…the one where my girlfriend was peeing in the bushes and the cops showed up.

Some memories of high school still make me roar with laughter.

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Picture this: Alice Springs, a small outback town in the middle of the desert, nineteen eighty something.

When there isn’t a lot to do in a dust bowl of a town like the one we were fortunate to grow up in, you make your own fun. And this night it happened to be in the form of ‘cruising around.’ Where hapless teenagers would drive from the Truck Stop to the Golf Course, to the Speedway or Drive-In on an endless loop, hooting and hollering at other kids from the same school indulging in the same activity. Aimlessly wandering the streets in a car said that we were free! To have a car was a massive status symbol… and my Mum’s Mercedes Benz was the biggest statement of all – especially filled with a four-pack of gussied-up teenage girls.

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We call it cruising around because not only did we partake in the automobile activity, but it was usually accompanied by Vodka Cruisers, Goon-bags of wine, or in our case, West Coast Coolers. But before you get your fingers out to waggle at me, I was the designated driver, so no alcohol for me. If my parents had gotten a sniff of trouble, or I so much as sullied the shine of the Merc, my car privileges would be revoked until I was a hundred years old. That meant no freedom, no flaunting for boys, and nights filled with lame video marathons and grumpy parental chaperones.

As it sometimes happens when you’re driving about with a car full of four buzzed pubescent girls, someone needed to pee. Real bad. And we were ages away from the nearest facilities. Being Alice Springs, it’s just a case of pulling over on the side of the road and you can sneak into the bush to do your business – So that’s what we did.

I had to angle the cars lights off the road so my friend could see where she was walking, and while she ventured into the scrub we turned up the radio and proceeded to dance in the headlights – as you do when you’re feeling the chemical rush of half a West Coast Cooler in the middle of nowhere.

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Just as we bust a move, hear the trickle of pee splash from behind a shrub, a cop car pulls up. Great!

One of my friends freaks out, dives into the car and is desperately shoving our coolers under the seats – yes, we were drinking under the legal age. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes, so to say it looked like she was in the throws of a heart attack is an understatement.

I’m a little shocked and dumbfounded to see the men in blue show up in the most deserted place in Australia, one friend gyrating in the headlights, another hyperventilating inside the car, as another stumbles out of the bush yanking up her jeans. What must they think?

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They do what cops back then did – posture a little, have us line up and invade our space… no doubt trying to detect a waft of booze on our breaths. Luckily we all managed to pull it together long enough for the boys in blue to believe our story that we only pulled over for an emergency toilet stop. I didn’t know it at the time, but they had actually suspected that we’d stolen the car and were out joyriding (another activity of the local youth in this armpit of a town.)

Just as they were about to leave, headquarters radioed them back, a check on the licence plate number had yielded a result, and wouldn’t you know – my parents hadn’t paid the latest registration fee.

Needless to say the night ended with my father coming to collect us, screaming at the cops because they wouldn’t let him drive an unregistered car. But like hell he was going to leave a luxury car sitting on the side of the road waiting to be stolen. My friends were dumped home, and, like ninjas, my parents collected the car in the shadow of night while I kept a lookout for the police as we sneaked the car home.

I don’t know when they found the bottles of booze under the seat, the next time I checked, they were gone. But I didn’t get into trouble, or have my car driving privileges revoked… thankfully they were too embarrassed at having my friends and I hassled by the police for driving an unregistered car.

That’s what I call a lucky break! And that’s how we roll in country towns 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fit for Writing

Ever since I took the plunge and started taking my writing seriously, long hours at the keyboard have resulted in an expanding waistline. Now, the imaginative prose I churn out have thickened into a spare tyre around my mid-section.

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So I started exercising, not only to keep my body fit, but my mind fresh and pumped full of endorphins – only it didn’t work. The pounds kept creeping on. I was starting to feel like I had been cursed. *shakes fist at the sky*

I eat healthy, exercise regularly and felt I was doing everything to keep that trim body, but it just wasn’t happening. The same thing I used to do in my 20’s and 30’s has stopped working. After speaking to a doctor and then a fitness trainer, I discovered women of a certain age (I hate that phrase) go through a major hormonal shift, and weight gain happens to be a consequence.

Great. But what if I don’t feel comfortable with the extra weight, what if I’m concerned about an increased risk of diabetes or other health issues? I can learn to love jiggly bits, as long as it is not at the cost of my health and lifestyle.

All is not lost. With this shift in metabolism and body chemistry, I’ve been told I need to change tactics – cardio will no longer help shed the pounds alone. I need to be doing some weight training. It works, but be warned – it’s much harder to achieve.

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So I’ve begun the new regimen… it’s still too early to see results, but I can tell you, those aching muscles during the two days after a workout are a killer. I mean it. I hobble around like an old woman in pain moaning and groaning. Having to sit down and get up is particularly challenging…and don’t get me started on climbing the stairs. I went to the toilet and felt like I was going to have to call for a crane to lift me up and down. I’m really starting to hate exercise. How long will this pain go on? I think I’d rather keep my added padding and forgo the torture. That is, until I get dressed and my clothes are hugging a bit too tightly.

I swing from depressed, to feeling ugly, to determined and motivated at the flip of a coin lately. It’s hard to write when your belly hits the table, constantly reminding you that it’s time to trade in your wardrobe for the next size up. Or your friends are worried you’ve fallen pregnant ‘at your age.’

Sheesh. When did I get so worried about the way I looked? Where is my female empowerment?

fit-for-writing-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleIt’s really got nothing to do with other people finding me attractive, or fitting into a certain dress size, or hitting a particular number on the scale. It’s about being able to bend over and tie my shoe, being able to step easily into my nickers, and not have them ride up uncomfortably to unmentionable places, wedged in by slabs of cellulite. It’s about feeling vital and young, about that headspace that is clear of doubt and a nasty voice calling you fat and ugly. It’s about me.

That’s half the challenge –getting over your own crap. Finding the motivation to keep going. Even though it’s getting harder, bit by bit you can get there. Soon the clothes will fit, you’ll feel better and productivity will rise because you are happier. But you could be happy as you are without losing the weight, if you can change your attitude. Though it is hard when society’s beauty standards are thrown in our face every second in a modicum of ways.

There is so much wrapped in my head in trying to shed these pounds.

The other part is time. If I am a writer, I should be spending the bulk of my day writing. But daily chores, marketing, blogging, socialising, and of course, now exercising, keep demanding attention. It adds further frustration and impacts on my frame of mind when I stare at a blank page. Who needs this typhoon of detritus spinning in their mind when they are trying to focus on their manuscript? Not me. No sir. It’s enough to turn me to drink. Another champagne thank you!

I’ve written a few articles on health and fitness, and a few about time management – all focused around my headspace, wellbeing, and time for following my passion. And let’s face it, I’ll probably still drop an article here and there on the same topic, because the problem will still be here. It’s a part of life, and we can’t write it away. Though writing about it does help release some negativity, remind me what is important, and keep the issue in perspective. I choose to never give up, keep striving for that balance. For that fulfillment. Sometimes it’s hard work, but I’d rather keep my eyes on the horizon than stare at the ground around my feet and go nowhere.

So, to all of my fellow writers out there who stumble across roadblocks, stay strong!

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Good writing doesn’t equal good speaking

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Chasing my dream as a writer has lead to some unforeseen side effects – my conversational skills have turned to mush.

Writing is a solitary endeavour. I spend days on end alone at my keyboard tapping away. Ideas flow and when I’m typing out sentences and if I can’t quite think of the word I want to use, I can type “?????” and come back later when the word pops into my head, or when reviewing with the aid of a thesaurus.

It doesn’t work so well in real life. You kind end up resembling this…

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The looks I get. People stare at me in tortured delight, like I’m having some kind of seizure. It’s like my brain is on auto-correct as I search for the perfect word to convey my desire. So I simply stop mid-sentence. A prolonged pregnant pause. Or start listing synonyms like in the thrall of Tourrets.

And thus begins the start of a long list of things which jump up like road blocks – just to make my conversation a little more interesting…

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle.gifAt times, especially if I am particularly nervous, I’ll catch on a certain word, like a CD skipping, in a weird stutter of half pronounce words, desperately trying to catch up with my train of thought before I realise I sound like a Martian. I almost hear my Grandmothers voice reminding me “elocution darling. Use your words.” Thanks Grandma, it’s not like I’m not freaking out enough at the sound of my own voice, bringing the attention to the fact I can’t string two English words together isn’t helping. Go tell Grandad the magpies are stealing his cherry tomatoes again and leave me alone.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle.gifBut a much worse malady occurs far too often – the nervous giggle. Only because it’s infectious, spreading like a virus through the room as other people chime in with return laughter. Before you know it, everyone has devolved into fits of laughter – which doesn’t bode well for me, because I have two types of laugh: the silent scream, where I look like I’m laughing, but someone has hit the mute button; and then the donkey bray, a wheezy shriek punctuated with a snort. Not the most elegant of chuckles. And of course, people laugh at my laugh, which makes me laugh. And the cycle continues until one of us has to pee, passes out, or begin to cough and choke. Believe me when I say this is no exaggeration. It really happens. I’m a great trick you drag out at dull and boring parties to get people in the mood.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle.gifDon’t get me started on nervous scratching, constantly playing with my hair or shuffling paper. My hands just won’t stay still. In the past I’ve had to grip on to the table or sit on my twitching fingers so I don’t look like I’m currently high on ADD medication. If I’m more relaxed, it’s great… if you don’t mind me channelling some Italian old man, sentences running over each other in increasing volume, punctuated by arm waving, flapping and pointing. Yes, conversational semaphore. Clear all glasses and breakable objects from the immediate vicinity, I’m a clumsy excited dope.

Good Writing does not Equal Good Speaking Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.gifAnd finally (thank goodness it’s only happened once – and I learnt my lesson) unintentional displays of magic. Note: when clearing breakable objects, remove all vacant chairs around me as well. While giving an oral presentation at high school, I was so nervous, I ended up sitting back on the teacher’s desk to try and calm down as I spoke. Boy was I wired and felt like I was about to explode. Starting my speech, everyone seemed wrapt, but felt it was going well. I kept my eyes glues to my cue cards, and powered through. Until people began twittering. Had I said a joke? Then it happened again, more sniggering. Oh crap! Was there food on my teeth, did I leave my fly down? What in tarnation was going on? Cue the fidgeting, stuttering and giggling… until the teacher called a halt to the torture and informed me of what was so funny: I’d hooked my feet under a chair in front of me and began to lift it up and down. Behold this magical levitating chair! I seriously had no idea that was what I was doing. Did my legs get possessed ‘Evil Dead’ style in dastardly a plan to send my English grade point average plummeting?

I was a bit of a legend in high school for that magic trick.

Fast forward four years and I’m back in the classroom as a teacher. Still just as nervous, but learned to cope with all the ticks I’ve just listed. But now that I’ve been out of practice, apart from the occasional conversation with my dog, my skill have waned. Once again those annoying habits are appearing, and it may sound funny, but it seriously damages my credibility. I’m supposed to be a well-educated professional writer, and there I am pausing, glitching and breaking things wile I laugh nervously… not something you want to be doing in front of your publisher. So thank goodness for the digital age where I can conduct most of my business via email and blame the freeze in conversation on skype as the signal dropping out.

In the meantime I might have to get some teddies set up along my couch and practice – but make sure the web cam is off. I don’t want to go viral as the crazy lady having a teddy bears picnic.

Who else suffers social clumsiness while trying to speak in public? What’s the worst (and funniest) case of ineptitude you’ve had? I love amusing stories: it lets me know I’m not the only klutz in the world.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Week Away (which means no NaNoWriMo for me)

Old high school friends visiting that I’ve known for years, an underwater walk with sharks, and venturing across the tundra at Australia Zoo.

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I was thinking about scheduling some posts for my week away from the keyboard, but it turned out I was too busy getting the guest house ready for visitors – my place was like an episode of ‘The Block.’ I was running around buying styling items, painting, assembling furniture, covered in all manner of dirt, dust and hues of paint. And I never knew my body odour could get so bad… peeeyouuu!

But the space looks fantastic and I’m very proud of the effort.

So instead of creating prose at the computer this week I’ve been staying up late with a glass of champagne reminiscing over high school days, giggling at our antics, and catching up with each other’s lives until late into the night. The days have been filled with wildlife. Sea Life Mooloolabah is a huge favourite of mine – my Marine Biology roots express themselves and my friends and family get a personalised tour through the exhibitions, regaled by my stories of encounters in the wild. I may or may not embellish for artistic and humorous purposes… that’s just the way I roll. Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin’s brainchild) was fun, and attending in the off season, means no lines, plenty of time to stand gazing at the wonderful animals without getting jostled for a prime viewing spot from pushy tourists. Its open plan, ornate gardens and massive statues give a great ambience to the zoo experience. There are no cramped cages and unhappy animals here. Most are rescued or unable to be released into the wild due to being bred in captivity – not that I’m a stout activist, but it is reassuring that the animals are benefiting from care here rather than being abducted from the wild for our amusement.

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Today we just got back from a rainforest walk to the local waterfalls, which was great to spot all the kaleidoscope hued tropical parrots and parakeets and a chance at glimpsing some platypus in the wild (lil’ buggar was too fast for me to snap a quick pic). The only down fall – my hayfever and being covered in sweat from a muggy day – I so wanted to “accidentally” fall into the water at the falls, but forgot to bring a towel and wasn’t about to treat other bushwalkers to this winter padded body.

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After life in the city, moving up into the mountains dotting the coastline has left me with a renewed appreciation for flora and fauna and is always a peaceful and inspiring backdrop for writing.

So if you were wondering where my regular posts were this week – I’ve been renovating, and then got lost in nature. I’ll be back to regular posting in the next day or two, refreshed, revitalised and feeling greatful.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Naked Man Covers

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Shirtless men, hot men barely dressed flexing muscles… when I see them on book covers I get a small amount of titillation – but also get turned off…

Romance, erotica, and contemporary novels have become inundated with pictures of buff young guys in various states of undress (or completely starkers.) And while I appreciate the male form and get some A-grade eye-candy, or some fun from an occasional oggle. It puts an ironic smile on my face to see them adorn my favourite things.

While sometimes the attractiveness of the cover model will entice me to peek between the covers. (What am I looking for – a naughty look under his clothes? Saucy firsthand knowledge of his lovemaking skills?) Most of the time it’s when I’m browsing online. I’d never pick it up in a book store! That’s way too embarrassing. It might label me as the needy girl who only reads erotica… how dumb is that?

naked-man-covers-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleAnother aspect to the scantily clad musculature of the male figure decorating literature is the fact that it practically yells “BUY ME!” Like a desperate attempt to get you to reach into your purse and fork over the money. Like you bought the guy all for yourself. There’s a word for that…

So now, after such over-exposed collection of title after title, I get turned off pretty man covers. Maybe I’ve been desensitized?

It’s a little embarrassing, and a lot insulting being barraged by so much skin as a selling point. This objectification is mostly romance, erotica, contemporary and some YA. Ultimately, if the cover art has become the most unimaginative way to market a book. And this girl ain’t buying.

Can’t we find some more artistic photography? Or symbolism? Or Typography? I don’t want to sound like a snob, but this types of cover art feels a bit low-brow and does little to convey the concept of the plot within its pages, other than one of the protagonists (or the love interest) is a hunky guy. I want more than that from my reading material.

I’m not having a rant, rather just observing trends in the market. I’ve seen other covers that are stunning which do not have a parts of the male form, airbrushed, adorning the dustjacket. Usually they depict something intrinsic to the plot, something that makes me pick up the book for a closer look. Books that are character driven and not a collection of scenes of intimate encounters. I like a ‘hot-damn’ moment as much as the next girl, but I want a build up of ambience, some tension, angst, wooing. As well as an interesting storyline.

Naked man covers, while sexy and alluring, don’t scream “intelligent plot and interesting characters” to me. Oh my gosh – am I becoming an elitist! Shoot me now!

What’s your take on overt sexuality on book covers – is it getting too much or can’t you get enough?

It might be great with the objectification of men rather than women for once, and I do enjoy a hottie now and then, but shouldn’t we mix it up?

Food for thought – something to think about when you purchase your next novel – what part does the cover play in adding it to your shopping cart…

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bloggers Beware!

The shine got taken off posting to my blog recently when I found someone had stolen my identity…

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I love blogging, sharing stories, recommending great books, but in the past weeks all of my enthusiasm for this activity was soured when I came across a new blog. It only had one book review, which was intelligent, cited, and made some really good points. But on closer inspection, total click bait, posting links to other websites. And to make it worse, listed my details as the author – including links to all of my personal social media.

bloggers-beware-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleI just about threw up in my mouth. It was like a large block of ice formed in my stomach. I could barely believe what I was looking at. I clicked around on everything, to make sure it wasn’t some type of computer error and ensure I could duplicate the results. But it was legit. Legit piracy. The author of the site had totally hijacked my identity.

It looked innocent enough, but where would it stop? It was endorsing other websites I certainly had no knowledge of, or interest in. It was reviewing a book I’d never read… and suddenly the prospect of my identity in the hands of a stranger had my nerves in knots.

As my best friend said ‘That’s just not cricket.’

I got the site taken down by the end of day, it took reporting it to WordPress admin, Gravatar Copyright Division, and the regulation board, and a firmly worded comment to the owner of the site explaining my actions and readiness to take legal action.

It turns out the site author took it down pretty quickly.

The whole experience left me a little gun-shy about posting for a while.

My social media is secure; they had never hacked any of my accounts. But someone had started a new blog, listed my information and linked it to my platform. That’s some audacious human being. So, just a polite warning to my fellow bloggers out there – be vigilant, check out the author of blogs and articles you’re liking to make sure they are legit. We need to keep our community ‘real’ and sift out fakers posting clickbait.

This is meant to be a fun safe place to share our thoughts and writing, and though it has been somewhat sullied by this experience, I still enjoy blogging and will continue.

bloggers-beware-pic-04-by-casey-carlisleI guess this was the best type of scare to give me a kick in the butt to overhaul my security (and privacy) online. Change passwords frequently, and use ones that are hard to guess. Use numbers and characters, change cases. Don’t list or broadcast too much personal information. Occasionally do a search on yourself, or your image. It’s not an ego thing – it’s protecting your identity/brand. Choose to have added steps in authentication for your sites. I know it sounds painful and unnecessarily drawn out, but it is definitely worth it. If someone does hack your account or steal your identity to ‘catfish’ and are particularly stubborn; the lengths you have to go to to protect your content or image may be stressful, lengthy, and in some cases if legal action is taken, expensive.

Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations of the medium you post your content to – and the avenues you have for appeal and policing.

It’s simply the other side of having a presence on the internet we all have to be aware of.

So after you’ve done all of the boring stuff you can get back to being creative, sharing your thoughts and revel in writing again with the knowledge that you are protecting your stuff.

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Happy writing and take care out there…

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Please stop! I want to get off!

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Spinning, spinning, the world is shooting past at break-neck speed and all I can do is dig in, hold on tight and hope I don’t get flung off before I can get to the end of the ride.

I’m still staring at the calendar in disbelief that October is here already. I see how much time is left of 2016 and then gaze over the monstrous ‘To do’ list and have a mini freak out. Have I been sitting on my expanding posterior all year?

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The truth is, no I haven’t. Upon review, I’ve been accomplishing quite a great deal, in writing, editing, reading, and other stuff called life of less importance. It’s the addition of death and funerals, major house renovations, health issues, and the state of being human which has heaped a large helping to my plate – I’ve been gorging myself!

So I’m having a slightly delayed mid-year freak out.

please-stop-life-getting-in-the-way-by-casey-carlisleIf you have read any of my previous blogs centred around my writing life, or life in general, you’ll know I’m a big list maker. I love setting massive goals, and am a little OCD about getting things done. What I wasn’t prepared for was the continual addition of other bits and pieces preventing me from reaching my rather lofty writing goals.

It’s now the third year in a row I’ve experienced mystical happenstance of “life” and it’s getting ridiculous. Is the universe playing some practical joke on me? Universe?

I’m not some big adventurer, or have a demanding, high-stress career; and I moved to the Sunshine Coast to simplify life and concentrate on writing full time. I have a time limit to reach a modest goal, because if I fail to meet said goal, I’ll be returning to full time employment. (That’s the deal I made with myself) I’m confident about breezing over the finish line, but I was expecting to have more done this far into the journey. I haven’t had so much happen to me with in a few years. Like, ever!

Did the Universe conspire – right, this girl looks like she could handle more, let’s shake it up a bit.

I wish I had the power to stop time, or travel back in time, or work fast like The Flash, maybe the ability to duplicate myself, and have clones working on other projects simultaneously. There is never enough hours in the day. Especially with the extra helping of other life stuff which have nothing to do with writing…

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When I look back over the past five years, it’s been five deaths in the family, one each year, two relocations, one redundancy, and a number of road trips across Australia. I’m not whining or having a rant, I just think I’m taken a little aback at what’s been going on. Am I at that stage in my life where relatives start dropping like flies, the body starts to show it’s wear and tear, and just about everything you own needs to be replaced, renovated or restored? No wonder people have a mid-life crisis when the world starts to crumble around you. But I’m optimistic. It’s an instrument for change, for new exciting challenges… and ultimately inspiration for my writing. I’d never written about grief or loss, I’d never described some of the landscapes and experiences I’ve recently had.

It’s all good!

So while I’m loving life, embracing change, Universe, can we please hit pause on dropping those bombshells? While I’m enjoying the feast of wonder you are providing, I just want to finish a bit of writing before the next adventure.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Outback sleepovers (it’s called camping people)

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In a world where glamping is the ‘in’ thing today, back in the ‘80’s, growing up in the desert, one of the things we did for fun (and to get away from the parents) was good old fashioned camping.

You only had to travel five minutes out of town to find a spot if you wanted to – there’s not much as far as facilities outside of Alice Springs. Smack bang in the centre of Australia, surrounded by bush and desert. So, as teens if we didn’t go ten-pin bowling, attend a Birthday Party, have a video night, hang out at the Truck Stop, or visit the Speedway on a Saturday Night (alternatively, there was the Drive-Inn… yep there were no cinemas in those days – the fun was seeing how many people you could fit into your car, admission was $10 per car. After we parked up, it was like a circus automobile with dozens of teens exiting and heading to the cafeteria before the matinee started) In a small town everyone knew everyone else, so if you wanted to get up to no good – you needed to go bush!

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Our idea of debauchery was gossiping and telling ghost story’s around the campfire… and maybe partaking in whatever booze we could get our hands on. Which usually consisted of bag wine, West Coast Coolers, or Port. Oh how times have changed, I’d sooner stick my arm up a Yeti’s bum than partake in any of those beverages these days. But what can I say, we were teen rebels! Sometimes we’d also play Spotlight. Which is a form of tag, or touch-chasey in the dark, where the person who is “in” has a handheld torch and it’s everyone else who hides and tries to get close enough to touch the torch bearer (and hopefully scare the pants of them as well) without being “spotted” by a beam of light.

I’m undecided if these nocturnal activities sound lame or not. I think I’d still prefer such idiotic fun over scrolling through social media feeds on a phone for hours. The only thing that could entice me away was a good book. But hey, I am a huge nerd. #nerdpride

Taking anywhere between one and four cars, packed to the top of the windows with food, bedding, water and contraband, we’d randomly head off in a direction away from the prying eyes of our parents. Little brother’s in tow (usually the payoff for some bribe to keep his mouth shut from witnessing a previous indiscretion.) And we were free!

Usually our campsites were pitched in or around the numerous dry riverbeds that meandered the landscape. Our outback sleepovers were always eventful. It meant flirting with your crush (however ineptly in my case), and we could make as much noise as we wanted – no adults to tell us to keep quiet. Yay!

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But the outback is fraught with perils: poisonous snakes and spiders, large goanna’s, and other four-legged wildlife. We were survival savvy though, and nothing nasty ever interrupted our partying. The only notable incursions took the form of a dingo, riffling through our belongings as we slept, and took particular favour to my leather camera case… there were bits and pieces scattered everywhere when we woke the next morning. And the canine perpetrator sitting beside the car patiently waiting for another morsel when we cooked our (usually inedible) breakfast. Of course I had to wail “A dingo took my camera case” for a few laughs (if you don’t get that joke google Lindy Chamberlain.) Another encounter, and one that could have been dangerous in hindsight, was when we woke to find ourselves surrounded by cows. Close to a hundred of them. I opened my eyes to find a bovine staring back, stupidly chewing its cud, threatening to drop a huge gob of saliva on my forehead. We literally had to push the ambivalent things away, careful not to spook the herd and avoid getting trampled. Thank goodness no-one was stepped on overnight.

It was all in a night’s fun for this outback girl, until we discovered how to get fake ID’s and hung out at the only club that would permit us entry… but that’s another story.

I miss my friends, and our (mostly innocent) fun, and look forward to a reunion of the old gang later in the year – maybe I’ll dredge up some more humorous anecdotes to share… watch this space!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Prompts and Getting the Job Done

I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block – I’m quite capable of getting words on paper. What I struggle with is completing projects…

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, I get bombarded with ideas for other books or writing projects. So much so I have an extensive back catalogue of things to write, manuscripts to finish off. But my list of completed projects is dismally low. So I try and find ways to keep the momentum and inspiration going to get to the point where I can finally type “The End” but it’s not always easy.

Here are the top ten ways that have helped:

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Basically re-immersing yourself into the story.

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This also helps me in developing plot, character and arcs… I like to think of it as dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.

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In the past on a certain W.I.P, the creative flow just stopped. I could have kept on writing to the scripted plot, but the narrative was becoming uninteresting, and I was finding it hard to keep the motivation going for the project. So I daydreamed about a number of what-ifs, and ended up with a major story arc that added the zing I was looking for to complete the story. So sometimes it pays to step back from your plot and ‘pants’ it for a while – you may turn up storytelling gold.

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I always have a collection of things for a writing project. Pictures of people for the cast, high school timetables to track the passing of time in the YA novel, snapshots of places, rooms, a collection of dialogue and quotes… I like the tactile experience in world building before I even start to plot out my story. Live in that headspace for a while, that way penning out my story comes very easy. And when I need to re-visit that place to stir up my creative juices, or think through a roadblock, it is easy to step back in to my characters’ world and tap in to some mojo.

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Some of my best ideas have come out of a conversation on my W.I.P. – even at the conceptual stage. You need to stimulate your creativity, and bouncing ideas of others is a great way to gauge if you are on to something or not. Plus, if you’re talking to the type of person who is your demographic, it’s a double whammy of goodness – market research and inspiration in the same place!

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This always gets me going. Designing an interim book cover and promotional material helps to build realism that the manuscript is drawing to a close. It also helps switch your brain into marketing mode. A sentence that would be a great quote with a picture, or a tag line for your book. Eye-catching images or graphics for websites or title pages. It also helps you to view your manuscript objectively – identifying the key components that are great hooks for selling your book – a ballsy heroine, an underwater seascape, a new magic system, an epic love story… these will become very important when you are getting to the stage of pitching and publishing your work.

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I suffer from an all-too-fast brain, and slow fingers. I can never type fast enough. And often skip parts of the narrative that put my story in context so it all makes sense. Like I was talking about the landscape whizzing by my main character in one scene, but neglected to state she was driving in a car – otherwise someone could have assumed she’d suddenly developed the ability to fly… most of the time it’s little obvious things like that you pick up after taking a hiatus from your manuscript. Beta readers can also provide this kind of feedback, but I like to have my work as polished as I can get it before handing it over for critique, so I can focus on flow, pace, character development, relatability, engagement, and predictability.

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I get a buzz when I can tick off a box. And with a novel being such a massive project that can last (in some cases) years, getting that high from a small milestone in the process is invaluable to keep the motivation going. Plus, I am always working on more than one project at a time, and it helps me to track where I am on each manuscript at a glance.

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Many, many times I’ve seen that glazed look fall over people’s faces when they ask me what I’m writing. I’m so excited, I just keep rabbiting on and on… So a succinct, attention-grabbing pitch – A SHORT ONE – is key! Working on it early gives you time to fine tune it and test it out on family and friends, because when you start to deal with the public (potential customers) and industry professionals (agents and publishers) you know you’ll have it down pat and can speak with confidence. It also helps to stop you from veering off on tangents with your plot if you ‘pants.’

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For some, this can feel like being dragged over broken glass. It’s foreign and scary. But if you want to be a career writer it is imperative that you educate yourself about the industry. Look into how a book is made, the types of finishes, what end pages are; What agents you could contact for representation and what their guidelines for submission are. Publishing houses that market books similar to what you are writing, and what they do to promote them. Send out samples to editors to find the one that works best with you (and in a price range you can afford). Collect promotion and marketing ideas – there’s a lot of things you can do yourself that cost nothing but your time. You NEED to have your own marketing plan; a publisher will not do all the work for you. Check out local resources, writers’ groups, bookstore launches… the list is only as limited as your research.  It’s important for you to know what sells, how it sells, and how to navigate the professional landscape you’ll be entering once you’ve completed your manuscript. Handing over your novel to a publisher, or self-publishing online alone will not return many sales. You’ve put all that work into writing a masterpiece, do it some justice and make sure you give it the best opportunity to shine.

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Every little bit helps 🙂

Happy writing and all the best on your journey!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Making a difference in the world

After going into remission from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma a number of years back, and deciding not to return to teaching, I was staring at my Bucket List – and the item I’d scrawled out at some stage: Make a difference in the world.

What exactly did I mean when I wrote that in a chemo addled daze? Nonetheless, I want to complete everything on my list. It keeps me accountable. Keeps me on my toes and questioning if I am getting the most out of life – finding happiness and not falling into routine and contentment.

Making a Difference in the World Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.gifI may have meant my entry as some big gesture. Altruistic. Like passing on some profound knowledge, or some big public spectacle for the greater good. I may have daydreamed of possessing a super power or unlimited funds in my bank account ‘You get a car, you get a car, and you get a car

But now, I prefer to think it means to help change the world and attitudes around me for the better through a number of small ways:

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Entertaining people. Making them laugh, smile, or whisking them away to some make-believe place for a while to enrich their imagination. Being the class clown growing up, I was always cracking jokes, falling down, narrating Mum and Dad’s actions with fart noises; sometimes going as far as dressing the dogs up in my clothes and walking them down the street. I wanted to share the love, the fun… and get a little be of attention. Now that I’m an adult and many of those activities would have me locked up in a Sanatorium, that exorbitant, over-active mind for the fantastic is used for writing prose. Which I pray at least one person will find mildly amusing and somewhat entertaining. We all need a little escapism sometimes.

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Meeting new people, sharing my story hoping to inspire and in some way – help them on their own journey. It could be through getting involved in their lives, or it could be something as simple as a smile to brighten their day. I get told a lot that I should write a book about my life. I’ve conquered some big events, accomplished many things and tried different careers and places to live. But that’s just my itchy feet always wanting to try something new, strive for excellence. I don’t really think my life is that amazing or different. Maybe I’m more vocal about it. The thought of writing an autobiography sounds boring (and it’s far from over yet)…

Dear Journal, today I overcame the fear that I have a fat bum, squeezed into a pair of jeans and ventured out into the world to do some shopping and decided that people weren’t looking at me because I am weird, but that I am beautiful… and that isn’t toilet paper stuck to the heel of my shoe.

I know I’ve been thrown a fair number of curve balls in my life, but you just get on with things. So if hearing my story helps someone get through theirs, I’m all for it. Plus, a giggle along the way always makes a situation less scary and dire.

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I like to pass on whatever knowledge I’ve garnered in this life. Knowledge should be free. It’s the teacher in me. Whether it be through my blog, conversation, or tutoring. Sharing knowledge gives independence… and it’s something I’m passionate about. I’m a student of life and love new adventures, experiences, and discovering things in books.

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It shouldn’t matter the colour of your skin, how much money you have, who you love, everyone should be valued for who they are. And so I like to show them acceptance, tolerance, love and mutual respect.

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Yeah it’s all a bit idealistic, but embodies the idea I had when I thought I may be leaving this world. It showed me what was important – and the things I valued the most when I thought it was the end…

I’m not perfect, sometimes I falter, but then I can always look at my list. Remember when I was in a hospital bed and wished I could do something… and so I am. And hey, these ways are so simple anyone can do them!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.