Friday, 30 December 2016

Q+A Vlog - woot woot!

Here we are at the end of the year already! I hope you all had a great Christmas full of joy and laughter. To celebrate, my vlog is up and ready!!!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who submitted questions!
When I published the original post, I was worried that maybe I'd get, like, five questions and no one would really be interested. But then questions started exploding everywhere and I think I ended up with seventy-six questions. Which is waaay more than I could answer in a reasonable amount of time. So a huge thanks because that was an amazing encouragement for me.

I've tried to answer at least one of everyone's questions. And for some of the larger batches (cough cough like the batch of 41 questions from one person. I'm impressed whoever did that) I just picked some of my favourites/randomest/interestingest.

Apologies for the lengthiness of the video. We cut it down as much as we could without skipping out more questions. Hopefully you'll be able to find a spare 17-ish minutes.

So here we are! My first ever vlog revealed for you, my readers!

Okay, so I DO NOT remember jiggling my legs and tapping my fingers almost constantly while we were videoing, but apparently I was. Welcome to me. (maybe that's why I became a writer and a musician, so I could tap my fingers and it would do something other than annoy people with the constant movement.) Hopefully I didn't mumble too much, and our Aussie accents weren't too hard to decipher. xD

I'd like to do a quick shout out to my wonderful and amazing sister Alice who joined all the videos together (the camera kept cutting and dying for the first ten minutes) and editing it all into what it is now. You're an amazing techo head.
And thanks to Clare for reading out the questions and adding your additions to the fun. And for supplying the camera. (and for howling duets of doom with me when it kept cutting out)

Thank you all again. Tell me your thoughts in the comments, because I'd love to know how this worked out from your end of things!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Rejoice in the Day

Christmas is nigh. And with Christmas comes much busyness. Last minute organizing presents (if you're anything like me- cough cough), getting decorations up, music, family, finishing up school for the year.

But through all of that one thing should stand out.


Christmas is to bring joy and hope and peace to the world. In the most amazing example of selfless, sacrificial love, God sent his Son to us -His enemies- to show us his awesomeness and to die to give us new life.

Life can be stressful, and Christmas too. But through that, can't we take the time to step out of the chaos and really realise what it is that we're celebrating?

For me, I love the chance of holidays to just pull out of the humdrum of day-to-day life and be reminded to marvel at the amazing and awesome things our God has done, and to give Him all the glory.

An internet friend of mine recently did a post on A Time of Peace and that was partially my inspiration for this. It made me start thinking about what I actually think of when I hear the word Christmas. Do I skip to thinking about food and fun and water fights and miss the all-so-obvious Christ? It seems so obvious, and yet it's still so easy to forget.

One of the Christmas songs I quite like is 'Born is the King (It's Christmas)' because the words are so true, and I feel that they really display how Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus. And to celebrate him joyfully.

It's a time to lift up your voice and sing His praise. A time to rejoice with great joy. Because even though life is tough, He is shaping us, and He is working in us. And we can't lose this fight.

Because in Christ the victory is already won.

And if that isn't something to rejoice about, I don't know what is.

So take the time to feel the joy! Pause in the busyness and thank our great God for all that He has done. 
Spare a moment or two, and REJOICE.

This year might've been tough at times, with its fair share of tears and fears and laughter. And maybe next year is looming ahead with deadlines and plans and things that are just so impossibly far beyond your control. And y'know what?

That's okay.

Because our God is bigger than anything we could ever face in this world. And He is holding our lives in His hands.

I can't think of a safer place to be.

Go spread some Christmas joy!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Musical Chair-uh Tag

Awaaay back in October my sister Clare tagged me for La Etiqueta de la Música. Aka, the music tag.

And now, two months later, I have finally gotten to it. Sorry about the long delay, but it's finally here! Maybe it'll be worth the wait...maybe...probably not...But thanks, Clare, for tagging me, anyways.

And straight on to the tag! Hm? What? Rules??? Mmhphf. Well then, here are the tag rules:

1. Thank the person who tagged you.
2. Answer the questions.
3. Tag others.
4. Add your own question to the tag for your nominees to answer.
5. Include the rules in your post.

Well played, rule number five. Well played. You thought of everything.

But now. Straight on into stuff!

Do you play any instruments?

Indeed I do actually! I play... *clears throat*

Piano - sorta, not very well though. I've recently actually started teaching myself chords.

Flute - since, uh...maybe 2013? I don't actually even know. But I'm best at this anyway. I'm in the senior (senior, in this case, meaning braver, crazier and maybe slightly better/more confident) town band

Guitar - I can't say I'm a super pro at this. I started in about November 2015.

Violin - I bought it (yes, with my very own money. Hence I am now broke. Interesting fact for all of you: subtracting $600 for a musical instrument makes the level of money one possesses a lot lower) on the 24th of February this year and started lessons some time in March. I've got about four pieces through book/grade 3. (Um nooo. That isn't exactly normal to have finished two and a half grade books in 10 months...cough cough)

I have several future ambitions including banjo and cello, buuuut *sigh* I've heard they cost money. I'm sticking with learning violin for a year or so yet, though.

What is your favourite music genre?

*looks at question*
*tilts head sideways to see if it looks any better that way*

So I'm not exactly sure what 'genre' means in this context. I like things with energy. Slow boring stuff makes me bored. (no surprise there)

How about soundtracks? Is that a 'genre' of music? I listen to them. Bourne soundtracks if I'm doing something with explosions. LotR+the Hobbit take a pretty high place in epicness, but if I listen to them while writing I usually get a bit carried away listening into the music and flailing over the EPIC violin and flute and cello and agh, all of it. Oh hey, look at that, I'm already distracted just thinking about it. Ahem, back on track. How to Train your Dragon 2 if I'm more epic adventure in a possible fantasy/medieval place. Skyworld (two steps from hell) and various things by Lindsey Stirling come into the scene at various times too. Also Star Wars. Star Wars is cool.

Or if I'm going for something with words, it's probably one of three most frequent options: Bel Thomson, Sons of Korah or Plajerise. Come to think of it, my non-Aussie readers probably haven't heard of any of those peoples, because they're all Aussie. So. *points everyone over to youtube* If you want specific recommendations, just ask me in the comments.

Is there a music genre you absolutely cannot stand?

Sloooooowwwww and steeeeaaaddyyy. It's just meh. Like, sometimes I go to a CD list and pick out all the slow ones and make sure they don't play. I'm totally for the exciting pieces with cool baselines and epic brass melody and this insanely difficult but insanely cool sounding violin backing. cough cough like Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit soundtracks. That I can fall asleep listening to and dream epic dreams of orcs and dragons and swords.

What is your favourite way to listen to music? (CD, vinyl, MP3, radio, etc)

With my ears. I find it the easiest way, because meh. Somehow my eyes don't do it as well, and my nose just can't get it right. . .Sorry. That just came out without me meaning for it to. *vaguely realises it's probably not a good idea to try write a serious post at ten at night*

The CD player kinda died a while back, but then my violin teacher loaned me hers because she wanted me to practice along with the CD recording. So I use that sometimes. I only have internal speakers on my desktop computer so generally I listen to it from the laptop while I'm writing.

What/who are your three favourite bands/singers?

Looks like I already answered that. Oops.

Bel Thomson takes the tops, because she's really inspiring and her songs are so beautiful and amazing. Also I've met her, which is epic. She's a super nice person.

And while we're on singer/songwriters that I've met, I've got to mention Colin Buchanan 'cause I've met him as well. Not as personally as Bel, but I've been up on stage with him at the God Rock concert that we went to several years back. My sister and I dressed up our dad in the armour of God. Good ole' Colin. I grew up listening to his songs and learning memory verses in song form because 'Colin sings that!'

I'm a little unsure what to say for the third. Playjerise is cool. Sons of Korah is great. The exact wording of the question rules out soundtrack composers, so that's out of bounds. I've been told (by various strangers and internet friends alike) to listen to Twenty-One Pilots and Skillet and a couple others but to be honest I haven't gotten around to it. And obviously, a skillet is something you cook chicken on, I'm sure of it. *sage nod*

Random extra question of Clare's addition:
Do you have a funny story to do with playing music or band, if so please share it?

So many choices. I have so many funny stories that I just don't know which to pick. *thinks* 
*cue mind going completely blank* 

Conductor: So during those bars of rest, what are you thinking about? *looks at the flute players*
Flute player A: Uh, the notes we were going to play next...?
Conductor: I see, anyone else?
Flute player B: I was counting. One- two, three, four. Two- two, three four...
Me: *thinking* Well. I was thinking about pizza. Should I have been thinking about pizza? I'm not sure. I think maybe I wasn't meant to be thinking about pizza.

Sadly I wasn't asked to say what I had been thinking, because otherwise it would've been rather interesting. And probably one of the frequent occurrences of me making the entire band laugh. Sometimes I'm even amazed at myself.

And now. The rules are right at the top of the post one will notice if I don't tag anyone or invent a random extra question. (cough cough)

So I will take my leave. If you wanted to do this tag, go right ahead and steal it. (and tell me in the comments 'cause I wanna see)

(Quick side note, this is the last day you can submit questions for my vlog before I'll be closing it off, so if you haven't had a chance yet, jump over to last week's post and drop in a few questions. If you've already done it YAY! Thank you all so much! I'm really looking forward to it.)

Do you play any instruments? (or sing, singing can count)
Any funny music related stories?

Friday, 9 December 2016

Serial Story: What's next?
(also) VLOG (questions needed)!!!

Before you get too excited, I'm starting with the first half of the title...After last Friday and I finished my serial story, I realised something. I was stuck.

I had no clue what I was going to be doing next.

And now, after much thought, I am excited to tell you... *drum roll*

I'm still stuck.

Ahem. Yes. Or maybe I'm not so excited to tell you that.

I've massively enjoyed writing these serial stories, and they've been great practice. But SS+S finished almost unexpectedly and I was suddenly swamped with 'what is next???'

So naturally, I grabbed out my notebooks and pinterest and looked around for the handiest story idea.

Problem being that there were none that would quite work out.

Either a) they were going to be too -ahem- descriptive (we'll just put it like that...cough cough) for my few younger readers. Or b) I liked them too much to release them into the wild, plotless desert of choose-your-own-adventure.

Wherefore I have a problem. No story. There are some options I've thought of so far (because we all know how much I like having 'options').

#1: I could hang around until I get a good idea.

#2: I could undertake to write two serial stories at once.

Number two is a bit daunting to think of really. Writing two serial stories as well as a novel. Big commitment. But the thing is that I want to keep doing these serial stories. And I don't want to make the younger readers have to stop reading because it goes beyond the G(ish)-rated level.

So yes, I don't have any straight answer to all the 'what next' questions, but now you know my thinking.

BUT WAIT! There is another option. I don't know how it will work or anything, and how I'll go about it (so no change, basically). But I have a question for my not-young readers. If you are at all interested, there is a possibility that I could just do one story that would hopefully suit all. Or more, one continuing bunch of shorter stories. I've mentioned Lando Erif before, I'm pretty sure. And I think it's about time he got back on track with another couple of stories.

If you hop over to my writings page you can check out the general synopsis for the stories. Basically: dragons, vegemite sandwiches, jokes, evil fairies, fire-breathing main characters, pizza that totally can knock out a wharfie. Also probably a fair bit of Australian slang that I didn't even know I used. (Definition of a wharfie: a person who works at a wharf. Big, strong. This particular one happens to be Lando's dad and is pretty fun to write the few times he comes into the story.)

Basically what I would do is post on maybe half a short story every week (unless I finally get that idea for a longer Lando story that I've been hoping to get for aggges) and at the end of each story, you guys could give me random ideas for another story. And trust me, this can be very random. For example:

Me: hey guys, I think I'm going to write another Lando story. How should it start?
Dad: *had been reading the back of a chocolate packet* How about...a cocoa bean jumped onto the road?
Beginning of said story now:
   The cocoa bean jumped onto the road.
“Er, do cocoa beans generally do that?” Titus asked with a frown.
   The bean jumped again, bouncing along the black gravel surface.
Thomas straightened his tie. “I dunno,” he said. “But not as far as I’ve heard.”


So there we are. Wait for inspiration, double story, or Lando Erif. Tell me your thoughts.

I know, I know. Now we're getting to the part you're probably all screaming for. I mentioned the word 'vlog' in the title. Why? 'Cause I'm doing a special end-of-year one for you guys.

YES. I repeat. Jane Maree is doing a vlog.

*nervous laughter*

Several people have said I should, and I've been thinking about it for a while. And I had a test run so it wouldn't be my first time attempting a video. Trust me. It was hopelessly insane. I started off trying to pronounce 'vlog' without an American accent. It's actually surprisingly hard. I slipped into so many random voices that don't belong to me, that I'm totally not guaranteeing that the actual thing will even tell you what my voice sounds like. It interesting first experience in front of a camera.

I'm planning for a Q+A so what I need is for you to tap out some questions you want to see me answer. Or...try answer...or...fall off the lounge laughing because I can't even think of anything to say. (and at this stage in my brainstorming, you'll probably get to see my sister Clare in front of the camera too, but that's still in planning)

But whatever happens, it's guaranteed to be awkward. And funny. Well, hopefully funny. Definitely awkward, and hopefully funny. No actually, we all know I'm hilarious.

SO. Before I get more distracted and add another thousand words to this monstrously rambling post...jump over and dump all the random questions you've got for me into this google form! Which will hopefully work. Hopefully.

I can't wait to see all the questions you guys come out with!!! This is going to be heaps of fun. Like...just imagining some of the questions I might end up with makes me laugh. I mean...if the examples are anything like the actual things... cough cough. It'll be good fun.

Oh! And I almost forgot to say when this vlog was going to be posted... *thinks up date off the top of my head* If all goes well, it'll be up on the 30 of December!!!

So what do you think of my serial story thoughts? 
(if you haven't already forgotten about what I said in the first half of the post. any suggestions or ideas or just random thoughts would be realllly helpful)
Is there something particular you'd like to see me do in my vlog? 
(yeah, I know, you already probably said that in the form but...anyway)

Friday, 2 December 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: The Returning

Here we are back again. I can't believe how fast November went. Also how much happened it November. It's all just poof in my brain and I can't work it out.

It was sooo long ago that I last even opened the SS+S document. entire month. And I can't remember a thing. It's all been buried in the dark recesses of my brain somewhere. Thursday morning was like this:

Section title: How even did I title these???
First sentence: Where were they again?????
Second sentence: ...What even is happening...

*turns on music playlist* ooohmyword I love these songs. So many writing memories. Oh yeah. And that time I hid in the chimney. Aw yep, it's all comin' back. I liked Jack, he was a fun charrie. I wanna bring Jack in again. NO JANE. This is the wrap up, no bringing in charries for the wrap up that haven't been in the entire rest of the book. Aww but...but I wanna. BUT NO. But it'd be like -two pages from the end- "Oh and HERE'S JACK RANDOMLY CRASHING THE PARTY" And then all the readers be like " what's he doing here?" "WELL AHEM...PLOT TWISTTT!!!"

So it took a while before I actually started writing. To be honest, most of the delay was procrastinating, buuuut anyway. And then when I did start writing it was a while before I got into the feel of the story. Hopefully it was pretty much right, but I can't guarantee anything after a month of writing something completely different. At least there were no explosions or smashing windows, and that's something that happens a lot in Agent Kit.

And it'd probably be a good idea if you hopped over this link and re-checked over the last chapter just to get it fresh again. A Big Creepy Dark. And if you're behind with any of the other installments just step over to the SS+S page 'cause I've got them all there.

Now to the story. If you're all caught up and know what's going on...well, you're one step ahead of me. :P Here goes.

The Rift rolled under my feet, the warm glow of sunlight skidding on the horizon. Dawn light tinged the water pale blue, the sea stretching away behind to the edge of the world. Cool air played with the hair over my shoulder, blowing it back from my face.

My heart hummed with peace.

It was over. I was finally free.

Marius stood beside me, his eyes battling with himself. A throb in my chest pounded harder every time I looked at him. How could he have let himself be captured so deeply? How could he have given in so fully? I pushed down he accusing thoughts, reaching for the peace again.

It would all be alright in the end. I just had to trust.

He hadn’t said anything since a few moments after it had all ended. He’d looked at me and whispered, “You came.”

Yes. I had come. And Marius was starting to come back as well.

The night was over and morning had come, the Rift was on her way back to land. And then…I still wasn’t sure what came after that. A sound from behind made me turn, and Leonora flashed a smile in my direction.

“What chances you think Altin was healed in that…explosion of Light or whatever?” she asked, jerking her head back in the general direction of the island.

I felt a flash of hope. “Do you think so?”

“I’d bet something on it,” she said. “Maybe not my life,” she added after a moment. “But something.”

Something in me told me that Leonora was right.

“It feels wonderful to be homeward bound,” she murmured, eyes sparking.

I nodded, taking another deep breath of the cool morning air. Home. But where was home for me? With Leonora and Eumin? Back in Feâ Sirih with my father? Maree and Jack? I’d been gone for so long it was almost like I didn’t belong anywhere any more. 

“And what about you?” she asked, head tilting to one side.

I lifted my shoulders in a limp shrug. “I don’t know,” the words came out more hoarse than I meant them to.

She draped one arm across my shoulders. “You do know you’d be welcome to stay,” she said.

I looked up. “But I don’t want to be in the way.”

“Pish, none of that. We could find you a job in the castle quick as niffy and pack a letter off home saying that you’ve decided to stay,” Leonora waved one hand in the general direction of my home country.

The idea niggled in my mind but I couldn’t just never go home. No matter what I thought about it I couldn’t never say good bye. It was home, and home needed me. “I think maybe I’ll go home,” I said softly.

Leonora glanced down at me and then nodded after a moment. “Home is a good place. Don’t worry about anything, we can get you back there safe and sound without a problem. I mean, we should. We were the ones who dragged you over here in the first place.”

Yes. Home was a good place. There was Marius to help return, Maree and Jack to visit.

And who knows, maybe there’d be more adventures after all.

The hum of peace in my heart made me smile lightly. And maybe I had something to tell everyone.

Eumin’s deep rumble pulled me to the present again as he cleared his throat. He tapped Leonora’s shoulder. “Just warning you, Wielder’s on his way over here.”

I shot a glance past Eumin and saw Warin coming across the deck, hand resting on the hilt of his sword. “Oh great,” Leonora muttered through her teeth, turning stiffly.

Eumin’s lips twisted upward at the corners. “Looks like we’re about stuck with this one.”

“Maybe it’s not as bad as you think it’ll be,” I suggested.

He glanced down at me, the smile widening slightly. “Maybe you’re right.”

Warin stopped a few paces away, eyes darting from me and Eumin and then back to Leonora. “Ma’am, I have something I’d like to say,” he began.

Leonora lifted one eyebrow. “And?” she prompted him on.

I skipped my eyes from Warin’s hand resting on the hilt of his sword and to his face. He shrugged awkwardly. “I wanted to say that I’m willing to forget this all and put everything behind us.” He shoved forward his hand, eyes meeting Leonora’s openly.

She paused, a frown flashing across her expression. “You’d do that?” Her voice was surprised.

“Captain Warin Wielder, at your service,” Warin said, offering his hand closer to her.

She considered him for a long moment and then took his hand in her own, clasping it. “Leonora Quest,” she replied.

A smile broke out across Warin’s face and he ducked his head slightly, bowing smoothly. “Pleasure.”

Leonora stepped back, her sword sliding easily from the scabbard at her side, the blade silver in the new light. “How about that duel? I’ve been putting it off for a few years too many, don’t you think?”

Warin blinked. “You…” he stopped, flicking his own sword free, the smile slipping wider. “Ladies first,” he invited, gesturing at himself.

Eumin sighed in mock despair. “It was going to happen anyway,” he said under his breath, just loud enough for me to hear.

Leonora spun her sword in a hissing pattern and then stepped forward, bringing it down toward Warin. He blocked smoothly, the movement almost casual. They circled, the screech of metal on metal attracting the attention of the crewmen. Within a few minutes, everyone was lining the bulwarks watching.

“Looks like we have an audience,” Leonora said. “Shall we skip to the interesting part?”

Warin glanced toward his crew and one side of his mouth turned upward. “Sure, why not.”

They met again, sword turning into blurs of movement as they clashed again and again, each moving too fast to quite catch clearly. The two circled, spinning and twisting, footsteps light on the deck boards.

“What happens if they get hurt?” I leant toward Eumin curiously.

“Games with swords are not to be taken lightly, no,” he replied, eyes fixed on the fight. “But they both know the danger. And neither of them are aiming to hit the other with any more than the flat of their blades.”

I looked back toward the fight. “And how long will they keep going?”

“At this rate, miss, they could be going for an hour or more,” a crewman nearby remarked, leaning against a stiff rigging rope.

“Hours indeed,” Leonora’s voice came slightly breathlessly. “There was that time I hid in the supply barrels for hours so that your Captain wouldn’t be able to find me.”

Warin faltered at the words, his attention breaking for the merest second. Leonora flicked her sword forward with a darting wrist. His sword clattered across the deck, skidding toward the edge. Eumin stepped forward, jamming it between his foot and the boards just before it slid overboard.

Leonora’s sword vibrated slightly in her hands and Warin dropped to one knee before her, head bowed. The crew stood silent, breathing heavily from the sidelines. All eyes fixed on the two fencers.

“Have anything to say?” she asked, the tip of her sword moving to rest lightly on his collarbone. The whole ship watched silently, tense and waiting for the next move.

Warin raised his head and looked her in the eye, hands clasped on one knee. “Will you marry me?” he asked.

I gaped, hardly sure that I had heard correctly. I’d half been expecting a chivalrous acceptance, perhaps a word of praise. But this? The crew members stood staring, jaws dropped loose on most faces, everyone choking on silence.

Leonora looked at him steadily for a long moment of silence. “Well,” she huffed a long breath. “It took you long enough to ask.”

And then the ship exploded with cheers. I smiled, warmth tingling in my fingertips.

Everything was finally going right.


Aaaand you know what? I'm pretty sure that's the end. Like...the end end. I've quite possibly forgotten something important, so if you know of anything I missed, do tell.

But in all, it's over. Swords, Sails + Scoundrels is done.

And I only just sorta got back to it. If only NaNo had waited one more week it would have worked even better but, it worked! I wrote it in the end.

So here it is. Returned for one week before it signs off completely. Thus ends my third and (if I may say so) best-yet serial blog story. (Dusty Red only barely scraping past the border line of 'story' and 'rubbish.' At least I can see that I'm getting better.)

Thanks so much to all of your who've stuck with me through this all, particularly those of you who were there riiight at the beginning, and never dropped out on me. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be where I am today. Thank you all so much. Even if you're brand new, thank you! I honestly am SO blessed to have all you guys.

Now, Jane Maree over and out