What I read in 2017

I can’t believe January is already over… so much for posting my 2017 reads early *awkward*

Last year proved to be a year of distractions and interruptions, and consequently I fell short of my goal of reading 100 novels by 18 books. And I overall I read more books that I ended up rating lower because I was extending my reading habits out of my preferred genres and giving many new authors a go.

So, what did I read…

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And I’d have to say that my favourite book read from 2017 is ‘Gemina’ by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman which was the second novel completed that year.

I’m hoping that I can read more novels, and even more diversely this year… and maybe I’ll even give at least one book a 5 star rating (as in 2017, sadly, I did not award one.)

 

How did your reading year shape up? What was your favourite book from last year? Let me know in the comments below – I might just find my next outstanding read 😉

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. 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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Restricted to bed – doctors orders.

Reading, writing and blogging slumps means no fun for this girl. I hate getting sick.

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I’m not beating myself up in taking an occasional break to routine. Recharge my batteries. Having a mini adventure.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. Indulging in a family visit and having marathon Canasta games over a glass of champagne. Exploring local markets and shopping up a storm. Late night chats over a hot cuppa. It may sound a little boring and simple, but living on top of a mountain in isolation writing means human contact of any kind is like a packed underground dance party. It really does leave you happily satiated and ready to hit the keyboard again.

Except immediately after I got food poisoning, and then fell ill with the flu that has been sweeping across the Sunshine Coast. So what was meant to me a 5-day reprieve, turned into just over a month, most of it spent moaning and wondering ‘why me?’ I agonised for three days hugging porcelain, praying for my stomach to stop spasming. My little puppy was quite alarmed at my retching noises, and my constant nursemaid.

I have to admit, I have not gotten ill in quite a long time. Not since I have gotten over the aftermath of cancer and acclimating to fulltime work and the stresses it took out on a recovering body. In the last four years I may of had one day here or there feeling poorly, maybe with a headache or hayfever. Nothing a day of rest or a Panadol didn’t fix. But a bout of food poisoning and the flu brought back all the worst sense-memories of cancer treatment.

Mainly the nausea and unending praying while in embrace of the toilet bowl. Feeling weak and shaky, overtaken in a hot and cold sweats. Not the funniest way to spend three days… I couldn’t even indulge in reading quietly in bed. Light sensitivity had the lamps off and blinds down. I would’ve love to watch a movie, read a blog or even catch up on my email… but no, I lay there wafting in and out of sleep waiting for the rolling of my stomach to cease. Hoping I hadn’t stripped away all the lining from my throat. The flu continued most of these symptoms along with dizziness and a wheezy cough. Many, many slime filled tissues later… It feels glorious to finally be coming out the other end of this seasonal illness.

I embodied all those caricature sickies on television – hair like a birds nest built in a drug haze, baggy sweats, and a blotchy face from tissue abrasions. If anyone can stick around after seeing me like this – they’re a keeper!

About once or twice a year I find myself in a period where life happens with such intensity that I have no time left for writing, reading, or blogging. And this is coming from someone who religiously makes time for her craft every day. When I was finally able to sit down, clear headed and write, I was simply too exhausted. Even when I started to read, I’d manage maybe a page or two before nodding off.

In hindsight, I always boggle at the amount of work I could’ve completed in that time frame. I very much live to write… but it’s important to live to share, love, and experience too. There’s a balance in there somewhere, and I falter from one extreme to the other in hopes of living a full, happy life. Following passion and sharing happiness.

Does anyone else suffer from writers or readers guilt? Tell me I’m not alone.

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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.

No nudes at work.

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I swear a Google internet search is out to embarrass the heck out of me at times. Seriously, is there a little man at the other end of the line laughing his guts out as he slips inappropriate content into my search results? I like to hunt down images to include in my storyboards for works in progress. It helps flesh out the world building and characters for me.

Parental controls sometimes block content that I feel doesn’t need to be blocked. And, I’m not searching outright for adult material, so I am always surprised when confronting images pop up in my search results.

But recently I’ve been noticing a trend where pornographic content is increasingly slipping into the results. Yesterday I typed in “cow” and “farm” and about halfway down the page a number of full-frontal images of couples ‘doing it’ were on display. Even though I work in an office all alone, I quickly glanced behind me in shame. The same happened when I’ve typed in “romance” and “flowers.” What tha! I once got images of a girl performing fellatio after typing “buttons.” It was worse when I accidently typed in “drunk girl” into the search bar instead of in my document… my eyes just about fell out of my skull.

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I know I’m a little bit of a prude. But I can handle some titillation – I mean I’m an adult. I’ve seen things. But when you’re in the middle of typing out an article, or adding to that manuscript, and you’re getting a little graphic support and these explicit images jump out at you… well it’s unexpected. Shocking.

Needless to say, I’ve reviewed my parental controls a number of times, but something always manages to slip by every now and then.

It’s amusing at how the most random, unconnected phrase will result in some pornographic picture popping up in the search results.

I remember in one of my previous jobs in an open office plan. There were close to 80 of us on one floor at workstations, no walls. No partitions. It was easy to glance up at any given time and peruse many monitors. I used to get a lot of PowerPoint presentations to whip up, and doing image searches turned into a harrowing experience. Searching for images when the boss walks by and there’s a female presenting her rear like a baboon, pants down, facial expression like it was some kind of accident she was caught in such a compromising condition… yikes!

It is funny, almost slapstick, if you can roll with the punches and have a sense of humour. But there are some workplaces where something like this could have you hauled in front of Human Resources.

I dare not imagine what images would scroll up if I actually typed in something obviously graphic… I might have to wash out my eyeballs, or lose my lunch. I’m happy in my rainbows, unicorns and puppies bubble of positivity when I’m writing. Disturbing images give me a headache and have me wondering what kind of people are out there. Great ideas for horror or psychological thrillers when you’re building an antagonist. But I don’t need to be barraged by graphic content on a daily basis at work.

It’s not the search engines fault – if you do a bit of I.T. sleuthing, these images are being tagged with more and more mundane words in ways to trap a browser into visiting their website. It’s all about directing internet traffic. An unfortunate side of the internet – sprukers for dark net. I guess it’s to be expected. At your computer you can be exposed to the entire planet, both good and bad. It’s up to us to tailor what gets to pop up on our screen. And like story writing, those computer skills develop over time – or you simply develop a thick skin. Become desensitized and no longer ‘see’ that type of content.

I get a little worried about what our children get exposed to, and it reminds me to always be vigilant and monitor kids internet activity. Educate them about right and wrong and how to navigate those tricky situations online.  It’s better to be informed than ignorant I say.

Because isn’t it better to laugh about some random picture of a man dressed in leather with a gasmask on in the results when you type in “puppies” than start freaking out about the state of the worlds social morals?

 

What kind of random results have you gotten from an internet search that cause you to turn red?

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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.

The Importance of Taking a Break from Writing

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Taking in the big picture – Seeing what your publishing options are – And creating a marketing niche.

If you followed my post on the 16th of August, then you already know I’ve taken a hiatus from social media and writing, having to babysit a new furbaby to the family. Buster, a black Cavoodle has taken up much of my attention, getting him settled in his new home, (losing some sleep in the process), puppy proofing our abode, and general panicked running to whatever activity I want to discourage him from…. and then cooing over his cute moments of puppy unco-ordination and adorable snuggling.

It has also given me time to indulge in some reading, and leave my head clear to think of the direction of my career, personal life, and writing schedule. I think it’s important to take occasional holidays from writing. Leaving behind character development, plotting, and story arcs to stand back and look at the big picture. Not just of your work in progress, but life in general. A moment to decompress and re-assess and come back rested and fighting fit.

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I tend to get so focused on certain projects, it’s beneficial to enforce this metaphorical break and take stock of where I’m at, ensuring I’m still on track toward my goals – or even if those goals are still important to me. It’s very much like putting down your first draft and coming back to it months later with fresh eyes.

This stepping away from the keyboard has allowed me to keep updated with the publishing landscape. Leaving me with a decision to write something new, intending to release before my WIP; effectively as a test case for self-publishing. It will enable me to take that first-time learning process without risking my book-baby from naivety and inexperience. Even though I’m going down the road of traditional publishing, and have a company interested in my work, I feel it would be prudent to examine all my options. Plus there are certain types of writing that perform better in self-published e-book form than through the traditional publishing route. Especially in terms of return on investment.

Today, novellas are far more popular in e-book, as are certain genres, and many never see a printed page unless the series becomes highly successful and a bind-up proves viable for publishing. It’s getting that marketing hat on, and discovering the best road for your work.

I have been discussing this with my writing group. Aspects like releasing an anthology of short stories from various authors, to publishing with another industry altogether, tapping into a new market area: like including photography or art with your story. Referencing real-life periodicals or articles, expanding the definition of the regular book format. As with writing a story, publishing can be as limited as your imagination as well… and maybe funds.

We are even starting to see books released in parts. Rather than publishing a completed novel, authors are breaking it up into a number of smaller digestible chunks. Personally, I don’t prefer this method, but it does get around established publishing contracts; and if well-written can perform commendably. But in other cases, the part-release does not stand on its own because much of the story is not resolved, leaving the reader feeling like they’ve missed something. It can either be frustrating, or a great teaser to excite the reader into purchasing the next volume. It’s a bit of a crap shoot. The key is to know your demographic and their likes.

So taking a break can be a beneficial mind-expanding exercise to make yourself aware of what you can do after you’ve finished writing. What modes are available to you – or heck – what method you can invent yourself as a point of difference. In a publishing landscape where authors are breaking away from the traditional route of doing things, injecting much needed talent and creativity, it can only make the future pretty incredible. With so much of the world available at our fingertips it’s allowed us to redefine and expand what it is to be an author.

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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.

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.

Playing Dead

…the one where I kept getting stopped in the street by concerned neighbours thinking my dog has been run over by a car.

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Baillie, my little black and white Shi-Tzu loves going for walks. He is gun-ho all the way. We stop at every blade of grass to sniff and wizz on. We wave to people on the street and get lots of pats. Doting words of what a cute pooch he is. We may stop right in front of said people, or in the middle of driveways to do a big pooh that looks like Polywaffle chocolate bar – lucky I’m not embarrassed. Kids giggle. Adults pretend it’s not happening and move on. I come prepared with doggie bags and praise him for his ablutions… saves me getting interrupted while working with a warning bark at the back door – Toilet time Mummy!

And that’s how the afternoon walk progresses. Heavy panting and pulling on the lead this way and that. Smell. Wizz. Smell. Wizz. Squirrel!

Playing Dead Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle.jpgUsually we get home before he drinks half a bowl of water and collapses, blissful, satiated. Though on rare occasions, Baillie runs out of steam… and there he’ll sit. Decided he’s had enough. And he’s not movin’. No way. No how. (At which point I start having flashbacks to YouTube clips of owners dragging their dead-weight furbabies along the pavement by the lead.)

Lucky for his miniscule stature and teddy bear nature, I can carry him the rest of the way home with ease.

He loves to be carried. Like a little child at night time, Baillie will always pretend to be asleep so I have to carry him to his bed. Observant to when I start to turn off the lights, he’ll lie down, faking slumber, waiting to be scooped up and placed on his blankie.

But he doesn’t snuggle into you. He hangs there like a wet limp noodle.

So as I’m walking back home from our afternoon walk. There’s Bailie, flaccid in my arms, tongue lolling out to one side. Flopping with each pace. He really looks dead to the untrained eye.

People run up “Oh no! What happened?” Then Baillie’s head will lazily roll to cast a discerning eye – really, the most minimal effort he can muster to satisfy his mild curiosity; to which I have to explain that he is fine and simply tired. Or lazy. Or just wants to be carried. “Goodness I thought your dog got hit by a car or something.” And then he gets pats and scratches… it’s all a big sympathy ploy I’m sure.

Such a baby.

But I love him to bits. And I’d carry him with me anywhere.

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.

No fun for this waterbaby ☹

The aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and water turbidity

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I love putting my Marine Biology degree to use and volunteering for colleagues in their research, and I had signed on for a number of data collecting expeditions in the first half of this year, but my excitement was dashed when Cyclone Debbie reared her head in March, kicking up sediment, increasing freshwater runoff.

Many of the species we were to observe or tag left the area and hadn’t returned with enough population to warrant a survey. Additionally, the turbidity and visibility of the water hampered the chosen sites and work was delayed or cancelled for the time being. So I was left with a big sad face.

I would have loved to get involved with a study on the silt deposits from run-off on the reef, or how nutrient run off increases certain organism population or algal blooms in the area; but no-one I knew was conducting a foray into these areas at the moment. No luck for this girl. I was tempted to conduct my own study just for the fun of it, but that kind of endeavour takes a little bit of money and extra volunteers. I can’t justify the time an effort spent to organise when I should be writing. That’s how I weigh up every activity at the moment: is it worth me taking time of writing or not? Only because I’m determined to finish some projects this year, no matter how strong the call of the sea!

I did get one small morning survey for starfish species. A bit of light snorkelling on a sunny day in a more remote area of the Sunshine Coast to compare to the more popular and trafficked areas. More to monitor the impact of tourism and industry on the local species.

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Though because it was only a short amount of time to get the job done, I didn’t have the opportunity to swim around photographing some of the sights for my blog. Though I did manage to get a selfie – the only good one out of ten. My photographer had a hard time keeping the camera still.

It has been the least scientific of all my adventures. And without incident of my clumsiness. Prone to slipping on rocks, falling down, tripping – or getting slapped in the face by a turtle. I endure all of this for my love of the ocean and its inhabitants. Looking forward to a few adventures nearer to Christmas. Turtle tagging, some research into plankton species which will mostly be conducted in a lab, a trawling sample, and maybe a coastline survey. Sadly no dugong studies this year.

I’m still wanting to do some more nosing around in the natural spring in my back yard and get a population survey of what is right under my nose. I hear the spring has been seeded with Barramundi!

But writing first.

Head Under Water 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.