I’m typing this as the snow is falling and slowly… Read More »CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium (My WIP)
So you’re a writer. Welcome to the club, please pick your t-shirt from the pile and have a seat. You’ve probably been around the interwebs and have no doubt found an article or two on the topic of said. You know, dialogue tags.
There are two firm groups of thought here. Okay, okay – two groups of fanatics.
One will tell you Said Is Dead. This group probably started to screw with your mind in high school – I know I was taught that it’s much more descriptive and interesting to use different words than boring, overused said. I remember exercises where we had to complete dialogues by using any words other than said, or we’d be penalised.
Boxes and suitcases everywhere. This is my current reality. Those boxes we’re not shipping to Canada are full of stuff for charity. It’s a minefield.
The clutter makes me anxious. It’s a combination of excitement and being totally overwhelmed, so every now and then I find myself disengaging to regain some semblance of focus. I do this sometimes. Browse the internet, read a book (and I’m beta reading a FANTASTIC ONE at the moment), or do a watercolour. Or, in today’s reality, write a blog post.
I’m so sorry I missed Friday’s post! It slipped away from me without my notice. We had my brother and sister in law over for the weekend, a last visit before the big move, and spending time with them got priority over being in front of the computer.
This was also probably the last weekend of fun and relaxation we’ll have for a while. From here on out, it’s going to be paperwork, packing tape and suitcases.
Huge excitement hit my house yesterday when my brand new Moleskine watercolour journal arrived. And, of course, like an energised kid, I had to try it out immediately.
I drew inspiration from the colouring and falling leaves here in the north – something I’ve always wanted to try painting. At the same time, I wanted to do a tutorial for you. You won’t believe how easy it is to get this effect!
So let’s get to it.
We’ve had precious few sunshine days this past season, so whenever we had even half a chance of catching a ray or two, we were outside. Feeling bolstered by the cloudless day, we hiked to Duisburg Zoo.
We’ve been at the zoo twice before and this is my second blog about it (hence the 2.0). I just couldn’t resist sharing the experience again. There’s even a video this time! As far as zoos go, Duisburg is really worth the trip. We had a blast there, despite the crowds.
It’s already September, I know. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. 🙂 I certainly didn’t think I’d be doing this with all the insanity going on in my life right now, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been writing something amid the chaos!
My good friend Tallulah and I just finished a short fic for Cullen Appreciation Week. It was my first fan fic and also my first collaboration, so I learned a lot from this exercise. I’ll definitely write some more fan fic soon. 🙂
As promised, here’s the bonus Thursday post. 🙂
For the 9th anniversary, we headed to Düsseldorf. This actually happened by accident. The real reason for the trip was to pick up our passports with the brand-spanking-new visas to enter Canada. Both of us had completely forgotten it happened to be our anniversary too. 😛
Since we were already there, we figured a meal would be nice. You know, because it was an event. We conquered the wind and found a cosy restaurant.
Today, folks, is my wedding anniversary. Nine years ago, I married the awesomest dude on the face of the planet – he’s my best friend and soulmate, the greatest father and sweetest husband ever.
In honour of that, I’m taking the day off blogging. 🙂 OK, not only that, we’ve got some errands to run too.
We’ve wanted to go to this place since we arrived in Europe, but every time we had the trip planned, something got in the way. We finally drove to the Netherlands on one sunny Sunday to feast our eyes upon the glory that is Castle De Haar.
The original castle suffered major damages in a fire and was rebuilt many years later. The outside was kept in the Neo-Gothic style, but the interior was modernised in places. The castle even sports a beauty salon. It was interesting to see this mesh of new and old pulled off so well. We’ve visited other castles that had been remodelled to the point where the interior spaces lost all resemblance to their original states – a sad thing if you ask me. This wasn’t the case with De Haar.
This isn’t a tutorial as much as a photo-diary of the steps I followed to create this painting. It’s really very simple, so I’m tagging it as beginner.
Honestly, the most difficult part is getting the violin symmetrical! If that’s something you struggle with, you can always try to find a stencil or print out a violin to trace (though I don’t know how well you’ll be able to trace through watercolour paper). If you’re not feeling the violin, I bet this kind of thing will also work well with flowers, skylines or whatever else blows back your hair.
Fair warning – this is a long post.
After Friday’s big news, we’ve had a lot of good wishes, emails and questions. I thought I’d address some of those today.
Most people were surprised that we’re so unhappy in Germany, especially considering how happy all of our photo diary posts look. I talked about this briefly on Friday, but one of the main things I’ve learned while living abroad is that you can’t judge people’s lives on an hour Skype session every now and then, or on the photos or blog entries they post online.
Would you believe we’d been living in Germany for almost two years before we went for a stroll in Duisburg (our neighbouring town)? I couldn’t either.
Duisburg is a quiet city with an abundance of fountains in the city centre. Colourful and weird, these fountains create a strange contrast to the ancient buildings in the area. Of course there are some modern buildings too, but the city centre hosts many older structures.
As a teenager, I dreamed of moving to Hollywood. At first, I wanted to act. Who doesn’t? But then, one fateful day, I saw the work of my first idol, Steven Spielberg. More than anything, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and make films. I wrote many brilliant screenplays (they were Oscar winners one and all 😛 ) and the lands over the ocean beckoned.
Little did I know back then that I would end up immigrating, but to a totally different part of the world. Germany. And today is the two-year anniversary of that move.
Since my feather banner is so popular, I figured I’d show you how I made it.
This tutorial is super simple, anybody can paint feathers! What makes it even better is how fast this process is. I painted these in less than half an hour, they dried for about an hour, and the outlines took about another half an hour to draw.
The paint does all the work. Well, not all the work, but takes care of the pretty-making on your behalf.
We’re not the biggest sports supporters in the world, but there’s something incredible about going to a live soccer game. To those of you who take this seriously, I know it’s called football in Europe. I’m South African, so to me it’s soccer. No offence meant.
Anyway, the last game we went to (which was also the first ever 😛 – I told you we’re not spots-people) was England vs Ukraine in 2012. Since we enjoyed that one so much, we simply had to see at least one game in Germany. Jan’s boss arranged a company event for the employees, which brought us to Essen stadium for this game.
After the Writing Update post, I was asked how it’s going otherwise. So, here we are.
Somehow, these kinds of posts are the most difficult to write. I don’t know why. It’s such a no-brainer to put in hours of research for *writing topic* or spend an evening painting something for an art tutorial, while writing about my personal life never gets easier. And I don’t mean sharing photos of the stuff we’ve been getting up to. Those kinds of posts write like a story.
These honest ones, though. Posts like these mean being vulnerable on the internet. After six years of blogging, that’s still not a feeling I like.
I’m by no means an expert on the topic, just a noob who’s learned a thing or two from writers much more experienced than I, willing to share their knowledge. These are three little things any writer could use to hone their craft – some so obvious, it’s blinding. Who felt like an idiot after reading her editor’s notes? I did.
This is why I follow senpai’s advice to the letter, and probably why she reckons I’ve levelled up in the writing hierarchy.
Let’s talk about deep point of view (POV). If you’ve never heard this term, you’re in good company. Until my first draft of The Physician’s Apprentice was being edited, I’d never heard it either.
Sunshine has been rare this summer – I don’t know what’s going on. Apart from three or so heat waves, we’ve had an excess of rain and gloom this season. Pretty depressing, if you ask me. Especially considering the fact that I had a tan last year this time.
So, when the sun is out, we are too.
You were supposed to see this post at the end of July, I know. Apologies. I’m more scatterbrained than usual lately and I forgot. But better late than never, right?
The writing has been going exceptionally well. After The Great Word Draught of 2017, I never imagined I’d be writing so much, especially now that The Physician’s Apprentice has been completed (again).
Well, I’m sure some of the other runners still had their fun, but by the time we reached Düsseldorf, it was coming down in buckets. So much so that my water resistant jacket (and shirt underneath) were drenched and we had to stop to buy something dry and warm to wear.
Jan and Mario would have done one of the weekly parkruns in the city, but both decided they’d give it a skip in the heavy rain. We might give it a try again in a week or two, so you could still see running photos. 🙂
As we had nothing better to do, we went exploring. Indoors.
Life is full of little firsts. A while ago, one of these came up for Kayla, when we took her bowling for the first time.
Jan and I used to love bowling back in SA, but haven’t played in about 5 years. Thinking about it now, that puts the last time we played at before my pregnancy. Sad, but true. Anyway, we thought we’d turn a gloomy, rainy Saturday into one of those ‘remember the time when’ memories and headed out to the Rhein-Ruhr Zentrum to bowl.
Yay, a tutorial, inspired by my friend Tallulah. 🙂
Before we get started though, a disclaimer. This is how I use these things. Some other, more experienced artist will probably tell you not to do what I do, and that’s OK. Like everything in life, we all need to find our own personal hacks to make what we do look like magic.
If you’ve experimented and found simpler ways to do things, please drop me a line! I’d love to learn too.
It’s a normal Tuesday and you’re scrolling Facebook. Everything has been going great today and you feel chipper. You’re happy for your cousin who’s pregnant again, you like the pic of that high school friend’s new puppy and you laugh at the ridiculous Star Wars meme.
The following post though, it ruins your day.
Another weekend, another fair.
Let me tell you something about this one, though – it was huge. Everything is bigger and better in Düsseldorf, right? I almost felt bad for the Saarner Kirmes we’d visited the weekend before.
On a cloudy Sunday, we headed to the city to see the fair. Loud music, delicious food scents, bright colours and the screams of thrill-seekers – this is what the fair was all about.
I read an article this morning about why you should write romance novels only in third person point of view. In the past few weeks, a few people made comments on the writer’s groups I belong to about writing in a certain point of view and being criticised for their choice.
I gag a little in my mouth every time I read something along these lines.
One sunny Sunday, we went to Düsseldorf on a macaron-finding quest. It was France festival, after all, so it would be a likely place to find French sweets, right?
Hundreds of stalls were set up along the River Rhein, with long tables across a narrow walkway, filled with wine and cheese connoisseurs. The brunt of the stalls sold cheese and wine from France, but some also offered crepes, olives and a variety of bread. I counted two pastry stalls, and only one of these sold macarons. Honestly, the ugliest, most unappetising macarons I’ve ever seen.
My apologies for ending another week with a doll repaint, but I’m so excited about her I can’t contain myself. This, by the way, is what it looks like when a writer doesn’t write.
I shared a preview of Kjersti with you last week, but I’ve since finished her. She’s got brand new hair and the outfit is entirely hand-made, except for her shoes, which I customised. I have no idea how many hours went into her face-up and outfit, but I will tell you the total is much more than I’ve spent on any doll. She was supposed to be a quick project, with a tribal outfit.
Instead, she became a steampunk rocketeer.
In the post about those things I love about Germany, I mentioned random fairs popping up at every opportunity. This weekend, we found one of those. 🙂
The Saarner Kirmes set up in our hometown of Mülheim an der Ruhr, on the bank of the River Ruhr (Saarn is a suburb of Mülheim). We wouldn’t even have known of the fair’s existence, had we not went out to lunch. I was in the mood for currywurst, but we couldn’t find a nice place to have that. So, we went in the direction of the river.
By chance, Kayla spotted activity on the far bank. I say chance, but I really mean her fun-radar. That thing is accurate within half a centimetre. 🙂
This hobby found me in the weirdest way.
I’ve never learned to paint with watercolours. For a control freak like me, watercolour is a difficult medium – it’s got a mind of its own. I’ve always preferred pencils, oil and acrylics, because I can decide exactly where each brushstroke will go on the canvas. And by extension, where it will stay. 🙂
Watercolour is more fluid and less easy to control. Still, I wanted to learn, so I went to YouTube, the Knower of All. (And the Keeper of Tutorials.)
We’ve been playing house in Germany for almost two years, but friends and loved ones still ask how living here differs from living in South Africa. The first ‘differences’ post was uploaded within the first two months since we moved to Germany, then I told you about some of the strange differences, like the German toilet, and the recent what I love post rounded off the selection of posts on the topic.
Or so I thought.
I’d call it a Weekend in Pictures post, only I took too few photos for that. I don’t understand how the picture-drought happened, to be honest. We got up to SO MUCH, I just didn’t think to snap the events. Those moments I did shoot fall off the other side of the spectrum.
I have 32 photos of fish. THIRTY. TWO.
A year or so ago, I read a writing exercise idea on a blog that changed the way I view watching TV. The blogger in question would make notes of, then dissect the episode she was watching. She’d figure out which plot points worked, which didn’t, where the dialogue fell flat, where it rocked, and how she would have improved the episode. By doing this, she swore she learned better writing techniques. (I’m sorry I can’t find the link to this article now.)
I’ve never taken an episode apart like that, but I haven’t really viewed anything on the telly in the same way either. This thing about learning better writing from TV has remained in the back of my mind, so my viewing has become more critical.
My… month in pictures? The monthly recap? As far as alternative titles go, these aren’t the best. Sorry. 🙂
Since I didn’t do a single post with photos from this month, I thought I’d give you an overview today (all my WIP posts were of adventures from past months). I’ve been toying with this recap post idea for a while, since so many of our photos taken in the week are share-worthy, but never get featured because they weren’t taken on weekends.
A lot of my art-loving friends have asked me how I find these pencils and, since you want to read about art related stuff, I figured I’d do a review.
I got these puppies last Christmas and have been using them at least twice a week since. Without spoiling the review, I love them. I’ve had other brands of watercolour pencils before, including the budget range from Farber Castell, but these are my favourite by far.
You all know how Kayla feels about animals. Here’s a hint, she adores them. One of the greatest things about Germany is that we can throw a stone and hit a petting zoo. If you’ve been around the blog, you know we often hang around these kinds of places. Around the end of May, we upped our game and took her to this awesome mini game reserve, Naturwildpark Granat.
The other day, I asked you what you want to see on the blog. The answer was pretty strong in the art-direction. (By the way, if you have more suggestions for the blog, don’t be afraid to share them. 🙂 )
I thought I’d kick this off by sharing some of the artists that inspire me. I might do a separate post of this nature for those folks I follow on Instagram (be a dear and follow me too) since so many of them don’t have YouTube channels. That I know of, anyway. 🙂
Japan day took place on the 20th of May, in Düsseldorf. This yearly event sees thousands of cosplayers in the city, all to see the firework shows, sumo wrestling, samurai artefacts, talks hosted by the Japanese Embassy and so much more.
Most people come to dress up, though. Some come in full costume, so detailed and realistic that they could have stepped out of the fantasy world they’re representing. It’s insane. Others come with no more than a Pikachu hat and a sign around their necks offering free hugs.
Have you noticed that people tend to share their bad experiences online, especially in groups on social media? Well, this topic led to the post you’re about to read. A friend of mine read some really negative stuff about immigration on Facebook and I told her not to believe everything she read online. People love to rant on Facebook, after all.
I realised that I’ve been doing the same, even on my blog. I’ve shared the differences between South Africa and Germany, the oddities we’ve encountered here, and even some of the bad experiences we’ve had, but I’ve never talked about what I love.
So, here we are.
Here’s an interesting turn of events. I don’t know what to blog about.
At first, I couldn’t understand what the hell this caused this sluggishness. Sure, blogging is difficult sometimes. I’ve been doing this for six years and I know ideas dry up at some point. That’s why the blog changed its direction even before I moved here from the Couch. Still, I was on a roll a while back, so this drought is both unexpected and seriously annoying.
Towards the end of April, we visited Grugapark one day. We found ourselves suddenly alone after our fabulous vacation, and needed some TLC. Hence, the visit to the park. We’ve been to Gruga a few times before, but we’d never seen it covered in tulips. Being nature-folk, you can imagine how much we enjoyed this trip!
Some days, it’s difficult to get inspired. I’m having one of those days. I talked about this problem on Friday too, so you’ll know about my predicament if you’ve been around the blog.
The recap version? Today, I have no idea what to blog about and I don’t have the drive to put in any real effort. #yayhonesty This is me winging it.
A quick Google search on ‘how to find inspiration’ offers some basic results. Take a walk, read a book, listen to music. You get the general idea.
This is the end. We had a blast, saw amazing things and bonded with our tribe. We miss them terribly. The house is still quiet. Going through all of these photos somehow amplifies that.
But, before I get too soppy, let’s get on with the post.
While I shared all the main events with you, I have hundreds of photos taken on the in-between days. You know, those ones that didn’t involve buying tickets to enter tourist hot-spots. That’s what I’m sharing today.
Oh, Amsterdam. Still one of my favourite places on earth. The sweet smell in the air (no, not the weed, the pastries :P), the buzz in the streets and the beauty of the city will always draw me to return. Add the fact that we can be understood when speaking Afrikaans and it becomes all the more alluring to visit the Netherlands.
We love these two cities so much, we’ve visited both before. This was our second time in Maastricht, Netherlands, and also our second visit to Aachen, which is a small German border-town. I can highly recommend both.
This was a lazy Sunday trip and would also be the last warm, sunny day we had while the Groenewalds were here.
After the excitement from the night before, we returned to the Pantheon first thing on the third morning.
Well, first thing is relative. The Groenewalds are early risers. An admirable trait, I tell you. Kayla and I, though, *are not* early risers. In fact, we’re some of the grumpiest morning people you’ll ever meet. Nobody wants that. 🙂 Luckily, we walk fast.
In an unfortunate turn of events, we seem to have lost some of the vacation photos. Don’t hyperventilate yet, though. All my photos are still intact. We’ll get the rest at some point in time, but you probably won’t get to see them. Meh.
Our second day in Rome (day one here) was sunny and generally lovely. We hit all the tourist spots, but didn’t actually go into these places. Let’s call what we did the anti-tourist tour of Rome. With three kids under 6, we weren’t going to attempt the snaking lines into the Colosseum or onto Palatine Hill, for example. Still, we found ourselves drooling over the Roman Forum, Altare della Patria and the Colosseum.
There’s a feeling that fills your chest when you round that corner, or take that step out of the train station in Cologne. The first and most undeniable structure in the heart of the city is the Cologne Cathedral – majestic, impossible and awe-inspiring. It claims your every thought and emotion with its sheer size, then slams its hooks into your heart with its gothic spires, stained-glass windows and grotesque gargoyles. You’ll always kind of shiver when you recall this place, never fully capable of wording what it is you felt in the cathedral’s shadow. And an enormous shadow it is.
Well, I’m back.
This vacation was one for the record books. Having friends over was seriously special, and more so because we experienced so many new things together. It was an honour to have them fly half-way around the globe to visit us. All the warm and fuzzies were felt. Having said that, I’ll try to keep the emotions contained while I write this. You know me, a big old softie. 😛 I cry at McDonald’s commercials.
A while ago, a friend suggested that I write something on this topic. Yea, I’ve been trying. Do I have a nice, glowy outcome planned for this post? No. Not at all. #idontknowwhatimdoing
All I know is that this is something I struggle with immensely, especially when I’m obsessing. As in now.
Being in the moment is difficult enough in our day-to-day lives. I mean, we’re bombarded with things to consume from all angles. We can access anything from our phones, which means from anywhere we have wifi reception. So checking Twitter while at a coffee date with a friend is totally doable, and also kind of the norm.
It started with the best of intentions, I swear. I have a half-typed post that was intended for Friday, but my routine was upheaved and that’s where my shit was lost. I went out with Kayla and some friends on Friday morning and returned home after my usual blog-uploading time. I got busy. Kayla had a nasty fall and required more attention than usual (she’s fine now, don’t worry).
Then, after dinner, I realised I’d forgotten to blog altogether. It was a hectic kind of day.
For me, it started way back when with Red Alert 2 and Age of Empires – still one of the best strategy games out there.
Actually, that might be inaccurate. The first game I tirelessly played was Frogger, when I was a wee tadpole myself, then it moved to Tetris and Super Mario. Red Alert and AOE came after that.
Last week, I mentioned the rain being late. Yeah. Not long after I posted that, it came down in buckets. The rain didn’t stop until Friday afternoon, when the weather jerked into spring mode. As in, it went from cool indoors and winter-jacket-cold outside to ‘hey, we’re in short sleeves, please turn off the heating’. I don’t know how long this about-face will last, but for now, the sunshine is great.
For some reason, the weather situation affected me too. I finished the short story edit on Friday, but didn’t write another word for the rest of the weekend. (Total procrastination and zombie-mindset on my behalf.) This weekend was for the family and catching up on some zees. In fact, Jan was the one working for a change. 🙂
It’s a well-known fact (at least if you’ve hung around the blog) that I really admire my editor, Nerine Dorman. She’s taught me so much about writing that I barely recognise my old work these days, and I’m hopefully still improving.
A while back, I grabbed a compilation four of her stories on Amazon. No, I’m not a stalker! *creeps back into my dark corner* I got it for research. Really, to learn. Obviously, I learned something, or I wouldn’t be writing this. 😀 So, this entire post may read like a big quest to gain brownie points, which is why I’ve been putting it off for so long.
The truth is I want to howl at the moon over this novel.
Last year this time, we had maybe an afternoon of sunshine every two weeks. The drizzle was constant, predictable like the beat of my heart. Depressing too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of rain. I come from a place where the thunderstorms are legendary, with rushes of rain like waterfalls and crashing thunder like battles in the sky. Hard rain – I love that. This misty, more-like-wet-wind-than-actual-rain? Hate it.
Still, it left its mark. Last year this time, everything was green. Some trees had already started to blossom and the air smelled sweet and earthy. Spring showers (showers, ha) transformed our surroundings to something magical – something Johannesburgers aren’t used too. I mean, Jozi is awesome, but doesn’t have the same amount of trees and forested areas as we do here in Germany.
Because February wasn’t hectic enough to start with, you know. That’s why I figured I’d do this thing. Like with Inktober, the idea was to make art every day of February, sticking to the fandoms you love.
In the end, I failed to draw every day, but at least I had fun making those artworks that I did.
I’ve been watching Tessa Violet for around two years now and she’s become one of my favourite YouTubers. Why? Well, she’s what I’m not. 🙂 She shares, openly, all of her thoughts and fears, and even rethinks some of her older video topics. If she’s evolved, she’ll explain how she’s learned to accept parts of herself that she previously denied or disliked.
I find that both brave and admirable. Sharing so much of yourself on the internet is (IMO) a scary choice, but it’s also a great way to document growth. And that’s what I’m attempting.
To continue Monday’s tone, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on handling creativity while dealing with angst, in a kind of late reply to a video of Tessa’s. Hers is specifically about creativity and depression, but I find many of the core ideas are totally relatable even when measured against mental issues other than depression.
I know Mondays are supposed to be for Weekends in Pictures, but this weekend didn’t go down in that kind of way. While I do have a few photos, they’re just of stolen moments in between, and I want to keep them for our personal records.
So, this is another update post, to keep you informed and my schedule running. 🙂