The Beautiful Books #23: March 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, where I bather on about my current WIP Novel Project, which would be Orion – Volume II in the Pushing Boundaries series (yeah, I know, it says Scorpius is the title of Volume II on the Pushing Boundaries link page, clearly I need to change that, Scorpius will be the title of Volume III instead), however, there have been some complications with the plotting and outlining process.

I’m supposed to have a finished outline for Volume II by the end of March so I can use it for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but right now it’s just super hard to sit down and think about what I want to happen in Volume II, let alone write it down. One of the numerous problems is that currently I don’t know what’s going on with Beth and James, so for the mean-time, I’m just going to focus on Mac and Cassie and, hopefully, that’ll work out instead. On with the post!

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Mac: Mac enjoys Marvel and DC Comics (the whole Marvel/DC rivalry doesn’t make any sense to him), so he’s enthusiastic/passionate about Comic-to-Movie adaptation, he likes being able to explain the adaptation differences and domino affect it would have on the plot-line.

Cassie: Cassie enjoys cheesy romantic-comedies but her favorite movie would be The Notebook

Is there anything they regret doing?
Mac got Cassie pregnant when she was seventeen and he was twenty and, while they don’t regret getting pregnant per say, they regret the circumstances and events that happened around the two of them at that time (so it’s more of a “guilt by association” type thing).

Mac: When Cassie first told him that she was pregnant, Mac went to James for assistance and James and Justine offered to help discreetly arrange an abortion for Cassie, which is something they both objected to (Cassie didn’t want to get abortion and Mac was supportive of her choice, he was willing to provide whatever Cassie needed), however, Cassie’s family eventually realised that she was pregnant and organised to have Cassie “sent off to a relative” when her pregnancy became more noticeable and for parents to adopt the child. Mac objected to this attempted to (for lack of a better word) rescue Cassie from this arrangement (Cassie was pretty much being forced into giving up the child, but she have a small say on who the adoptive parents could be, Mac didn’t get a say at all). James found out about this and, with Justine’s help, tracked Mac and Cassie down and brought Cassie back to her parents.

Cassie: Cassie doesn’t regret going through with the pregnancy, but sometimes she does wonder if she should have had an abortion (would it have spared Mac all that turmoil and stress?), Cassie also regrets not being able to talk to Mac about the situation, Mac just assumed that they would be a continue to be couple and they would automatically become a family, Cassie wanted to be Mac and she loves him very much, but she realizes now that she didn’t want to be a mother at that point in her life and she’s afraid of saying anything about it because she doesn’t want to sound like she doesn’t care about Mac or the daughter they have. So Yeah… A lot of angst there.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Mac: Emilia is a little precious with Mac with when Mac is sick

Cassie: Cassie normally just takes care of herself (depending on how bad it is, usually she’s not that bad), her mum checks on her but her mum is more the aloof/distant type.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
Mac: Mac has sonograms of his unborn daughter tucked away safely, but he also has a copy of them on his phone, for obvious reasons.

Cassie: Cassie wishes she had sonograms (her mother took her copies from her to give to the adoptive parents), I’m planning on writing a depressing/touching scene (depending on my writing skills and reader’s perspective) where Cassie finds them on his phone.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Both Mac and Cassie have a strong sense of loyalty to their friends (it does manifest in different ways, Mac is more aggressive and willing to pick a fight, where are Cassie is more passive and willing to do stuff on another person’s behalf). Beth manages to win them both over being nice to them and cooking them food.
Mac: Mac is more of a common interest type person, Duncan and him have been mates since secondary school and while they both have an interest in drawing, Duncan no longer has time to pursue it (busy with work and a girlfriend), Beth has more of an interest in manga than comics but she knows enough of a general overview of Marvel and DC so that she had keep up with Mac. Beth also has a list of Marvel movies and TV shows she’s been meaning to catch up on.

Cassie: Cassie is pretty tolerant of people, but she won’t accept homophobia and, even though she’s rather timid when it comes to defending herself from her brother Mark or Donoghue, she is quick and sharp to call Mark and Donoghue out on their bullshit. Cassie can be a little clingy, although she doesn’t always realise it, Seamus sometimes has to remind her when she’s being too clingy with Beth.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Mac: work boots, flannel shirt (usually in a shade of blue with a navy blue singlet underneath) and jeans.

Cassie: feminine method of fashion, pastel colors (pink and blue), likes to where knitted items of clothing and make her own items of clothing.

What’s their favorite type of weather?
Mac: Summer and spring, but mostly summer, Mac would love the idea of Australian summer, which generically speaking involves wearing shorts and thongs (the shoes in case that wasn’t clear), going to the beach and having a backyard barbecue

Cassie: Cassie likes spring, she loves the smell of roses and flowers in bloom, she also enjoys hiking and walking trails

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
I suppose it wasn’t a fight, but more the absence of a fight, the pressure of things left unsaid. When James and Justine came to collect Cassie from the caravan-park they were holed up in, James held Mac in a head-lock until he passed out (James made sure to get Justine to stay with him to prevent him from chasing after Cassie), so neither of them got a chance to say goodbye and get proper closure from the whole incident. The lack of closure affects them both, it just affects them in different ways, Mac gets drunk and lashes out, while Cassie takes to selling drugs so she can get away from her parents.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Mac: Mac doesn’t have any nicknames because he’s name is already so short, although Beth does develop the habit of calling Mac “Macca” (which she does to annoy him, although it annoys James more than it does Mac)

Cassie: Cassie’s full name is Cassandra, but she prefers Cassie

What makes their heart feel alive?
Mac: Being with Cassie

Cassie: Being with Mac

So Yeah… that’s about it thus far, now I just have to sit down, and figure out how to shove all of those past events into a 60 000 novella *manic and slightly panicky laughter.

The Beautiful Books #22: February 2017

 

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Last year when I answered these questions, the couple I chose to focus on was Beth and James, however, this time around I’d like to focus on another couple. This time I’d like to focus on my side-characters, Mac and Cassie, this is because in an indirect way they’ve managed to spark the catalysts of my main plot and a couple of side-plots as well. I would also prefer to focus on Mac and Cassie at this point because (to be honest) they’re the only couple in my Pushing Boundaries series where I have a definitive answer for how I want to resolve their relationship problems and what kind of place (growth-wise) I want Mac and Cassie to be in by the end of Volume II.

How and why did they meet?
Mac and Cassie met at a mutual friend’s house party, Duncan, they did have a few drinks but they spent the whole night talking to each other about Comic Books and Comic Book Adaptations (movies and tv shows) and that was a new thing for Mac, despite the fact that Cassie was seventeen at the time and he was twenty.

What were their first impressions of each other?
Cassie was a little imitated by Mac and was uncertain of how to proceed (mostly because of how James and her older brother have a big feud). Cassie was expecting Mac to be hostile towards her because of the feud, but he wasn’t. Mac was expecting Cassie to be a snob or a malicious bitch because the Acker family have a history of being arseholes, Mac’s idea was that Cassie wasn’t worth the effort, so he pretty much ignored her until Seamus introduced them and mentioned that Cassie liked graphic novels and manga.

How would they prove their love for each other?
Mac’s the type of guy who doesn’t say he loves people with words but with actions, he’ll do something he doesn’t particularly like because it will make person X happy, he’s also the type to get into fights defending people (but in a way that’s more using someone else as an excuse to get into a fight).

Cassie is the type of person who is physically affectionate with a lover/paramour/partner but rather shy and reserved when it comes to talking about her feelings, in fact she tends to avoid those types of conversations (which is why Mac doesn’t know where he stands, he can’t tell if it was just some silly fling or a meaningful connection)

What would be an ideal date?
Mac: freshly shaved and nice clothing, most likely dinner and a movie kinda deal, but he’s also the type to want to go for a walk after dinner and explore the nearby area, maybe get dessert from a different place.
Cassie: Cassie the type to want a later dinner at a restaurant, that way there’s less people and it’s more intimate. But Cassie also likes group outings like dragging Mac along to a LARP situation (Cassie and Seamus are into LARP and Dungeons & Dragons). She likes her perspective partner to show an interest in her activities and being able to get along with her friends.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?
Mac has a pretty black and white perspective on Cassie’s abusive family situation, he refuses to let Cassie “explain” away her parents behavior (“Dad is only like that when he’s drunk, he doesn’t mean it and he makes up for it later”). Beth helps Mac understand that the situation can be more complicated and that it is not always that simple because her father is a police officer.

List 3 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
01. Mac is average at cooking, but there’s two meals he’s really good at which is scrambled eggs and pancakes. This is because James taught him how to cook them when he was younger.
02. Not sure if this is food related, but Cassie is a competent deer hunter because her dad likes to deer hunt as well, she also knows how to properly skin an animal and the basics of tanning.
03. Mac is more Sweets Orientated and Cassie is more Savory Orientated

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?
Cassie knows that Mac is a good drawer and encouraged him to pursue it professionally. Mac knows that Cassie enjoys performing with the choir but hates performing solo pieces for the church, she feels that she’s getting the solo because her parent’s influence on the church council, not because she’s talented (she is reasonably talented though)

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?
Over the two years, both of them have contemplated suicide, Cassie tends to be more inclined towards drinking and self-harming, however, both of them seem to be heading towards self-destructive burn-out, Beth is the one who notices this in both of them and both of them ask Beth not to mention it to the other (something Beth doesn’t approve of but understands).

How would their lives be different without each other?
That’s an interesting question. If Cassie and Mac hadn’t met, Cassie wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and Mac and Cassie wouldn’t be the parent to a daughter, but for Cassie, her life situation wouldn’t really be that much different, if anything her current situation is kind of unbearable because when she was Mac she realised what it was like to be truly happy and what it felt to break away from her family situation (even if it was just for a couple of hours or days). I like to think Mac would still feel as though he was without a purpose (he just wouldn’t know why), he felt as his relationship with Cassie gave him purpose, that he felt he was really was making a difference in someone else’s life. Mac would be less depressed but he would just as emotionally lost.

Where do they each see this relationship going?
Both of them don’t see it working out and that they’re better off without the other (naturally this isn’t true). Beth and Seamus think it could work out which is why they get involved as match-makers which mostly consists of getting Mac and Cassie in the same room and making them talk to each other (Beth and Seamus haven’t put much thought into plan), primarily at Justine’s shed as it’s kind of a more neutral zone (much to Justine’s annoyance).

So yeah… That’s my Beautiful Books post, if you want to talking about your latest WIP Novel project, feel free to leave a comment down the bottom. If you want to leave a link to your own Beautiful People post, please do so in the comment section down below, and if you’re interested in partaking in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, let me know in the comments section.

Links:
~Paper Fury: BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE #22 ~ COUPLES EDITION

~Paper Fury: How I Get Ready To Write A Novel

Beautiful Books ~ 2017 Writing Goals

Image Description: A close up picture of a type-writer with the heading of "beautiful books: a link up for writers" up the top of the image. At the bottom of the image is the website urls for <a href="http://paperfury.com/" target="_blank">Paper Fury</a> and <a href="http://www.furtherupfurtherin.net/" target="_blank">Further Up and Further In </a>
Image Description: A close up picture of a type-writer with the heading of “beautiful books: a link up for writers” up the top of the image. At the bottom of the image is the website urls for Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In

What were your writing achievements last year?
~Self-published my first EBook Canis Major, Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series (yes, I will shamelessly plug this for as long as possible)

What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?
~Participate and Win Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July and then NaNoWriMo in November
~Attend the Emerging Writers Festival and/or Melbourne Writers Festival
~Write One Stim Toy Review a month
~Write at least one RecipeYum Article a month (I’m hoping for more but I’m being realistic)
~Read and Review at least two books a month (I’m hoping for more, but I’m being realistic)

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
~Orion, volume II of the Pushing Boundaries series
~Andromeda, a collection of short stories focusing on Beth and Mary as teenagers

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
~A finished manuscript of Orion, Volume II of Pushing Boundaries
~I also hope to improve my attendance at Writer Events/Author Events

Describe your general editing process.
For other authors or other people:
~Print out a hard-copy and go through it chapter by chapter with a red pen, possible write notes or questions on the back of pages.

For my own projects:
~Flail around helplessly and do a terrible job in general (I’m awful when it comes to editing my own work)

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?
-Insert Chewbacca Noises Here- But in all honesty, I really want to develop the habit this year of sitting down on one day of week (or whenever) and consistently writing, I’m looking into using the Pomodoro Technique.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
Well it needs to exist for one thing, but I think it’ll help me if I sit down and down a an outline for it, I was thinking chapter-by-chapter but not too detailed.

What do you like the most about your draft?
Well what I like about the idea behind Orion and the Pushing Boundaries series is that it’s like the first project I’ve been able to consistently work on, that’s kind of amazing for me.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Hopefully by November, it’s finished and is ready for editing and/or Beta reading, but due to the cost of self-publishing I might be forced into only being able self-publish an 60 000 word Ebook every second year, which is why I’ll be writing some short stories in the meantime (and then putting them into their own Ebook later on).

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
Give your draft some space. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t give my WIP Writing Project space due to poor time management skills. I had to write, edit and self-publish all within the space of a year and it did turn out to be a rush job (I really don’t recommend this), however, I’m still proud of what I managed to accomplish. But if I had the luxury of space, I would have had a better and more objective perspective when it was time for editing, so knowing when to let go a project and work on something else for a while (but not too long) is a good skill to develop.

Also Editing will take WAY longer than you could possibly imagine, do your research, find the right resources for you and don’t get discouraged or think you’ll never get to the end of the tunnel, because you will 🙂

My Treasure Chest – Part 3: What I Got For Christmas

a collection of gifts wrapped in Christmas themed wrapping paper (I’ll go into detail within the post). What can be seen is a large Kids &Co. multi-coloured large bouncy ball, a pink pig critter puff, a pink and yellow slinky, a large blue balloon filled with flour, a pink circle with raised dots on it and multiple zip-lock bags with telephone cord hair-ties inside them.

Photo courtesy of K. A. Cook

Image Description: a collection of gifts wrapped in Christmas themed wrapping paper (I’ll go into detail within the post). What can be seen is a large Kids &Co. multi-coloured large bouncy ball, a pink pig critter puff, a pink and yellow slinky, a large blue balloon filled with flour, a pink circle with raised dots on it and multiple zip-lock bags with telephone cord hair-ties inside them.

Not to sound like I’m bragging, but I got some awesome stuff for Christmas, some of it was Stim Toys and general stuff from Kim but I also wanted to include gifts I got from other people as well :D. I also wanted to include somethings I bought post-Christmas too.

Books: 
Image Description: from left to right, a copy of The Princess Bride (the novel) by William Goldman and a DVD of The Princess Bride. Image Description: from left to right, a copy of The Princess Bride (the novel) by William Goldman and a DVD of The Princess Bride.

I was so happy when Kim said they had a copy of The Princess Bride on DVD that they no longer wanted, I’ve been meaning to do a “Book VS Movie Review” for The Princess Bride for ages! My partner has never seen the movie or read the book, so I figured I could remedy at least one of those problems.

Image Description: a collection of four books, the books are The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce Image Description: a collection of four books, the books are The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

Kim’s given me so many Tamora Pierce books, I’ve had to make a Book list so that I know which ones to read in order, but I’m really looking forward to reading them :).

Beaded Jewellery:
Image Description: two necklaces with black cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has purple-orange-blue-orange-purple coloured beads. The second necklace has light blue-dark blue-purple-dark blue-light blue coloured beads. Image Description: two necklaces with black cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has purple-orange-blue-orange-purple coloured beads. The second necklace has light blue-dark blue-purple-dark blue-light blue coloured beads
Image Description: from left to right, there are two necklaces with shorter cords that look like two cords intertwined together. The first one is a short brown cord with two brown cords intertwined together, with four gold-coloured small loops and a gold key ring with light blue-dark blue, green, yellow, amber and red coloured beads. The second one is a short black cord with two black cords intertwined together, with four silver-coloured small loops and pink-green-black-green-pink coloured beads Image Description: from left to right, there are two necklaces with shorter cords that look like two cords intertwined together. The first one is a short brown cord with two brown cords intertwined together, with four gold-coloured small loops and a gold key ring with light blue-dark blue, green, yellow, amber and red coloured beads. The second one is a short black cord with two black cords intertwined together, with four silver-coloured small loops and pink-green-black-green-pink coloured beads
Image Description: two necklaces with white cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has green-yellow-pink-blue-pink-yellow-green coloured beads. The second necklace has white-orange-yellow-orange-white coloured beads. Image Description: two necklaces with white cord, four chrome-coloured small loops and a key ring with beads on them, from left to right, the first necklace has green-yellow-pink-blue-pink-yellow-green coloured beads. The second necklace has white-orange-yellow-orange-white coloured beads.

I love beaded jewellery, I especially love the rainbow and pink-green-black-green-pink beaded necklace (should be the second picture), while I like the texture of the black and white rat-tail cords, I love the texture of the shorter necklaces. I wore the rainbow necklace with one of my rainbow unicorn and narwhal t-shirts (pictured below) for Christmas Day.

Telephone-cord Hair-ties:
Image Description: six telephone-cord hair-ties; a blue one with small pink crosses, a robin’s egg blue one, a purple one, a pink one, a telephone cord that looks like a peppermint candy and a red one. Image Description: six telephone-cord hair-ties; a blue one with small pink crosses, a robin’s egg blue one, a purple one, a pink one, a telephone cord that looks like a peppermint candy and a red one.
Image Description: six telephone-cord hair-ties in black. Image Description: six telephone-cord hair-ties in black.
Image Description: six small telephone-cord hair-ties, with one coloured with red and blue with the rest coloured blue and white or pink (it kind of looks like pink). Image Description: six small telephone-cord hair-ties, with one coloured with red and blue with the rest coloured blue and white or pink (it kind of looks like pink).
Image Description: two groups of telephone-cord hair-ties from left to right, group one is four small telephone-cord hair ties; two are orange and purple, one is red and blue and one green and purple. Group two features three telephone cords grouped together; a pink one, a yellow one and a green one. Image Description: two groups of telephone-cord hair-ties from left to right, group one is four small telephone-cord hair ties; two are orange and purple, one is red and blue and one green and purple. Group two features three telephone cords grouped together; a pink one, a yellow one and a green one.
Stim Toy Box: miniature silver-coloured deep-fry chip basket
Stim Toy Box: a horde of telephone cord
I love these and I love to wear telephone-cord hair-ties that match my shirt and beaded-jewellery necklace, for example: blue shirt, blue beaded-jewellery necklace and three or two blue telephone-cord hair-ties on my wrist (though I prefer three, I sometimes have to settle for two, depending on colour availability)

Fake Kinetic Sand:
Image Description: a small clear Tupperware container filled with green fake kinetic sand. Image Description: a small clear Tupperware container filled with green fake kinetic sand.
Image Description: a small round container filled with blue fake kinetic sand Image Description: a small round container filled with blue fake kinetic sand.
Image Description: a clear zip-lock bag with a colourful collection of fake kinetic sand moulds and tools. Image Description: a clear zip-lock bag with a colourful collection of fake kinetic sand moulds and tools.

My partner and I bought a kinetic sand-kit for his god-children (although technically he is only the godfather to one of the children) as a Christmas present, however, I pretty much spent the whole time playing with it instead while my partner and the children fired water pistols at each other. It’s fucking brilliant! I can’t wait to get back home and play with my own fake kinetic sand kit, although I truly recommend a medium-large tray and a clear work-space.

Miscellaneous Fidgets:
Image Description: a small pink and yellow slinky Image Description: a small pink and yellow slinky
Image Description: a pink rubber-circle with raised dots on it. Image Description: a pink rubber-circle with raised dots on it.
Image Description: a two pack of pink and yellow play-doh Image Description: a two pack of pink and yellow play-doh
Image Description: a pink and blue Liquid Motion Bubbler. Image Description: a pink and blue Liquid Motion Bubbler.

Another slinky to add to my collection, which is great, and the pink circle is apparently a dog-chew-toy but it does feel good to run my fingertips over the raised dots. More pink and yellow themed play-doh, which is always good, but I’ve found that I often use the Liquid Motion Bubbler to either measure time or help me refocus when I need take a break or just relax.

My expanding collection of Piggies:
Image Description: A small furry purse that resembles a pink pig Image Description: A small furry purse that resembles a pink pig
Image Description: Tiny figurine of a pig that is pink and yellow Image Description: Tiny figurine of a pig that is pink and yellow
Image Description: Two pink sponges in the shape and form of pigs with pink fronds. Image Description: Two pink sponges in the shape and form of pigs with pink fronds
Image Description: Two pink sponges in the shape and form of pigs with pink fronds exiting them with a small coin purse in the shape of a pig just beneath them. Image Description: Two pink sponges in the shape and form of pigs with pink fronds exiting them with a small coin purse in the shape of a pig just beneath them
Image Description: A critter-puff in the shape of a pink pig. Image Description: A critter-puff in the shape of a pink pig

Aren’t they all adorable? I already had the coin purse in the fourth picture but now that I have the trifecta of Daiso piggies, I can probably use them to summon the Hogfather (maybe?), they are adorable regardless. The little figurine is a little fragile so it was wrapped in bubble wrap and, me being me, I spent more time playing with the bubble-wrap than with the figurine (I fucking love bubble-wrap). But I put the figurine inside one of the sponges, then put that sponge inside a coin purse, resulting in a Turducken of Piggies.

Stress-balls and Fidgets:
Image Description: a large dark-blue balloon filled with flour sealed in a clear-plastic zip-lock bag. Image Description: a large dark-blue balloon filled with flour sealed in a clear-plastic zip-lock bag.
Image Description: a small rubbery yellow stress-ball with a winky face and pink woollen hair Image Description: a small rubbery yellow stress-ball with a winky face and pink woollen hair
Image Description: a black and white patterned soccer-ball. Image Description: a black and white patterned soccer-ball.
Image Description: a colourful collection of small bouncy balls in a clear plastic zip-lock bag Image Description: a colourful collection of small bouncy balls in a clear plastic zip-lock bag
Image Description: a large Kids & Co. Bouncy ball that looks like multiple bits of colourful plastic string interwoven together to form a large ball (like a colourful bouncy ball of twine). Image Description: a large Kids & Co. Bouncy ball that looks like multiple bits of colourful plastic string interwoven together to form a large ball (like a colourful bouncy ball of twine)
Image Description: A perfectly formed Rubric cube with the red, blue and yellow sides showing Image Description: A perfectly formed Rubric cube with the red, blue and yellow sides showing
Image Description: Two spikey balls, from left to right, a blue spikey ball and a green spikey ball Image Description: Two spikey balls, from left to right, a blue spikey ball and a green spikey ball
Stim Toy Box: Xie Wei Sports Toys
Stim Toy Box: mini sports/prickle balls

These are all great, but I’m quite fond of the Kids & Co. multi-coloured bouncy-ball (it’s from K-Mart), I’ve already had a good play with it at home, it’s larger size makes it easier for me to catch. I really like the spikey balls as well as as the soccer ball.

Special Confectionery from Holland:
Image Description: two boxes of confectionary from Holland that is put on toast, you will need to ask Kim for more details, links will be provided. Image Description: two boxes of confectionary from Holland that is put on toast, you will need to ask Kim for more details, links will be provided.
According to Kim, you sprinkle the chocolate flakes on freshly buttered toast and is most delicious when the chocolate flakes are softened (but not melted completely). Kim has also informed me that they can be found in specialised Delicatessens but the expiry date might be a bit iffy, although they’re still good even if they are past their expiry date.

Christmas Presents I Received From Brendon:
T-Shirts From Tee-Turtle:
Image Description: a black t-shirt with a unicorn waring shades with a rainbow in the background, with doughnuts and slices of pizza floating in the background Image Description: a black t-shirt with a unicorn waring shades with a rainbow in the background, with doughnuts and slices of pizza floating in the background
Image Description: a blue t-shirt with a mermaid riding a unicorn side-saddle with the text 'I live in my own reality' printed beneath Image Description: a blue t-shirt with a mermaid riding a unicorn side-saddle with the text ‘I live in my own reality’ printed beneath
Image Description: A blue t-shirt with a unicorn and a narwhal posing in front of a rainbow with the word 'YASSSS' printed in rainbow text underneath them Image Description: A blue t-shirt with a unicorn and a narwhal posing in front of a rainbow with the word ‘YASSSS’ printed in rainbow text underneath them
*SQUEEE!* Brendon got me these from Tee Turtle, he’s amazing :D. I wore the unicorn and narwhal t-shirt with the rainbow beaded-jewellery necklace (pictured above) on Christmas Day.

Random Stuff I Bought:
Image description: two necklaces made from seven coral-pink and maroon-red hexagonal silicone beads strung onto and coral-pink and maroon-red cord with a black breakaway clasp. The necklaces are a clear plastic zip-lock storage bag with a silver ring for hanging on a hook. The barely-visible silver text on the bag reads “clothing and co”. Image description: two necklaces made from seven coral-pink and maroon-red hexagonal silicone beads strung onto and coral-pink and maroon-red cord with a black breakaway clasp. The necklaces are a clear plastic zip-lock storage bag with a silver ring for hanging on a hook. The barely-visible silver text on the bag reads “clothing and co”.
Stim Toy Box: seven aqua hexagonal silicone beads
Kim recommended these on their Stim Toy Box blog (they got an nice aqua coloured one), I was aiming for pink, but these were the closest I could find. I’ll see how these go for use as a subtle Fidget. I also bought some other stuff from K-Mart such as a pink make-up blending sponge and a watermelon plushie for Kim (although I will be the first to admit the fact that the watermelon plushie does look a little demonic). I was tempted to purchase a Munchy (for myself) but I refrained and got some play-do instead.

Stim Toy Box: Snake Puzzles
I bought two small snake puzzles from Smiggle and a blue-pink-purple snap-bracelet with spikes on it (I’m currently wearing it on my left wrist beneath my pink-orange-and-yellow telephone-cord hair-ties), every time my partner snaps it onto my wrist, I giggle, it just feels so enjoyable to hear the snapping sound combined with the pressure sensation (I know that sounds weird, but I don’t really care).

So yeah, that was my Christmas, I hope my readers also had an awesome (and below 30 degrees) Christmas and if you want to talk about Stim Toys or Christmas gifts (or both), let me know in the comments section.

Links:
~Eldritch Esoterica – “Ambiguous Pieces: outfitting and equipping nerdy stimmers since 2016.”
~Stim Toy Box – Homepage
~Stim Toy Box: Australian End of Year Sales Stimmy Round Up!
~Princess Aspien: What I Got For Christmas (YouTube Video)

Audio Stimming: Postmodern Jukebox

Image Description: The keyboard of a piano with a single page of sheet music on top of it
In my family, Music is a big deal, and every Christmas I would make Mix-Tape Style CD’s for my friends and family. Unfortunately, one of my parents would regularly work Christmas Day, and would listen to the CD on the way to work. My father is a walking encyclopedia on the History of Music. If you give him the name of a band, he will rattle off the band’s history and placements of specific songs on radio charts. My partner on the other hand, as kid, did not possess an interest in music. He had limited exposure to FM Pop radio stations and ABC on AM, which didn’t change until he finished secondary college and moved to the “big city” of Bendigo for University access. The only time he listened to music regularly was in the car as he and his step-father traveled into Melbourne together.

This was a strange idea for me to grasp when my partner told me this. It was very difficult for me — a person who is sometimes overwhelmed by sound — to comprehend that for my partner, bands and songs were not distinguishable from each other, but rather blurred together to form one large homogenized blob of decade-associated-noise. Which is why my partner and father will occasionally have weird moments, such as when I play a song my partner vaguely recognizes and I tell him it’s (for example) by Fleetwood Mac. He’ll raise an eyebrow at me and say “That’s Fleetwood Mac?” (though in his defense Fleetwood Mac does change it’s vocal-line up frequently). My father will be incredulous at my partner’s inability to detect a particular band’s style by a mere few bars of music. My partner will shrug non-nonchalantly (“What are you getting all riled up for? It’s just music.”), which will naturally annoy my father further.

Although, I have exposed him to my weird and strange assortment of music, I must confess it mostly consists of 90’s alternative rock — I am a product of my time period in some ways. As my partner’s car is a Japanese import, it can only access AM radio stations, which makes it a little difficult to keep up with modern music. So, it has only just recently come to my attention that auditory stimming is a thing. I hadn’t realised it until I saw a tumblr post mentioning a list of stims, and “listening to the same song over and over again” was one of them, which is something I’ve been doing since I was kid.

The thing is, I still do this and I’m starting to think it might be one of my “feel good” stims (as opposed to my “stress relief” stims which are fidget/hand orientated) and I hadn’t realised it until now. It’s funny, I’ve been trying to figure out “feel good” stims for my characters in my Pushing Boundaries series, and I should have realised sooner why I was having such difficulties. If I couldn’t figure out my own ones, I could hardly figure out ones for my characters. At this point, while I can figure out Mary’s “feel good” stims, it’s going to be more difficult for a character like James, who mostly listens to audio books and classical music, and I have a feeling that it’s going be a process of elimination.

So, for the last two days, I’ve been listening to Youtube videos made by Postmodern Jukebox, and these videos have been helpful for character development and Auditory Stimming:

The Original Artist:
~All About That Bass by Megan Trainor
~Bad Romance by Lady Gaga
~Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Habits by Tove Lo
~Hotline Bling by Drake
~Lovefool by The Cardigans
~Stacey’s Mum by Fountains of Wayne
~Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging by Fall Out Boy
~Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood
~Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and Barbie Girl by Aqua (the 90’s was a weird time)

The Postmodern Jukebox Version:
~All About That Bass – Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version ft. Casey Abrams, Haley Reinhart, Morgan James and Ariana Savalas
~Bad Romance – Vintage 1920’s Gatsby Style ft. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich
~Closer – Retro ’50s Prom Style ft. Kenton Chen
~Habits – Vintage 1930’s Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Hotline Bling – Vintage ’40s Swing ft. Cristina Gatti
~Lovefool – Vintage Jazz ft. Haley Reinhart
~Stacy’s Mum – Vintage 1930s Hot Jazz ft. Casey Abrams
~Sugar, We’re Going Down – Vintage Big Band Style ft. Joey Cook
~Sweater Weather – Vintage French Pop / Edith Piaf-style ft. Cristina Gatti
~Barbie Girl – Vintage Beach Boys Style ft. Morgan James

This is just a small sample I’m working with. I’m hoping if I use a small sample, it will make it easier to focus my attention. I am so easily distracted by noise and sound. There are way more songs available from the enormously talented singers and musicians that work with Postmodern Jukebox.

All About The Bass: I’ve already written about my issues with the Megan Trainor version (link is here), however I can’t deny I enjoy listening to this version of the song. Morgan James also changes the line to “go ahead and tell those skinny ladies that”, and coupled with her delivery of the “Naw, I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat” line sort of makes it more tolerable? IDK, it’s up to personal interpretation. My favourite part of the song is when all three ladies harmonize together (which is audio catnip for me). The first time I listened to this song, I couldn’t help but close my eyes and sigh; I was not aware I was doing that until my partner raised an eyebrow at my behaviour.

Bad Romance: The funny thing is that Lady Gaga herself is a self-taught pianist, so she often performs Poker Face in this style, which I think is great. If anything, I encourage artists to be able to sit back and strip down their music to the essentials. Ariana Savalas and Sarah Reich work great together as a team, with Sarah performing tap dancing. I would have thought the tap-dancing would make it distracting, but it’s complimentary (or at least that’s the case for me).

Closer: While it’s clear that the guy from The Chainsmokers could not sing to save his life, this is not the case with Kenton Chen and the other vocalists Mario Jose and Vince Cannady. They provide lovely tenor and countertenor harmonization. But this song highlights the fact that talented musicians and vocalists are still restricted by the song. The lyrical clunkiness of the chorus is highlighted because these are talented musicians and vocalists. Much in the same way that Elvis Presley’s bad acting was highlighted further by surrounding him with a cast of talented actors. But, getting back on topic, I just love this style of music. Amongst my favourite songs are I Only Have Eyes For You by The Flamingos, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) by The Four Tops and Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers.

Habits: I love the Haley Reinhart version of this (I’ve replayed this countless times over the last two days). I adore Haley Reinhart’s smoky/raspy Mezzo-soprano voice, or at least I think that’s what it’s classified as (I am in no way a music expert). Haley Reinhart is an engaging performer and she is exquisite to listen to.

Hotline Bling: While I despise the original version of this song, I do enjoy the Hotline Bling memes which are hilarious (the Star Wars one is the best, no exceptions). But much like All About That Base, when Cristina Gatti sings this song, it somehow becomes more tolerable (is that the right word?). When I asked my partner to listen to it, he said “Great, now I have to take this song seriously.” He described it as “like Amy Winehouse”, to which I replied “Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”, especially since I also love Amy Winehouse’s music such as Rehab (I play this constantly), Back To Black and Valerie (I know this is Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse, but you get the general idea)

Lovefool: As stated previously, I adore tracks performed by Haley Reinhart, but I also really like the original as well. It’s one of my favourite songs, I think both versions are good, but my partner thinks this version is too close to the original. Let me know in the comments section if you agree or disagree.

Stacey’s Mum: This song is a bit of guilty pleasure of mine, and while I enjoy both versions, I’ve got to say that Casey Abrams is mad talented.

Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging: Although I am a big Fall Out Boy Fan, I love it when female artists do covers of songs originally sung for/by men. After all, despite the fact that Otis Reed originally did sing it, Aretha Franklin’s version of Respect is the one that’s most well known, and it’s obvious Aretha Franklin’s version is the better one (not sorry in the slightest). Joey Cook’s version does not disappoint, it sounds just like I imagined a vintage big band to sound like, and the black and white visual adds to the jazzy atmosphere.

Sweater Weather: While I do like the original, I prefer Cristina Gatti’s version, not just because she is lovely to listen to (singing in French!) but also because, unlike the original song, the music composition is consistent throughout the track, the original track slows down the melody for some weird reason near the end. This reminds me strongly of Dancing With Myself by Nouvelle Vague, although I do also enjoy the Billy Idol version of Dancing With Myself as well.

Barbie Girl: With regards to Aqua, I actually have a copy their first album (I give full permission to laugh) and while Barbie Girl was most certainly overplayed, it wasn’t Aqua’s best song, my preferred Aqua songs would be Good Morning Sunshine (even though it has a weird rap moment?) and Happy Boys and Girls (if you could turn Diabetes into a sound, I’m fairly certain it would sound like this). With regards to The Beach Boys, I think Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys is an overrated and, quite frankly, jarring song (there’s a reason people only use the first minute and thirty seconds of that song). I feel that Wouldn’t It Be Good (one of my favourite songs) and I Get Around are better examples of The Beach Boys trademark harmonizing vocals.

And this is why Youtube is both a terrible and wonderful thing. For the last two days, I’ve been feeling happy whilst listening to music, but feeling positive and feeling productive are not the same thing. It’s impossible for me to write and sing at the same time (I’ve tested this). Words can be distracting to productivity, which is why one of my PWE teachers recommended listening to instrumental sounds while writing like cinematic soundtracks or classical music instead.

I have found that I’m more productive with music playing in the background with speakers. I’m not as productive when I’m listening to my mp3 player and headphones, but then again, I live with just my partner and me so that’s possible for me to do that (I understand that’s not possible for everyone). If using Youtube, make use of the playlist function, I found that the playlist function was super helpful and I didn’t have to worry about what video to play next, it automatically went to the next one. This way I could just run it in the background while I did the dishes and the laundry.

So, let me know in the comments section down below if you’re into this type of music or if you like an alternative cover version of a song.

Links:
~Queer Without Gender – Experience Atypical: Sound
~Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist: Signs And Symptoms Of Dysfunction
~Todd In The Shadows: Closer by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
~Todd In The Shadows: The Best of 2013
~The Rap Critic: Hotline Bling by Drake
~When you try all the sounds and beats on your synth while only playing coldplay – viva la vida
~Auditory Stimming

My Treasure Chest – Part 3: Squish

A collection of Stim-toys, I will go into greater detail within the post; but there's play-doh, telephone chord hair-ties and hedgehog frond sponges
Yet another Stim-Toy post, I quite enjoy writing up these posts and I can only hope my readers also enjoy this kind of thing (especially with Christmas coming up).
Links to check out before we begin:
~Eldritch Esoterica: Stim Toy Wishlist
~Eldritch Esoterica: Open Hostility and Critter Puffs

Image Description: left to right, a squishable red apple, in the center a small squishable duck, on the right-hand side a small square slice of tofu with green on the top (I should also like to add that the tofu square is also squishable)
I bought these for Kim over E-bay, I managed to get free delivery for them (which is great) but they take ages to arrive *incomprehensible noises of frustration*. But I suppose the bulk of the enjoyment stems from the anticipation of the thing rather than the thing itself.

Image Description: frond sponges that look like hedgehogs, from right to left, a orange hedgehog frond sponge and a yellow hedgehog frond sponge
I was hoping to get a trifecta of pink-orange-and-yellow hedgehog sponges, but I could only get the orange and yellow at the Highpoint Daiso, I’ll have to check the Melbourne CBD Daiso (I’ll find the pink eventually).

Image Description: two four packs of play-doh in multiple colours
Now, my local Target is having a “special” on play-doh, little individual tubs for $2 and two packs for $4, but I noticed the four packs for $7, so I grabbed a couple for Kim. So, now is probably the time to stock up on play-doh, especially since December is fast approaching. I’m the type of person who truly hates crowds and thus do most of my Christmas shopping either at my local bookstore (who I can order books from via email) or buys gifts via online shopping, if you’re the same as me, I’d probably recommend shopping on a Tuesday as most of the time Tuesday is a quiet day.

Image Description: a large pink bubble wand from Target
I bought this from Target as well for $1, they have other colours such as yellow and blue, just in case readers are not as enthusiastic about pink as I am. I don’t know how this colour-theme occurred, but the colour pink appears to be slowly but surely taking over my house.

Image Description: a lanyard made of a rainbow scale of beads and pink cord
I really like these lanyards, I currently have this pink one attached to one of the zippers on my Nightmare Before Christmas messenger bag, the cord is a little tight for moving the beads up and down, but it’s perfect for rolling, this way I can play with the lanyard on my way to work.

Image Description: left to right, a yellow/green Yoobi coin purse and a blue Yoobi coin purse
I love the feel of these, the only problem with them is that they’re small on the inside, however I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them, even if’s just to put them on my hands and make zombie impressions at my partner. For those who have an Office-works nearby, you can also buy Yoobi stationary from the Office-works website, and then select the “click and collect” option.

Image Description: two sky-blue moulds for fake kinetic sand
Image Description: two sky-blue moulds for fake kinetic sand
Kim recently gave me these, and these are fake kinetic sand moulds (or at least I assume that’s what they are),

Image Description: a packet of fake kinetic moulding clay
Kim also recently gave this to me, it’s fake kinetic clay, it’s like fake kinetic sand except more stable and less inclined to go absolutely everywhere, it was fascinating to watch Kim pull it apart and put it back together again.

Image Description: a shiny plain-black tray
I bought the plain black tray for $2.80 from Highpoint Daiso, they had round ones there, but I prefer a rectangle shaped tray, it’s kind of like I’m creating a brightly-coloured zen-beach thing, despite the fact that I hate the beach (I know, an Australian who hates going to the beach, it doesn’t gel with the national stereotype, but I assure you, it makes perfect sense to me).

Image Description: a collection of squishy foam objects in a bag and a chrome metal wrong with three foam objected embedded on it
Kim got me these and I can’t help but think that they look like squishy slices of pizza or squishy slices of watermelon.

Image Description: a collection of squishable fish in a white plastic net
I bought two packs of these on Kim’s recommendation from the Coles Supermarket I work at for $4.35 each, when I was asked by a college why I was buying squishable fish, I went with my prepared excuse that I was buying them for my niece, which is technically true as I did intentionally buy a pack for my niece (I also bought her a set of cute pj’s), but yeah, fishes shall be squished.

Image Description: a collection of telephone-cord hair-ties
Kim got me these from K-Mart and I’ll probably use them as bracelets, I only have one telephone cord on one wrist at the moment and would prefer to have three on each wrist (which probably sounds silly, but it’s what I like)

Image Description: three bouncy balls, left to right, one that's red and yellow, one that's pink and white, one that's blue and green swirls.
Bouncy Balls! Oh What Fun We Shall Have!

Image Description: a black and white checked snake puzzle in a plastic box
I’ve never played with a snake puzzle before, apparently you can obtain these from K-mart for $1, but you can also get coloured ones from Smiggle (but they’re more expensive at Smiggle).

The Beautiful Books: NaNoWriMo 2016

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I’m trying not to think about NaNoWriMo at this point as I still have to finish my university semester (the semester ends on 28th of October) and I have a lot of things to do before then.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve been working on the Pushing Boundaries series for nearly two years (perhaps a little more because of novel research and stuff).

Describe what your novel is about!
James (an autistic adult) and Beth (an allistic/non-autistic person) have to work together on a case to take down local corrupt cops who have begun to sell drugs in the surrounding areas. James and Beth are very different, but with the help of James’s friend Justine and Beth’s Uncle John, they will begin to see the similarities and realise that they’re not so different after all (I very much suck at blurbs and summaries).

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
I’m not really sure how to answer this one. My books contains Crime, Family Drama and Romance but I can’t really say which genre is more dominant over the other, so I often put Pushing Boundaries under the Contemporary Genre (I feel that Contemporary covers a bit of everything).

I’m also planning on digitally publishing these books, so I’m not sure how you could physically image them, however I do already have the photograph I want to use for the cover of Volume One. I had my partner (who is into Astronomy) take a picture of the constellation Canis Major (its name is Latin for “greater dog”).

Canis Major is the constellation with the star Sirius in it. But what readers might not know is that constellations are seasonal, constallations in the southern hemisphere change and shift during the year, so it’s a picture of Canis Major in the southern hemisphere (Australia) which will look different from the Canis Major in the northern hemisphere (the United Kingdom). Why? Because Symbolism that’s why.

Introduce us to each of your characters!
As I’ve been doing the Beautiful Book posts for over a year now, I feel this is a little redundant, just check out the previous posts if you’re interested.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I outline my novel projects, I tend to do a lot of research into relevant subjects (perhaps too much research as I am a chronic procrastinator). I stock up on instant meals and herbal tea. I also try to get some meals cooked in advance so I just have to bring them out of the fridge or have my partner heat them up (I usually do well the first couple of weeks but completely loose it in the last two).

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I suppose I look forward to re-finding the narrative thread, as a writer, I feel a little lost with the Pushing Boundaries series at the moment. Hopefully this will get me back on track.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
It’s in Kirkby Stephen, behold pictures
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What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
James: James’s goal is to take down the Acker family and reveal them for what they truly are, the problem is that the Acker family are cops and they have no problems abusing their position of power or using fear to bully others (civilian and cop alike) into doing what they want. James also suspects that Beth will interfere with Operation Nightshade and ruin everything.

Beth: Beth doesn’t want anything to do with Operation Nightshade, she gets involved in Operation Nightshade despite not wanting to be because she has a valuable contact, Cassie who’s a member of the family. Beth’s goal starts off as “just get out of this alive” but it ends up being “protecting Cassie and Mac from outside threats”.
Now there’s the obvious threat of her corrupt cop/drug dealing family but there’s also the not-so-obvious threat of her Uncle John, who is leading officer of Operation Nightshade, so Beth ends up caught between these two powerful factions and she’s not entirely sure what the best way is.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
James: James is able to open up a little and begin to trust others (not a lot, but more so than before). He also gets better about letting go of things that beyond his control and that he can’t protect his siblings from the outside world (for better or worse).

Beth: Unlike James, Beth’s character arch is a little more murkier for me, I don’t know what she wants mostly because she doesn’t know what she wants, or at least she’s become accustomed to not getting what she does want so she doesn’t think about it much.
I’m kinda hoping Beth will be a more confident in herself and what she wants and more willing to deal with Mary and Jack’s relationship (right now she’s all like “I don’t want to deal with it, I don’t want to hear about it, this is not my problem”).

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I’m not sure, at first this project started out as a response piece to The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time, but there was also a lot of questions I wanted answers to.

What happens to the autistic characters of the Young Adult genre once they reach the age of eighteen or outgrow the Disability welfare/support system? Why are is there very little fictional representation of autistic characters as adults, proving it’s possible to function as an adult in an ableistic society? Why do non-disabled authors feel compelled to fill this gap by writing fictional books about disabled people?

Though I will acknowledge that it’s highly possible for me to fall into that very same category of “Able-bodied writer writes mediocre book about Disability”, I’m not going to lie, the possible hypocrisy does occasionally keep me awake at night.

However, I like to think that Pushing Boundaries has morphed into it’s own story with (hopefully) interesting characters.