that hard out hike through knee high mud…

Wearing very, very, very big backpack…

And so it begins…