Juxtaposition July – some extremes in reading… a wrap-up

Juxtaposition July 01 by Casey Carlisle

Can the world just back to normal please…

I was determined to get back on track with that goal-getting after an abysmal second quarter due to the virus-that-will-not-be-named and lockdowns. Starting the month of July with all the best intentions was soon waylaid with an unseasonal change in the weather that brought out a lot of Australian natives to flower in the bushland surrounding where I live. Bring on thumping headaches, scratchy voice, watery eyes, and a heavy dose of feeling sorry for myself. Given that I wasn’t feeling too flash, I thought I’d get a lot of reading done because that is my comfort space – curled up on the couch with a warm cuppa and a good book.

What eventuated was my best writing month so far for 2020, and my worst for reading…

I grappled with the headaches and blurry vision, along with two of the novels being more intense, or difficult to read, contributing to the low reading count. (Not to mention constantly falling asleep from antihistamines making me drowsy.) But I’m not mad at it. You need to roll with the punches and adapt. My writing was coming to a stall in May and June. Even though I was getting a word count in, when reviewing my drafts, it was missing the tone from the first five chapters. So rather than flog a dead horse, I made the decision to put it aside for a moment and work on something else – nothing worse than letting frustration colour your mood in a creative endeavor. My strategy worked. Even though I lost a week of work with family visiting (yay, I love catching up with the fam,) and a little more than another week with hay fever symptoms (at-choo, sniffle, sniffle,) in the remaining week and a bit I managed to pen out three chapters on a novel in development.

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That’s really all that I’ve been able to accomplish this month. Though we are not on tight lockdowns, the state is still closed to half of the continent. I have friends in Victoria restricted to their homes. We’ve seen a few cases of Covid-19 pop up locally. People getting arrested and jailed/fined for shirking border crossing restrictions. Teens throwing parties with more than 10 people have seen attendee fined up to $26,000 each. And nightclubs are being closed because no-one is obeying the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. It’s disappointing really, a few people I know have passed away from complications after contracting the virus. It just takes a little common sense and precaution to help us get past this and let things get back to normal. My flat-mate has only just been able to get back to work after 6 months where he was unable to earn an income. We are lucky, but there are so many of my friends who are still trying to secure full time employment and are in fear of losing their houses from defaulting on homeloans. But despite all of the pressure, most everyone remains optimistic. We are all here to help each other get through this.

The highlight of July has to be getting to play Canasta with my family… I know that sounds lame, but it’s an activity we enjoy because we get to sit around the dining room table on the balcony, take in the view of the coast, the ocean, soft breezes with a glass of bubbly, and cackle as we catch up on life. It’s about connecting with each other, spending time together rather than the card game. We used to do it over the Christmas holidays when I was a kid, so it invokes those memories as well. Feeling free and visiting new and exciting places as we caravanned around Australia.

Back to my reading: I really enjoyed ‘The Princess and the Fangirl,’ and ‘Wayward Son,’ though ‘Too Late’ was hard to digest. It dealt with themes of abuse, rape, drug dealing, and explicit sex scenes… a bit confronting and not the usual fare form Colleen Hoover. Plus I started reading Magda Szubanski’s memoir ‘Reckoning’ which deals with her family immigrating from Poland (via England) after surviving the war… the writing is beautiful, but it also deals with heavy topics that I need to let sit before I can read on. It’s not a book you can plough through. But I love the historical elements. I’m currently half way through and hope to complete in in August. So, those last two novels really slowed down my reading productivity. (Reviews for all the books I’ve read to come in the next month or so.)

I’m crossing my fingers that the hay fever won’t persist as bad as it was, because there is a pile of really exciting novels waiting on my coffee table, and the progress I’ve made with me writing has me amped up the keep on firing. So that slight change in direction has got me motivated and celebrating a great witting month. I hope to improve on the numbers in August! Bring it On!

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Oh, and I had to share this puppy dog cuteness – because abovementioned flat-mate has returned to work after so long, my furbabies waited patiently at the door during that first day, snuggled like bunnies, because they missed him. And they are adorable. I needed to distract them with lots of hugs and playing chasey around the house. I wonder how crazy the neighbours think I am, because all they would see through the windows in me running back and forth, waving my arms in the air, screaming and laughing all by myself.

 

How are you handling the impact of Covid-19? What roadblocks have you overcome recently to better your reading or writing goals?

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© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

What you doin’ there Buster?

I’ve been distracted from social media fun, posting, and writing in the last couple of weeks due to this face….

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Buster. The newest addition to my little family. And being a puppy, I have to keep my eyes on him 24/7 and develop octopus arms. Pull him away from chewing power cords, eating strange insects, going to the toilet in the wrong place. Having the fun of the first few nights at home where he wakes you up crying, scared of an unfamiliar place away from his litter. Waking you up at 3 am because he wants to play.

He’s the over-energetic silly-pants all puppies are. With super sharp teeth wanting to chew everything, running and pouncing with unco-ordination. Using my plait as a vine as he plays Tarzan swinging from my hair… or clothes… or anything else he can reach. At 10 weeks old, everything is a new exciting adventure.

Buster 11 Aug 2017.jpgWhen he is asleep he is adorable. And he loves his cuddles once he stops trying to masticate your fingers. A number of times I’ve found him asleep, curled up next to my sneakers or slippers, head buried in the open top like he’s trying to find a missing bone deep within my footwear. But he’s fast asleep, high on the fumes of toe jam.

Buster’s big sparkly eyes stare at you with fascination, and he’s just so little and fragile. I’ve been wanting to add a new canine family member to our troop since last year. We lost our two Maltese X dogs early last year to old age, leaving Baillie (the lovable pooch I inherited from my Mother when she passed away) alone and bored. He’s used to having playmates and was becoming anxious and destructive, especially at times when I had to leave him home alone. Hence the Cavoodle cutie Buster coming into our midst.

He’s definitely playful. Adorable. And just the right fit for our mountain-top family.

Now that Buster has settled in and I’ve puppy-proofed the house, I’ll be able to dedicate my time back to writing without having to search for him every few minutes to find out what trouble he may be getting into next… and I’m sure there will be many a funny tales he creates that I can share to any dog lovers out there on occasion.

These little furbabies enrich my life so much, love unconditionally, and fill an empty house with colour and excitement that makes it feel like a home.

Now if Buster can sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, he’ll become an Instagram star for sure 😉

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Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle

 

© 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.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness

Easter eggs + Triple-choc birthday cake = Heaven… and other reading/writing dilemmas

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I always love it when my birthday falls in the Easter holidays – when I was younger, it meant family holidays across Australia, or a big birthday bash with just about everyone I knew, which always evolved into a massive pool party. (We may have jumped off the roof into the pool – I admit nothing)

Maybe it is time for another blowout – but, with my oldest furbaby passing days earlier, all the party spirit vanished. Guess I’ll save the big celebration to next year? So this year it was a sombre affair full of chocolate and binge watching ‘The Walking Dead.’

I am also a big believer that birthdays should last a week long – so there is more fun activities in store… shopping, dinners, presents. So it’s not going to be a depressing ‘I’m so old!’ mess.

So consequently this blog was a little quiet over the past week. No apologies. I was mourning and taking a break to celebrate another year I’ve managed to cling to this rock hurtling through space. And enjoying chocolate in its various forms. It’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes.

So now it’s back to business as usual. Before my short hiatus I was enforcing some writing sprints. I really want to finish off some projects this year. In 2015 it was all about ideas and planning, so I didn’t feel like I was achieving much. But this year I want to have at least 5 novels off to the publisher. It’s not an unrealistic goal, with 2 in the final edit stage, and 2 near completion, and another 7 plotted and over 20,000 words, I know I’ll hit the mark. Just have to stay motivated and stick to that schedule. Make sure the time I’ve blocked out to write, I actually write.

Same with editing. I just need to get it done!

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I love it all. Writing, Editing. Blogging. Reading. Reviewing. It’s sometimes a challenge not to get distracted by any one thing and stick to the guide I’ve set for myself. On top of that, I am really interested in creating a Youtube channel around my experiences with literature. But it’s finding the type of content I want to create. I curl my lip at producing the same kind of thing that is already out there… boring. I’m not a “personality” and would like to do something that is entertaining and informative. I have a few ideas, but am stalled by perfectionism and the fact that the whole process is time consuming. At the end of the day I am an author, so the bulk of my time needs to go to writing rather than social media. Why can’t I have both my chocolate eggs and cake? I need more time in my day to achieve everything I want to. Progress always feels so slow because my expectations always exceed my ability. Grrrr!

There was no reading over the break either. Actually, I’m not too far off catching up on my reviews and being able to drop back to posting 1 or 2 a week; well, until I have another reading sprint…

Now maybe I’m still buzzing on my sugar high, but it’s forward at full speed, back to reviewing and writing feeling refreshed. Thank you chocolate. It has also made me aware of how important it is to take an occasional short mental break from writing. In the past I’d hit a wall and turn to a reading binge. Not that it’s bad, but I’m attempting to keep everything in balance and gauge my productivity. That way I will be certain of my writing habits and know how much material I can safely turn out in a given period of time. I feel it’s important to a career author to know how long it takes to write a novel. Publishers work to a timetable and like reliable artists to invest in.

A double whammy of chocolatey goodness Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

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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.

 

The Year of the Furbaby!

Year of the Furbaby Pic 01  by Casey Carlisle

Wishing everyone the very best for 2016!

Normally over the Christmas – New Year break, I’d be visiting family, lapsing into food comas, tidying up on a sugar high, or cackling the night away over conversation and champagne. But things have been a little different this year: I’ve had three sick puppies to mind, and spent just over a week sitting in waiting rooms of Pet ER’s

This is also part of the reason I’ve been absent from my blog for a few weeks.

I posted a few months ago about Ben, and his big heart. Now in the later stages of failure. So it wasn’t a surprise that he needed professional attention a number of times, but still it’s heart-wrenching. He has been giving me big puppy dog eyes and cuddles every day for just over 11 years. Ben still has that slightly awkward puppy gait that makes him seem more bunny rabbit than canine. It’s only going to be days to weeks before we have to say goodbye.

The other visit to emergency that just about floored me was Baillie, the lively pooch I inherited from Mum when she passed away 2 years ago. He hurt his eye, and though it didn’t look serious I rushed him to Pet ER not liking to see him in pain, and it being the holidays – all the regular Vet Clinics are closed. By that night he’d lost an eye from a fast developing ulcer.

Devastated.

Please take warning – eye injuries with dogs degrade so quickly. If you notice a hint of something wrong, seek medical attention immediately. Even though that is what I did, it could have been much worse.

Picking up Baillie after surgery was alarming – they’d shaved half his head, and with an eye stitched closed, head lolling to one side and tongue hanging out – it’s a sight no owner is prepared for.

He’s much better now, barging into things with his medical collar, not letting the ocular loss impede him in any way. He’s still my little adorable munchkin, but now have some new nicknames for him like Pirate, Cyclops or Winky.

Nonetheless, it has been wonderful to spend Christmas and bring in the New Year with my entire furbaby family. They have been loyal and loved unconditionally. I’ve made sure they’ve felt it back in return and given them all the doggy things!

So in honor of my fluffy little family, I’m declaring 2016 the Year of the Furbaby!

 

P.S. all that time in waiting rooms was well spent reading, so I have a large list of book reviews waiting to be uploaded, so keep an eye out for more biblio-fun coming your way soon 🙂

Year of the Furbaby Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Resting up with their Christmas toys after hospital visits

 

 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.

Granted!

I’ve had yet another reminder this week about not taking life for granted.

Granted Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleMy youngest furbaby, Ben, was rushed to the vet after a distressing night where his whole little body was pounding with an accelerated heartbeat, he was off his food and not his usual huggable self. I couldn’t sleep, I remained by his side the entire night gently stroking his fur distraught that I couldn’t do anything more to ease his suffering.

Even though he wasn’t in any pain, he was clearly uncomfortable. And no-one likes to see an animal stressed.

The local vet was amazing. I was strung out and tired, tears streaming down my face. I’d gone over every inch of Ben’s skin thinking it may be a paralysis tick or snake bite – but came up empty.

Well Ben is now back to his good old self and at home by my feet. He is the most plesant natured little pooch and so well-behaved.  Even the vet commented on his intelligence.

Ben has a big heart – literally. It’s common for small dogs of Ben’s breed to develop heart issues. And thank goodness the vet finally narrowed down the issue and stabilized his condition. Now I get to share more cuddles with my little polar bear. And he loves cuddles!

I remember wishing to the night sky for Ben to be alright. He’s part of my family – and as his proud parent it’s up to me to ensure his safety and comfort. I know I spoil all my dogs, but the unconditional love and support they give me is invaluable, and they deserve to be spoiled. The best of care. I’d been bed ridden for many months recovering from cancer, and these boys kept me calm, kept me smiling.

So I still have my cuddle bunny – wish granted.

Granted Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

I’ve said before, to live as close as you can to treating each day like it’s your last. It was never so important as it was this week. As devastated as I was at the thought of losing my canine friend, I didn’t have one regret about what we’ve shared. He’s been showered with love, seen most of Australia with me, got to eat marvellous things, sniff so many smells, he’s having a great doggie life. And I intend it to be even more fantastic.

Bless my little companion – and thank you.

Granted Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Muttly Mania by Casey Carlisle© 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.