Active voice – in health and writing

Active Voice Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

A short life update from a writer, taking a break from other book related content.

From the start of the year I challenged myself to start making writing a priority again. I mean I was always writing, but over 2017-18 my habits had strayed from my goals. Distracted by creating online content, bidding for copywriting jobs, and last Christmas when I took stock of my progress, it depressed me a little. So 2019 is all about prioritising and finishing projects. Also about my health. Since taking on this penmanship dominated career, my weight had dramatically increased, and my stamina for any type of physical activity dropped.

Active Voice Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleSo that’s the reason my activity on this blog has decreased a bit. I’m out there living life. Going to the gym, concentrating on writing, and finishing a number of projects I’ve been half-way through for years.

It’s working! I’ve had success with my body mass index shrinking, my strength increasing – and a lovely side effect is I feel energized and clear headed for writing. A creative career has a lot to do with stimulation – if you’re not feeding your imagination (and keeping your brain at optimal health) it will start to stagnate.

So I’m enjoying my new push of productivity. Though I have to admit, I feel a little guilty that I’m not reading as much, and consequently not posting reviews as often. I also loved researching writing topics for posts; and again, I have little to no time for that right now.

This is pretty much a mid-year(ish) check in. Not quite where I want to be with writing achievements, but it’s better than it has been in years. I feel healthier. I’m socialising more. Even today, after three solid days of non-stop rain, I’m out on the balcony writing and feeling positive, happy, and productive. Music by Andrea Kirwan in the background supplying the perfect atmosphere for the flow of words.

To all my fellow writers – keep up the struggle, find that balance, and push those book babies out into the world.

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. 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.

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Frustrating reviews

Frustrating reviews Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I love reading book reviews – getting insights into books before I buy, getting recommendations… but there are some reviews that I have to skip… lest I die from excessive eye-rolling.

Without ranting or bashing how people review their favourite reads – because it’s a free country and you do you… more power to you. But here are my pet peeves with some of the reviews I’ve seen in my feed that keep me scrolling past:

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Skip.

If I want a summary of the book, I can read the blurb, or visit Goodreads. And if I should be so compelled to read the subject of your review, I want to know why. How about you feed me some nuggets of wisdom.

Frustrating reviews Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle This is just lazy. And insulting to the author. They spend years writing and honing prose for your enjoyment and you reduce a critique to broken sentences. Book reviews are mostly read by fellow lovers of the literary universe, I’m sure they don’t mind reading full sentences with correct grammar – I mean isn’t that why we read books in the first place? A little effort to add some eloquence to your opinions would be greatly appreciated. It also shows, that you know your stuff if you can write – I might take your views a little more seriously.

Frustrating reviews Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle If I go to the point of subscribing and heading to a blog to follow reviews, it’s because I’m interested in in-depth discussions, varied opinions, great recommendations. So don’t be afraid to elaborate, discuss, give examples, insights. Otherwise, stick to tweeting… How can you address characters, character development, writing style, predictability, opinion, plot line, pacing and other elements in a few short paragraphs? (No that is not a challenge) If you are going to review a book, I’d actually like a review, not a brief opinion with no critique to back it up.

Frustrating reviews Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle There the ones that rave and rave and rave about how fantastic the book is without actually saying why. Was it a relatable main character? The great action scenes? Vivid language to depict the landscape in which the novel is set? I want specifics people, not paragraphs of how excited you are.

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They seem to be the main culprits at the moment that have me grinding my teeth. But please don’t take offence to my post – it’s a guideline for the types of reviews that I like to read. It is by no means the gospel law on how to write a book review.

Comment below if you have any pet peeves from book reviews you’ve seen…

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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.

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.

Sneezes are scary!

Ben hides from sneezes by Casey Carlisle.JPGI have to admit, my sneezes are not the most delicate in manner. I sound like a tradie who’s whacked his thumb with a hammer. They are loud, violent, and my voice drops into the low register. It’s a shout-sneeze.

Totally unbecoming.

But I generally crack myself up laughing afterwards. I can’t control it. Especially other people’s reactions to this suddenly unexpected display. It’s a great gag in the doctor’s waiting room.

But my huggy-fluffy-cuddle-bunny furbaby does not like them. He’s so placid, and calm. Loves to curl up next to me or on my lap when I’m reading or writing the next chapter of my book, but every time I sneeze he bolts to the other side of the house and hides under a table or his blankie. Then I have to go find him. Apologise, and give him positive reinforcement that everything is okay.

I feel bad for giving him a scare, but I really can’t help it.

No wonder he has a heart condition.

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© 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.

I love the rain, but hate thunder.

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Caring four our cute puppies when the heavens open up.

I Love the Rain but Hate the Thunder Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgOur local news has been commenting about dogs going missing from a week full of thunder storms not too long ago, warning pet owners to ensure their yards are secure. The thought of my little furbabies out in the cold and wet, terrified, just about brings a tear to  my eye – they are so cute and lovable, I’d do just about anything to ease their distress or pain. Whenever I can’t find my puppy, it’s like a dramatic animated Walt Disney movie.

Thankfully, just rain alone has no effect on my pooches, but add in thunder and lightning… well it’s an entirely different story.

If I’m reading or writing and there’s a soundtrack of grumbling heavens, then I’m often accompanied by a slobbering, shivering dog on my lap. He looks up at me with big brown eyes praying for a hug. Growling or barking at the sky when it does the same. I think it’s kind of cute, but I always end up with a wet lap and feeling like I sat on top of the dryer. However if I’m asleep in bed, he chooses to sit on my head. It gives a whole new meaning to bedhead and morning breath.

Though, I do love the smell rain brings, it always encourages me to write (& read), and I can’t tell you why… maybe it’s the comforting thought of rugging up inside with hot chocolate, cuddles from Mum, and orchid scented fabric softener on my linens that makes me feel safe, happy and warm. Pity that doesn’t extend to my dogs.

I wonder what they do in the same situation when I’m not home – the thought of them scared, under my desk, shivering all alone is awful. Lucky they have each other for comfort. I’ve witnessed them cuddling up together a few times when I’ve stepped through the door on a particularly miserable day.

My youngest furbaby, Baillie, loves to explore – he doesn’t need the excuse of a storm to escape. Thankfully thunder and lightning don’t seem to faze him; but I’ve spent many an afternoon calling out his name along the street where I live because there is just too many interesting things to smell and pee on. We are now on garden fence version 4.0!

Our new home on Sunshine Coast means more thunderstorms & less sound proofing. Plus, being in a remote area on a mountain, the thunder tends to reverberate through the ground and sky. So I get to have more shaky cuddles more often (along with the accompanying drool). It’s just a thing the Den Mother has to deal with.

So while summer showers are my favorite time to write – not so much for my four legged children. But it’s nice to have a writing companion, and hey, maybe he’s interested in my stories and can become my next editor. 😉

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Is it over yet?

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

© 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 habits to increase productivity

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Toss writing slumps out the window!

Weird Writing Habits Make it Real by Casey CarlisleWhen you get a brain fart or idea WRITE IT DOWN! After that, create a blurb, a character profile, design a plot or book cover. Start scrapbooking material for the idea to grow… the more material you have the greater chances you can pick up where you left off when it comes to do some serious writing. Feed your imagination, let it run free.

Talking over your ideas with a friend can also help stimulate the old noggin.

Weird Writing Habits Read by Casey CarlisleRead anything. It gets the brain box clunking and whizzing. You’ve heard the saying – the best ideas come when you’re doing something else? Well it’s true. Your grey matter is a muscle, if you don’t use it how do you expect it to run a marathon? Also, reading is like market research – especially critical reading. You see what works, what doesn’t, discover new words and ways to express yourself, and hey, you might actually have a bit of fun.

Weird Writing Habits Follow Blogs by Casey CarlisleYou can do this passively, reading bits and pieces of interest: it exposes you to the world of writing and publishing. Feeds relevant information you may never have heard of, and quite possibly offer important contacts to help you grow your career. I’ve found sources like WordPress and LinkedIn great.

Weird Writing Habits Word of the Day by Casey CarlisleI know it sounds really lame, but every now and then you learn something new, rediscover a great word… keep them is a folder and skim through just before you do a re-write or edit, you’ll be surprised at how much it can up your game.

Weird Writing Habits Set a Goal by Casey CarlisleWrite something every day – it creates habit, gets the juices flowing. It’s practice for making writing a career (or full time job if you are already writing). You’ll relate when I say, sometimes forcing out a few sentences (even if they are bad and you’ll delete them later) is like that first cup of coffee in the morning, it gives you the jolt you need to get going.

It’s best to have something to edit and improve on rather than continuing to stare at a blank page.

Weird Writing Habits Create an Environment by Casey CarlisleA space to help you write. This changes for me all the time. Sometimes it’s about sitting at a desk, like I’m in an office – other times it may be staying in bed, ultra-comfortable. Occasionally a trip outdoors, a coffee shop, the library, the airport or even public transport helps (change up your scenery). Lately, after moving from city to country, I no longer write late at night, but wake naturally around 5-6 am and get in a few productive hours (maybe it’s the fresh air or loud-ass birds, but either way I’ll take a good writing session wherever it comes).

Try different methods – typing, hand writing, voice recording… every little bit helps.

Weird Writing Habits Be Accountable by Casey CarlisleSet yourself goals. Talk about them with your friends, discuss your books – create an environment that makes it difficult for you to get away with crappy excuses for not writing. Plus if you hit a rough patch or suffer writers block, your friends may help you break through.

Set a date to have your next chapter completed. Even get a friend to keep you to it.

These are just some methods I use to help the momentum of writing. What things help you get into the flow? I’d love to learn new trick and tips.

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.

Bites, Blogging and Barfing

Bites Blogging and Barfing Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve had yet another brief hiatus from blogging – mainly due to another bout of food poisoning (seriously what is going on with restaurants around here?) I feel like I’ve really lucked out in my gastronomic explorations with 3 cases in the past 6 weeks. I’m a little gun-shy about checking out dining establishments now…

I also did some major gardening and landscaping. Feeling very proud of myself since I’m no green thumb, but it is satisfying to walk through the yard amongst brightly coloured flowers and solar lighting. It’s completely metamorphosed the place. It’s magical at night time. If it weren’t for the kamikaze mosquitos I may sit outside to do a little writing (oh well). I did sustain a gardening injury – and not from my usual incoordination – my guess is mites in the soil. I was bitten all up my arms, along the waist band of my pants and around the neckline of my shirt. There is also a few itchy spots on my face making me feel like a teenager with spots again. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but they are unrelenting, making me want to scratch constantly. So for the past five days I’ve been bathing in Calamine Lotion.

In amongst my digging, planting and technicoloured yawning, I managed to read another six novels and get some writing done on the sequel to Smoulder (Embers). So, I’ve been productive even though nothing has appeared on the blog for over a week. The Book Reviews will be coming hard and fast so I can catch up (watch this space), and looking forward to settling back into a routine with the warmer weather starting to ease in.

Bringing you some new material soon… in the meantime, happy writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.