Teacher’s Aid

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There’s a surprising amount (to me) of psychology involved in doing an education degree. The book on the left is recommended reading for my course, and the other two I found in the same section. I figured they’d be useful. I might even review them 😉

Blogging teachers! Any books you’d like to recommend to me? I’m all ears!

Feedback Please! New Black Swan Inheritance Cover Design by Emma Wakeling

I introduced Emma Wakeling here in my previous post as my new cover designer, and now I’d like to ask you all for some feedback on the fruit of Emma’s labour:

Book Cover2

What’s your first impression? We welcome all sorts of criticism so don’t be shy to use the comments’ section below! Hell, even email me if you like: nogaku89@gmail.com

Book Cover2

I think it looks great in thumbnail form too 🙂

Emma reduced the moon a little after Jade from Scatterbooker pointed out that the title would look better with an entirely black background:

Before                                          After

Book Cover rough         Book Cover2

I miss the moon being as big as it was, but the title does ‘pop’ a lot more. What do you think?

Emma read the book and sketched some ideas after our first lot of brainstorming. I’ve including the sketches below to show the thought process behind creating the finished product.

FYI you can check out the rest of Emma’s art on Facebook and Deviant Art.

Sketches that lead to the Final Cover:

Anita’s Profile, with her black hair turning into a Swan:

Sketch_Anita

Emma decided to use soft features for Anita, which I really like. It reminds us how young she is, and her haunted expression says to me that she’s got something weighing on her mind, like she’s trying to psyche herself up up to do something. That’s my opinion anyway. What’s yours?

Black Swan, Head Bowing with the Moon

Sketch_Flighing Swan 1

I loved this image too so I asked Emma to combine this one with Anita’s profile. I think this makes the final cover look like the ‘thing’ that’s weighing on Anita’s mind is literally the inheritance of the Black Swan, with the image of the Swan dripping poison/blood into Anita’s mind. I know that’s not quite what the magic is about, but the inheritance has greatly affected Anita’s life, for better and worse. I love the trippiness of the final image and how Emma pulled off the combination of the two previous images 🙂

Other Sketches

Black Swan in Flight with Moon in Background

Sketch_Flighing Swan 2

Profile of Wicked, Snake-like Black Swan

Sketch_Swan 3

Book Cover2

Artist Showcase: Emma Wakeling

I contacted an old chum from my uni days and discovered that she has her own portfolio! So without further ado, here is Emma Wakeling, artist extraordinaire:

Emma Wakeling ProfileNo, she’s not a cat 😉 but she is very much a cat enthusiast, and a damned good artist. Above is a picture she drew of her Teddy.

I decided to ask her if she’d be interested in working on a new book cover for The Black Swan Inheritance, and also work on the book cover for the sequel further down the track (FYI, I’m currently 45k/~75k words into it). And Emma said yes! In fact, she is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

So I wanted to showcase my new book cover designer 🙂 Emma’s art is very versatile: she’s done mythological creatures, landscapes, abstracts, portraits and animals. You can check out all of Emma’s work at her Facebook page and her Deviant Art Profile. Here are the pieces that she’s completed that really wowed me:

The_Griffin_by_Disturb963

This is ‘The Griffin’ which has been very popular on Emma’s Deviant Art site. Someone even got it as a tattoo!

random_by_disturb963-d30pxtb

I love this piece! It’s called ‘Random’. Emma did this a while ago but the image could be perfectly applicable to the mind of the Black Swan Witch! ‘Cept the bird isn’t a swan 😦 How cool is it though?! Very, that’s how much. And Emma has let me use it as a banner! What will I use a banner for? It’s just up on my book page at the moment with some text, but I’ll think of other uses for it.

landscape_by_disturb963-d7exyxi

A beautiful example of what Emma can do with landscapes, lighting and texture. Just gorgeous.

my_brother_s_warframe__nyx__by_disturb963-d7gne2d

I just wanted to add this image in because I think it’s awesome. Emma says it’s her brother’s warframe Nix, which is a character from a Steam game that neither of us play. Cool but.

About Emma Wakeling:

Emma Wakeling is both a geoscientist and an artist. She has currently put aside her scientific self to develop her more creative side which includes studying graphic design. Emma started drawing at young age, she loved to draw demons, dragons and strange monsters. Nothing much has changed since those days, except that most of her drawings are now done on the computer. She is currently looking for any commission work to add her professional portfolio.

If you would like to contact Emma, you can send a message through either her Facebook or Deviant Art accounts.

So… I quit my job today…

Untitled

Actually, it went well. A boss who argues with you for leaving when you want a career change would have to be… well, the stereotypical narcissistic boss. I have had one (well, two, but they were married so…) of those in the past and thankfully, my current boss isn’t like that.

*Phew*

I mean, you can’t be sure of these things until they come to pass, right?

And as Homer Simpson said, “Now, to begin working in paradise.

I handed in my four weeks’ notice (standard for a fly-in, fly-out worker) so I will NOT be working in paradise just yet. I will, however, get a lovely summer break before university starts in February, which I am absolutely stoked about. I will get at least a SOLID MONTH of writing and blogging! How could I not love that?

And then… and then…

*takes deep breath*

I will foray into entirely new territory! Back at uni! Studying! Education! Come May, I will be in a high school classroom undergoing my first practical teaching lessons!

I shall rise to TEACH SCIENCE!!!

I hope I get a good placement, and a good mentor.

I am scared and excited.

Broken Sleep Might Be Good For You

Does anyone else know humans used to sleep twice a night? First sleep as soon as the sun goes down, then we would wake some time after midnight to pray, talk, read, or just make love, before falling back asleep. I had no idea this was the case!

What changed? Effective lighting at night, making the nighttime safer and more active, pushing out our days and squeezing our rest time to a solid block. Nowadays, we expect we should be able to sleep right through the night, and if you can’t, well, you have a problem. Maybe we’re treating broken sleep wrong? Maybe we should embrace the break so we can sleep better? Of course, it might involve going to bed earlier…

I could write more about this topic I just discovered in the most amateurish way, but I found someone who has done it better than I could.

Article: Why Broken Sleep Is A Golden Time For Creativity

And if you want some opinions on the research, there’s this interesting commentary from Virginia Tech.

To be fair, I don’t have much trouble sleeping through the night, but that’s me. I know a lot of people who ‘struggle’ with sleep, and some of them function very well. The article I linked to above suggests it’s because of the expectation of sleeping: when sleep doesn’t come we worry about not sleeping and making the problem worse. Maybe there’s more than one way to go about this sleep business, and we just have to find the way that works for us. If we need to get up and move around and read or whatever, maybe that’s just what we need to do?

A curious idea.

So I Have Bling Now…

Untitled

I have a sapphire ring and a snake ring, to represent my birth month and birth year respectively. A little cheesy, I know, but I like them. My mum isn’t fond of wearing rings so she decided to give me a couple she hadn’t worn in a while, and they’re small, so I can only wear them on my ring fingers. This got me thinking… is it okay for me to wear a ring on my ‘wedding’ finger even if I’m not married/engaged/planning to be anything? It is the ring finger after all – the perfect finger to wear a ring so it seems too restrictive to me to cut it out entirely.

In my wisdom I decided to google the question (mostly out of curiosity, although it did make my decision easier) and was impressed to find this:

The poll is 3 years old but 51% of people basically says it’s up to you. That’s pretty awesome. I don’t want to disrespect anyone who sees that finger as special, but I figure my finger is for me. If I want to wear a pretty ring well… I guess I’ll wear a pretty ring 🙂

Have I over-thought this? Does anyone else get these moments of curiosity? Do randoms actually notice a ring being present or absent and question you on them? My friends and family know I’m not getting married, so there’s no confusion there. It would only be about strangers and why would I care what they think anyway? I wear my rings with shorts and t-shirt 🙂

I’d love to hear your comments.

You’re Not Alone

Well, I had honestly forgotten how good it feels to talk about how down I’ve been feeling. I’ve been counting down until November 27th, when the first round of uni offers come out, and I’ll hopefully be accepted to start a postgraduate Diploma of Education. Until that time comes, I have to suck it up at work.

I NEED a career change. For those of you who don’t know, I literally work in a hole. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea. I’m not a physical person. I don’t have good endurance and I’m not good in confrontations. Why the hell did I think working in the mines industry was for me? Yes, it’s a lot of money, but there’s a reason for that – the jobs out in the middle of nowhere are not for everyone. At least I can say I’ve tried it, but after almost a year of reignited anxiety issues I can see the slippery slope before me, and I am not going any further down that (rabbit) hole.

As it turns out, there are other people at work who have also had enough. I suspect there are a lot of people in the world like that. I should count myself lucky that I can rack it all up to work. Ideally, if I change the work, I’ll be feeling better. I’m not sure if it will be so easy, but I know I need to try something different. Teaching feels like a good move.

Anyway, what really resonated with me was when someone told me, “You’re not alone.” It’s a pretty simple phrase, but when it comes from someone in the same environment as you, or someone who really knows what you’re going through, the relief that washes through is just something else. It really does feel like a weight is removed from your shoulders.

The consistent sadness I feel at work, fluctuated by panic attacks and rare, strange happiness rebounds, I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’m not the only one who needs out. For now, it’s enough to know that I’m not alone. I hope that everyone else who is going through the same shit has their own way of changing their life for the better. Sometimes, talking to people helps you keep going. And then there are times when you know you need to do something more than talking. I guess I’m at that stage.

You’re not alone.

Exploring Accents

Angie K over at Not Another Tall Blog started this conversation, and Ellen Hawley followed it up on Notes From The UK. They both got me thinking about my own strange experiences with my accent, and how I unsuccessfully tried to incorporate it in my writing (I’m no J K Rowling, that’s for sure).

Where My Accent Comes From

Australians don’t have strong regional distinctions like Americans do (and especially nothing like the British). I think we’re similar to the Kiwis (but you’d have to ask them – if it’s one thing I’ve learnt as an Australian is DO NOT try to speak for the Kiwis) in that our accent can be loosely divided up into “country” and “city”, or maybe more simply “strong” and “weak”. I definitely have a weak/city/international/whatever accent.

My dad grew up in Mt Isa (one of the last strongholds of Ockerania) and even though he was sixth or seventh (I forget which) generation Australian, he always found the English accent attractive. I think if you like an accent, you try to use subconsciously, which might have helped since he’s been living in Brisbane (state capital city, not big by international standards but still, it’s a city) for most of his life now. Now I can only hear a slight twang very rarely, and once, about seven years ago when I was still at school, my dad asked me if I was fair dinkum (ocker for, ‘are you for real?’) and I did a complete double-take. Looking back, I think that my reaction spoke volumes.You know that saying you can take the man out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the man? Yeah, my dad did his best to get the country out of him, and only the dregs remain. That’s why I was so surprised when he said something ocker – it just didn’t happen, at least, not around me.

My mum was born in England, spent primary school in Fiji and high school in New Zealand before settling in Australia. Okay, that makes it sound like she was part of some well-to-do family who went ‘visiting the colonies’. For the record, I am what I would call middle-class, and both my parents hovered around the lower middle-class mark for a long time. Never well-off, but never poor either. Anyway, I think I get most of my accent from my mum. To anyone in the city we sound Australian. Growing up and in school, no one questioned my accent.

As soon as I started working in the mines, it was another story.

What Australians Think Of My Accent

To be fair, mining is an international industry. I’ve worked with Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish, Italian, South Africans and New Zealanders, all in Central Queensland, Australia. So you get all sorts, even if most of the people I’ve worked with are Australians.

The country Australians speak with a varying nasal twang, and if you’ve heard a crow caw, then you’ve heard a drunken bogan trying to speak. Well, swear at you, at least. A strong accent can be indecipherable, especially on the radio. It just sounds like fast-paced mumbling.

I SOUND NOTHING LIKE A CROW!

So out bush, with the expectation by most that the scientists like myself are on 457 working visas, my fellow Australians would hear me speak and assume me foreign. Most thought I was English. Some even tried to guess the region of England. I think at least one person thought I was Welsh, and a surprising number thought I must be Irish.

I have to admit, sometimes I like to pronounce my ‘r’s. I don’t understand why we would have this incredibly useful letter and not use it. I do like the Irish accent (who the hell doesn’t?) so maybe I am a little guilty of putting it on occasionally. But it is only slight, and I think that, when you combine it with my light Australian accent that somehow marks me as an foreigner, they hear the ‘r’ and think, “Oh, so she’s Irish!”

At least, this is the conclusion I draw when I try to explain it.

So I am no longer surprised when people say:

“Have you seen any Koalas yet, love?”

“You know, my grandmother was Irish.”

“How are you handling the heat?”

“You miss home much?”

I like to think it’s a compliment. I like to think that I am trying to pronounce words properly and completely, instead of running them all together with very little change in tone. But when a guy from Liverpool thought I must be from some toffey-nosed English family who might be 189th in line to the throne, I began to wonder just what my accent sounds like.

The thing is, I have no idea.

Who really knows what they sound like? Unless you listen to regular recordings of yourself, which I assume actors or presenters might do but I can’t think of anyone else. And then if you can identify how you speak, how can you change it? The thought has made me realise why some speech pathologists would get paid so much.

Harry Potter

‘D’yeh think yer parents didn’t leave yeh anything?’

‘But if their house was destroyed -‘

‘They didn’ keep their gold in the house, boy! Nah, first stop fer us is Gringotts. Wizards’ Bank. Have a sausage, they’re not bad cold – an’ I wouldn’ say no teh a bit o’ yer birthday cake, neither.’

Has anyone else tried doing this????

Accents can be such a strong part of a character’s identity. Anyone who has read Harry Potter will instantly know that was Hagrid speaking, even if they didn’t recognise the scene. Where would Hagrid be without ‘yer’?

I had played around with accents, and I gave up. Maybe I should try again, since it can bring such colour to dialogue if used properly. Of course, if it isn’t used properly then the dialogue is unreadable, unenjoyable, and just plain nonsense. Which is what happened the first few times.

It says pewter on yer list

I don’t even need to look that one up.

P.S. For some reason, my thirteen year old copy of The Philosopher’s Stone smells faintly of white vinegar. I wish I knew why. Maybe it was packed amongst the condiments when we moved house? I hope not, but at least it looks fine.

Lovely Desperation

I think we all get a bit desperate sometimes (unless you’re completely satisfied with your life in every way, in which case, well done. Seriously.). This past year I’ve been fluctuating between different directions of desperation. I desperately want to quit my job. Then I desperately want to be able to enjoy my job because hey, it pays pretty good and my life would be fine if I could just learn to like it. But when I’m working, I just want to write. When I’m working, I just want to read. I don’t see the pay as a reward for hard work – it’s just a reminder of how much time I’ve wasted. That’s honestly how I see my work: wasted time.

I know a lot of you out there are artistically minded. You love imagination and beautiful things. Some of your are even fortunate enough to make a living doing you enjoy. Of course, fortune isn’t the whole of the matter. You invest the whole of yourself into what you do – you threw caution to the wind and put your heart and soul on the line. I desperately want to do the same.

But I’m just so damn practical!

Maybe practical isn’t the right word. But it’s something cold like that. Logical. Calculating.

Pessimistic.

I like to think of it as realistic. I went straight from high school to uni because I was realistic. I went straight from uni into a full-time job because I was realistic. I thought of these things as starting my life. Building a foundation. But how was my life founded? What was I building towards? I find myself surrounded by people who are truly invested in their careers but when they talk about them I completely lose interest. It would be so easy if I was as driven as them. If I were so motivated towards ‘progression’ and ‘advancement’, then things would be simple.

But the truth is, I want to stop.

I don’t care about working towards the next step up the ladder. I don’t care about gaining experience. I just don’t care about my work.

Then that little voice crops up again – anything could happen in the future. Anything. Bad things. Things that cost money, and will always and continue to cost money. What are you going to do then if you quit now while you’re still able to work?

I hate being realistic. Reality sucks. I worked that out when I was fifteen and I found out ‘adventuring archaeologist’ wasn’t a real job. That’s why I started writing. My first book was about the search for Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s secret tomb. So why was I trying to act in accordance with reality? Because I can’t run away from reality. I can’t hide from reality. But I bloody well want to sometimes.

Do you ever have a certain feeling bubbling up inside of you that you are doing the exact opposite of what you are meant to do? That desperate drive to be who you really are, and damn the consequences? It would be so liberating. I could be so free.

But I can’t escape reality. So the argument goes around and around again. I want but I need. I need but I want. I’m not even sure which is the want and which is the need anymore. Do I need money or fulfillment? I suspect my perspective is skewed, but I’m not sure where the bias lies. What’s more important to me? What will matter more in the future? I’m just stuck in this state of desperation, swinging between positivity and negativity.

I don’t know if you could tell, but I had a fairly shit day at work.

Ugh, I know I’m in a bit of rut right now. I love this blog, and I love writing and I love reading, and work isn’t preventing me from doing any of these things that I love. After all, I still have a bit of time at the end of the day. Maybe tomorrow I can afford a better perspective. But right now, I just needed to rant. I’m sure you’ve felt the same at times. Thank you for giving me this space to voice myself, even when I’ve gotten a little ugly. Please feel free to rant and rave at me whenever you feel like it – now that I’ve put you through this, you have every right to do the same.