Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History

The One Ring (AKA The Engagement)

Oh?

Hmm, yes, it seems as though it’s that time again. Another fun blog post!

In case you hadn’t seen the previous post, catch up here, otherwise… read on!

Where was I…? Right! I finally had the ring and had to keep it secret, keep it safe. Well, for at least six days. What could possibly go wrong?

After showing everyone at work the fruits of my labour in helping to choose the design and explaining the meaning behind every choice, I felt ready. The holidays were fast approaching and Katie still appeared to have no idea. Only one big problem.

I was soooo tired.

This was an issue because for anyone who knows me they know I have a fake accent which is mostly an unconscious effort to not sound like “a complete hoser eh” and when I become tired it lets loose. That’s because my brain falls back to what comes naturally. In this regard, after every shift, I come home and fill Katie in with all of the goings on of my day. When I was that tired, I managed to catch myself on no less than three occasions ready to tell her some part of my day involving the ring. “Everyone wanted to see the ring.” “So and so asked about the wedding band.” “The ring arrived today.” Luckily, the part of my brain that was trying to keep this a surprise would catch me just as I was leading into the phrase and I would literally stop speaking. Katie would look at me and ask if I was okay, to which I simply replied, “I’m just tired.” Never a lie really.

After that we were roughly two days out when Katie’s lovely Nana, Joan, fell ill and she looked to me for advice. “TJ, we might have to cancel the trip.” She said, much to my inner dismay. I managed to keep cool, calm and collected, considering all the scenarios at hand. “Well babe, what do you want to do?” I swallowed my plans and my feelings, not wanting to be selfish and waited for her answer. “I don’t know…” She was definitely conflicted, but I couldn’t weigh the scales in my favour. If she knew or had an idea of what I had planned, she’d probably be all for New Zealand. “Well, this is a decision you’ll have to make. She’s your Nana, just be sure no matter what happens that you’re fine with your choice.”

The next day she spoke with her Mum, who told her she was in the hospital but in very good hands. Then she decided we should go. “She’s bounced back so many times before, I’d hate to cancel the trip and lose so much money if she did.” I breathed a sigh of relief, but only for a moment. “But what on the off chance that she doesn’t? Are you prepared for that option as well?” She nodded with a smile. “We did see her just the other day, so it wouldn’t be as bad as it could be.” “So long as you’re sure.”

After that scare, I was happy we were going but worried about Joan. I knew Katie would love the engagement but was worried that she would regret her choice if something bad happened. Pushing it out of my mind, I focused back on ensuring I had everything packed and ready to go for the trip. Nothing worse than trying to propose with the promise of a ring I forgot in Australia.

After a short forever, the trip was here and we made it to the airport without a hitch. The ring was stowed safely away in my carry-on luggage and I clutched onto it as we made our way through security. Luckily we were meeting a friend at the airport which distracted Katie from my bags as they went through the x-ray machine.

The plane ride to New Zealand felt shorter than expected (I slept) and finally we were at the start of our Middle-Earth pilgrimage! My bag never left my sight, even through security and when I went to the washroom. Upon collecting our bags and making it through the baggage scan, two security officers walked up to us, happy as could be.

“Can you come with us, you’ve been selected for a random bag check!”

I think we were chosen because I was probably being protective of my bag and Katie was too busy staring at the airport sniffer dogs who were, and I quote, “too cute”. So I feel as though random wasn’t quite the word for it. I thought for sure the person checking the bags would simply pull the ring box out (as it was made of wood and ask what it was and ruin everything. Luckily for us, the guy checking the bags was somehow (in New Zealand) a French-Canadian so we all had a lovely chat. Katie was distracted with the conversation so that when he was checking my bag we made eye contact as he pulled out the clothes on top of the ring and I glanced at him, then to the bag, then to Katie and then back to the bag and back to him with a simple head shake. I saw him pull the ring box roughly halfway up, flick it open quickly and then close it and put it all back the way it came. He wished us well on our travels and winked at me as we walked away. Needless to say, I thought the surprise was done. Another sigh of relief.

The first night of the trip was in Auckland (or New Zealand Sydney as I call it) and I’m glad we didn’t spend too much time there. Although Katie tried to give me another heart attack when she decided she’d shower first so she could straighten her hair. I thought to myself, who brings a straightener on a trip and why for tomorrow in particular?! Immediately my stomach dropped and I felt like she knew. The exchange went a little like this:

“Why do you want to straighten your hair?”

“I want to look good for the photos.”

“What photos?!”

“The ones at Hobbiton.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to look good?”

Convinced the gig was up, I gave in and let her go shower and straighten her hair. She knows… she definitely knows. I thought to myself as she showers. Why else would she want to wear her hair down on a hot day while we are travelling? She came out looking lovely, and I went for my turn to wash away the thoughts.

The next day was on the road to Matamata and Hobbiton! It was an early drive amid lots of traffic, but the cars were lined up way worse heading into the city. Felt like we drove by cars for thirty minutes or more before eventually breaking out and into the rolling hills of the North Island.

Arriving in Matamata we swung by our first taste of Lord of the Rings country when we found a green sign saying welcome to Hobbiton. The town information building was designed to have the signature round entryways and looked like it would have fit into a scene from the movies. From there we went to actual Hobbiton where a bus has to take you out to the actual location where they did the filming and you take a walking tour from there. Our tour guide was quite the legend (as you’ll soon hear) and we were beyond excited to start our journey!

Hobbiton itself is straight out of the movies. Sam (the true hero) had his house still there, among many other relics from the movies such as little props and clothing here and there. Eventually, we made our way to the house on the top of the hill, Bag End which apparently no one is allowed to go up to as it is still owned by the movie company itself. We were at the very front of the group (being as keen as we are) and Katie was starting to pull ahead. “Come on! Let’s get a photo before everyone else comes!” While she waited patiently for the previous group to finish up (her eyes locked ahead) I managed to get into my bag and retrieve the ring and box and shoved it into my back pocket. I could feel my palms getting sweaty, but not from nerves, more so the idea of dropping the ring down the drop in front of Bag End.

“Come on! Let’s get a photo before everyone else comes!”

While she waited patiently for the previous group to finish up (her eyes locked ahead) I managed to get into my bag and retrieve the ring and box and shoved it into my back pocket. I could feel my palms getting sweaty, but not from nerves, more so the idea of dropping the ring down the drop in front of Bag End. Her patience was wearing thin and she was beckoning me to come over to her. She offered her phone up to a lovely older Asian lady (or Indian lady if you believe Katie’s version of events, hotly contested to this day and most likely to our graves) so that she could take a photo or two. The ring wasn’t coming out of my pocket and Katie kept going, “TJ, come on, hurry up!”

Finally, my jeans let the box go. I clutched onto it for dear life and stepped forward a few steps. The Asian (Indian) Lady was poised. Katie was beckoning. My heart was pounding. Now or never, I suppose.

I got down on one knee with a smile. A whole year of planning, finally coming to fruition.

“TJ, what are you doing? She’s going to take our picture!” Katie scolded me.

I had to laugh, half nerves and half the absurdity of her ignorance, and smiled. I produced the box before her and she quickly became very aware of what was happening as she stabilised herself on Bilbo’s mailbox. “Will you go on this next adventure with me?” I asked nervously, very aware of the tour group before and after us. I opened the ring box and the answer was quick and everything became a blur. We were hugging, people were cheering, congratulations were coming from every direction. I slid the ring on her finger and she marvelled at it. I explained quickly that the ring was actually from the same people who designed the One Ring for the movies, so it only seemed fitting that she should receive her own “One Ring” at the same place as Frodo, and then I explained about the Canadian diamond.

With the burden finally passing from my hands to hers, I felt relief. I was never worried about the yes, I knew that. But two other things happened at the same time. The Asian (Indian) Lady handed over the phone with roughly four dozen photos of the engagement (what luck!) and then our tour guide asked us to stick around as everyone else passed by. Once they’d all left he grinned. “No one has ever gotten engaged on my tour!” He laughed and looked around quickly. “Would you like to go up to Bag End?” Both of us leapt at the chance. “That’d be awesome!”

He let us go up, he took some photos and we peeked in and then came back down really quickly since we didn’t want him to get in trouble. Next thing we knew, he was at our side with two of the fake leaves from the tree atop Bag End. “These things fall all the time but it’s a nice free souvenir for you to take from here.” We thanked him so much and went onward to the Green Dragon Inn where we shared a pie, tried the stout (hints of coffee and chocolate) and the cider (alcoholic apple juice, so delicious) and it all began to sink in.

“So how long have you been planning this?” She asked.

“Roughly a year.”

“But you can’t keep a secret!”

“I know. Not too shabby huh?”

Then I told her of all of the deceptions and fibs she’d been told over the months. Stories came forth of how I tried to measure her finger, then had to rely on her friend Emma to get the size. “So she’s not getting an infinity ring?” I laughed. “No, she’s not getting one at all.” (This she didn’t believe until we met up with them today and they laughed at her with a resounding no) Katie looked at me. “How many people knew?” As I told her the list she was blown away. “Mum and Ray don’t know though?”

I shook my head. “I wanted to tell your Mum, but I was worried about her giving it away… and then I was going to tell Ray, but then your Mum would be mad that he knew before her… so for the sake of the surprise no… are you mad?” Katie laughed. “Nope, that makes sense. She’s hopeless at keeping secrets.”

The rest of our pilgrimage into Middle Earth was fantastic, but not without some ups and downs. A few days after our engagement, Katie’s Nana passed away. Then we had an incredible time in Wellington! But then we found out her Grandad’s partner of a few years passed away. Then we took the ferry across to Picton, drove to Nelson and met the owner of the business where the engagement ring was made! Then I found out a family friend passed away at a young age. Then we found out the first-floor frame of our house was up! Then I found out my grandmother was going into surgery. Then we had an incredible time in Queenstown! Then it was time to come home.

It still doesn’t feel too real sometimes, a bit of a blur, but every once in awhile I can see Katie from the corner of my eye, staring at her ring and I know that it all was worth it!

 

Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History

Poor Future TJ

Seven novels.

That’s the plan. A prequel, a trilogy, and another trilogy after that. If I continue on with my current run rate, I’m looking at anywhere between seven hundred thousand to a million words.

A million words.

Nothing makes a person freak out more than adding it all together, instead of breaking it down into manageable chunks. Really, it’s just two series. Present TJ spends a lot of time looking over the lengthy timeline in Scrivener, while poor Future TJ is stuck doing a lot of the writing. Thank the gods for Past TJ. At least that guy got something done!

On the topic of Future TJ, I find myself trying my best to figure out what to do with my stories as discussed many a time here. In light of this, I’ve been listening to some interesting writing Podcasts. I recently listened to one that told me to stop wasting words on my blog.

Every second you’re not writing is a wasted opportunity.

This is very true. This is actually the whole reason I started a blog in the first place, as when writer’s block struck I could come here to get away from my story and do something, anything, to get past that hump. NaNoWriMo was a huge help as I networked with a ton of writers who were struggling just the same as me but now there are still tons in the same boat as me… but there doesn’t seem to be a National Publishing Month (or is there?).

It was brought up in the Podcast that these blogs stick around like a bad smell and if your writing was terrible, then it would be around forever to haunt your dreams. I totally understand where they’re coming from. Hell, I look back at my hairstyles in high school and wonder just what I was thinking. I can only assume this blog will be the same.

In defense of this poor blog, AKA My Diary, I one day hope that other aspiring writers will come here (once I’m rich and famous, HA) and see how insecure and terrible I was at writing. I want them to see the struggle. I want them to see the wins. Most of all, I want them to see themselves as what was, what is and what can be. Bumbling around, writing rubbish and finally winning NaNoWriMo are all a part of the journey and for me, this whole blog is also a part of that.

I might be asking the wrong crowd, but do you lovely folks think there is merit to not having a digital paper trail? Or do you think like me in the sense that this is as much a part of your writing portfolio as the stories themselves?

No matter what, I hope poor Future TJ doesn’t look back on this blog and groan… much like I did when I saw my hair back in my teens. Here’s one for a late TBT!

grade 11
Past TJ! *Groan*

 

Face
Present(ish) TJ!

 

Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History

The Wednesday Post

Today I swallowed the giant lump in my throat and even though my stomach is still doing backflips, I think I’ve made the right call.

Sometimes the stars align and something comes up. An opportunity maybe. I’ve been researching how to submit my story to publishing houses for quite awhile now and today (of all days) I came across HarperCollins’ Wednesday Post website. Apparently every Wednesday, they open the flood gates through this website and unsolicited manuscripts (such as my own) can be submitted. I find this out on a Tuesday night while editing my novel.

Coincidence? Maybe.

They ask for the first fifty pages or three chapters of your novel. After rereading and editing them one last time I just went ahead and did it.

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Oh man, that feels odd. Like baring your soul to a complete stranger.

Am I freaking out right now? Yep. It doesn’t help that it’s two in the morning and I work in… oh god, I should sleep. Do I expect anything to come of this?

Hell no.

Just like I didn’t get a date with the first girl I asked out, I expect this will be a lesson in rejection. Worst thing is, I don’t get a nifty rejection notice. Just nothing back after four weeks. This is about to be the longest four weeks in history. Also any email with HarperCollins in it will make me freak out (so Barnes & Noble… keep your publisher call outs to a minimum) but I’m ready.

I want to tell this story.

I want everyone to meet my characters.

I want to be as successful in writing as I am at work.

Maybe if I stare at the photo below, maybe, just maybe, my dream will come true.

Good luck Jefferson and crew. Hopefully everyone will get to meet you soon.

Jefferson & The Magician's Curse
Cover by Fena at http://pheeena.com/ – I don’t want her work to go to waste!
Moments In History

Following A Process!

After being away from Jefferson and his story long enough I’ve come full circle. It took an editor friend of mine to offer up her services to get me back on board with actually doing a proper edit of my story. At first I won’t lie; It was terrifying. I almost wished she was a stranger, just in case things went south.

I’d have hated to cut her out of my life!

Luckily, things went well and she gave me some tips and pointers (things I already had begun to fix up and briefly edited before sending it onto her) as well as decent feedback. I breathed a sigh of relief and made the decision to print a hard copy of my story.

Oh god. The first, full edit I’ve ever done is coming.

Coffee is starting to sound delicious.

As I reread the portion I edited before sending it out, I cringe at the use of incorrect tenses and wordiness. Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful moments in there but I’ve got a ton of work ahead of me before this is remotely close to submission worthy. Also after skimming my story I did something I absolutely hate in other stories; Make something a big deal in the beginning and then later, toss it out the window. I think that’s going to need to change… or get cut.

When I print my hard copy tomorrow, its going to be two hundred and fifty pages of my heart and soul printed onto paper. Now it’s up to me to take all the blood, sweat and tears and temper it into something incredible.

Well… at this point I’ll accept drivel, and we will work towards incredible.

Hey, I never said this was going to happen over night!

Also this will be my first story that will land in some sort of printed form, so… hurray for that!

PS- Thanks to my wonderful editor friend (she knows who she is) for her unbiased opinion. It might just be what I need to push harder than before!

Moments In History

A Side Note – Anniversary IV

Has it really been four years since I began this blog? Oh my where does the time ago?

As I sit here, clammy from the warm summer eve, I consider the past four years. What have I accomplished on this blog? What have I accomplished in general? Of a personal nature, I’m still not a published author. However, it has been quite the journey.

Today marks four years and I posted a chain post. Getting back up onto that writing bicycle is hard apparently, and nothing says it more than that.

A year ago I posted my three year anniversary post not long after completing my first unpublished novel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse. It still sits uncomfortably waiting for my own revision, but I had moved on while my partner read and added her edits.

Two years ago I didn’t even write in the month of February. Embarrassing. I wrote a post at the beginning of November (Which was about NaNoWriMo… Past me was pessimistic from the start!) and then followed by a post in… umm… April? It was entitled Fear of Failing: It’s A Thing, which was a reflection on not writing and failing NaNoWriMo. But you and I both know that a year later I finished that story. Now, what to do with that?!

Three years ago… The same sort of thing happened. I stopped writing in December (the thirtieth to be exact), only to re-emerge in April once again. I suppose at least my post-Christmas recovery has been shorter this year (Huzzah!). The post for December was about my discovery of making my own personal story Wiki and a rant about social media was my ultimate comeback in April? Ugh. Like the adorable caterpillar, I crafted my cocoon and emerged four months later… an idiot. It must have been important at the time.

Four years ago, (in a land not unlike your own)… a young(er) man (not unlike me) had just moved from one side of the world to the other. With a dusty, unused blog at his disposal, he took up keyboard and mind to start writing anew. I had started this blog in February while I was still living in the frozen tundras of Canada (or Canadia depending on who you ask in Australia). At that point my separation from my ex had turned into a very official divorce and I had begun planning my move across the world like some insane dreamer. I had no time for writing.

In fact, I cleared out all of the posts and drafts before August and the first post welcoming people to my very lonely corner of the internet was the start of a new chapter in my life. Volume eight was my leap back into writing in August. It felt great until I landed my job in three weeks and then I’d been writing sporadically ever since.

Although this is only the four year anniversary of my WordPress. Who knows what else came before this?

If you’d all like to see some hilarious posts from yours truly, I conjured up an ancient demon who spoke only in riddles so that I could find this link. (Okay, I Googled it… but how lame does that sound?) My Original BLOGGER blog. That’s right. That will take you back in time to meet Past Me. Fantastic. If you don’t like him, try to remember Present Me, or hope that Future Me will be a bit better.

So that takes us back nearly… geez… that’s seven years ago. The internet is a funny place hey? The question is… Can I go further?! OH, I CAN.

Deviant Art (Wow, people still use that site?) was nearly a lifetime ago. Well maybe not a lifetime, but I first posted on there in… 2006. I was making my own sprite based game and starting up 3D animation which required my scribbles for a portfolio. In retrospect, for the cost of that course I could have bought a much better car than I had leading up to that point and for the next subsequent couple of years.

Even further before that I was writing on a website called Stories.Com (which has now apparently been sold as Poetry.Com and Stories.Com merged into the now Writing.Com) however there are only cached instances of my username around back from when I was Newbie of the week.

Further still? Out there is a place holder page for Author’s Realm, a website that aspired to be what Writing.Com is now, but back when my best friend and I were still in Junior High School. None of the links work on that page and it appears that whatever they’ve done to the webhost has broken all links and images.

Well, there you go… how’s that for an Anniversary Post? Maybe next year’s reflection will include the struggle to get published and many positive notes! As for now… it’s sleep time (and laptop charging time), hope you enjoyed!

Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History · NaNoWriMo 2014

National Novel Writing Month – Fifty Thousand In Twenty Days

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

First off, I’d like to just thank everyone who kept swinging by and saying hi or cheering me on through this journey of mayhem. I haven’t made many friends this month, and my partner might still be grumpy at me for putting such a focus on my writing, but look at this! I’ve won! I’ve won!

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So the fact that Scrivener gives you notifications when you hit targets or goals is extra awesome. In fact when I saw the above pop up, I almost squealed. Then I had to delete some text and rewrite it before the notification pop up vanished again! The worst part is right now, I’ve just ticked over the fifty thousand mark and my story has only just entered its climax, so its my aim to finish the whole novel before the end of the month (which could mean an additional twenty to twenty five thousand words).

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I have found some odd discrepancies between Scrivener and the NaNoWriMo word counter, don’t worry it has nothing to do with total word count! No, the issue I have is with the session target unless it includes last night before I went to sleep (roughly a thousand word discrepancy!). Who knows… but it has been a long, hard fought battle. For this story I’ve enjoyed every scene (some slower than others) but they all drive the story to the major issues happening at this point of the story and the characters are an interesting enough cast that I think people will enjoy them. I’m so proud of this book so far!DOGEI made this Doge meme today for my crazy twitter updates while I was writing to break up the insanity that is talking to the multiple voices in your head while the world around them crumbles. Not only that, but with roughly twenty five hundred words to go I heard a strange pop sound from upstairs. The toilet then started cycling as if it had been flushed. Without a second thought I rushed upstairs to find the plastic top of the toilet was slightly askew. I thought to myself, that’s odd, probably the heat though. I unscrewed the ring holding the top on and when I removed it from the toilet, the valve shot past my ear (I literally heard a whistle) and landed somewhere behind me while the toilet began raining like some sort of disgusting fountain (All clean water, I assure you). I turned the water off and looked around, and water had managed to get everywhere. I had to wipe down the walls and ceiling, the toilet and floor, the bath and the shower. It was a pleasant distraction.

But, despite all of that and the dogs being crazy and me being on some sort of new diet thing… I managed to do it! I worked full time, maintained a relationship, continued on with life and during all of that wrote fifty thousand words! If you asked me four years back if I’d have written two novels before I hit thirty, I’d have laughed. I thought it near impossible with life constantly getting in the way.

But here we are, and if I can do it… anyone can do it. After all, I’m just a boy who grew up in a trailer park and made some terrible decisions in my life. I’ve made it though and my writing gets better every day. Now… to finish this story and start looking into some publishing options!

Fifty Thousand Words! Twenty Days! *Insert Screaming Like A Fangirl Here*

PS- As a reward to myself… I think I’ll shave now. Or at least trim this beast of a beard. Yes. That’d be good.

Blog Of Writing +1 · Moments In History · NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo Milestones & Thanks!

Ladies and gents! I won’t include a photo of my word count as the day isn’t over but I just managed to clear my halfway mark and hit my daily writing target. The King just monologged his hired murder of the Queen and things are underway! Today has been great for my writing as I am getting back on track and still feeling absolutely mentally exhausted.

Another milestone that I actually needed every single one of you lovely folk out there for, is that I have just surpassed two hundred and fifty followers! My all time views have hit thirty five hundred and apparently I’m gaining popularity in Switzerland! (9 Views today… interesting statistic!) I want to thank you all for not only sharing in this journey with me but for putting up with my rampant posting this month. It has been a wild ride and the blog has changed quite a bit from its titled purpose. I haven’t done any sort of episodic fiction in quite awhile, but it is still something I may go back to as I quite enjoyed it!

Not only have I been productive with writing, I did two loads of laundry (although the sky has turned dark and foreboding), a load of dishes and tidied up a bit. I also make the effort to reply to every single comment on the blog as anyone who takes the time to write something will get a response (something I hope I can continue even if I get rich and famous). Actually the best part about blogging is the interactions I have with you lovely folk out there. I can’t stress it enough, if it weren’t for you I’d have closed this blog down forever ago.

So ladies and gents, your writing… how’s it going? Are you on track for word count? Do you need me to email you every morning to check in? I’m so grateful that you’re all still here that I’m open to these things! Look forward to another post tonight with the total word count for the day! Exciting times! Thanks again for your support and talk to you soon!