Tuesday, May 26, 2015

That ONE time when I was AHEAD OF MY TIME.....

We get idea overload from Pinterest these days, but oh there are some awesomely clever people out there to pick the brains of...and sometimes I'm one of them....YAY!

I have a friend who pins about shoes a lot. Sugar skull shoes, sparkle shoes....you get the idea.

Anyway I recently remembered that back in 2003, Miss 21, who was then about 10, was still doing modelling.  This was before Facebook and Pinterest were around, in Australia anyway, and mobile phones didn't take photos unless you had the latest most expensive version. Even then I'm still not sure they did. Our first digital camera was an absolute CHUNK from Kodak. It took 6 mega pixel photos.  Blocky enlargements, oh my!

They were given a retro theme for graduation. Her outfit was a striped boob tube with a ruffle up top where you're boobs normally should be, and spaghetti ties around the neck, white denim hot pants and we were struggling for some way to dress up her long thin baby giraffe legs. Her hair was quite short at that time so I streaked it and we poofed it up with glitter hairspray.

Scouring through the op shops I came across black platform boots.  I completely spray painted them white first.  Then I sprayed the platform part of the boot silver.  Using spray adhesive I attached fairy glitter from the Stamp It Up! range on the platform of the boot to complete the glitter gogo boot transformation.  These days you would you Modge Podge to hold the glitter in place, or a similar alternative.

But I don't have any pictures!  I never occurred to me to take photos of these awesome boots I had made. Miss 21 didn't win any prizes on the night but the judges came and spoke to me afterwards and they were all talking about those boots!  They were astonished that I had made them.

Anyway I have Googled some pictures to try and give you an idea of what I worked with and how the glitter had looked when completed.

We stored them in the cupboard in separate pillow slip cases but Miss 21 did not stuff them with anything so a couple of years later we took them out to have a look and the white paint had creased where the leather had folded over in storage and the glitter was falling off the base. So we through them out. It was really too late for pics. 

Looking back through the photos from that night, I have pics of Miss 21 standing, kneeling, but not in one single shot can you see those boots. I have scoured my 2003 videos and apparently I didn't tape that year. *sigh*  

These days I'd have 100 photos on my phone just of her boots!

 Oh and before I forget; I paid $10 for the boots from GSI.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Heroes of the Ashes: Book 1 - The Ache Inside Part 1

If you follow my Facebook page Just Ali you will have already heard my awesome news that my book The Heroes of the Ashes Book 1 has been epublished to both Kindle and iBooks.

I wanted to expand & share a little on this event further than just the initial WOOHOOOO! stage.

Being published has been a life long dream of mine but the purpose of being published is only to share a story that burns inside of you and that you wish to share with others, for various reasons.

I was quite happy to release my book for free as I have seen others do, just to get my story out there, but the epublishers I went through, Tablo Publishing, said that both Kindle (Amazon) & iBooks required the author to set a minimum price. So I chose the lowest price allowable. :-)

The Heroes of the Ashes is a story about faith, honour, commitment, love & loss and how different people deal with grief. But don't write it off as chick lit! Its an adventure story set primarily in Western Australia's Midwest region in a fictitious semi post apocalyptic Australian outback and the scope of Esthers journey spans years, without giving too much away.

Since finishing THOTA and editing it several times and once more for good luck before submitting it for consideration, I have been planning and working on The Heroes of the Ashes Book 2: The End of Life As You Know It & The Ache Inside Part 2.

Through the consultation process with readers of THOTA a common theme has been the length of the chapters, as in some of them seem a little short. So I took this on board and looked into it a little bit. From my previous experience with free ebooks they can be as short as 80 pages, which I kind of didn't find very satisfying as a reader. In fact I started not bothering with books that weren't at least 200 pages. I also remember that Stephen Kings The Gunslinger was originally a very small volume, many short stories published separately and then released together as a small novella, but he built wonderfully on that foundation and I hope my readers will feel the same way.

Harlequin has an open submission for manuscripts currently, which they never used to, but they must be at least 60,000 words minimum. So as I write book 2 I am keeping close attention on my word count for each chapter, as I did with book 1 but I have a better frame of reference now. E page sizes are different to word programs and the lines are not double spaced, so I was not aware that Book 1 was 'only' 100 pages until I had submitted it for publishing.

Live and learn.

For Book 2 my aim is to bring the reader a minimum of 5000 words per chapter for hopefully at least 12 chapters. The journey I have mapped out for Esther has the scope to do it. I just don't want to fall into the trap of waffling on for the sake of a word count. Sometimes chapters will need to end where they end. Full stop.

Miss 9 when she was 2 1/2 with The Waiting Woman.

Anyway, I'm so excited to finally be sharing Esthers story with a wider audience. I'm also very excited about the cover Miss 21 & I created. The fact that pictures I had taken months previously tied in so wonderfully to form an image of Miss 9 that coincidently references The Waiting Woman that stands at the HMAS Sydney Memorial right here in Geraldton, well its just a wonderful piece of serendipitous imagery. 

Also in case you haven't seen it yet, below is the cover for The Heroes of the Ashes: Book 2 - The End of Life As You Know It & The Ache Inside - Part 2.  Adorning the cover is my beautiful carefree Miss 5 dancing last year with such abandon at the Sunshine Festival, and a beautiful Geraldton sunset with my children in silhouette.

Finally a big thank you to every one who has been supporting my writing journey & to those who celebrated my joy with me; whether it be via phone call, Facebook, text message, with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. It means so much to me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I'm a little behind in catching up with my party blogs but I am ticking them off the list one at a time.

For my birthday last year Miss 21 bought me all 6 seasons of LOST which we watched through TWICE. I kid you not. I hadn't set out for it to be that way but we had just finished watching all 6 seasons the first time when MIL known affectionately as Mad Nana came to stay with us and she had never seen LOST so the kids were pretty keen to share the experience with her, and off we went again! :-/

When September was rolling around I felt I needed to start looking ahead to Mr almost 15s birthday in November. The kids were bugging me to watch LOST for a THIRD time and I was determined to hold out against their pressure. But that's when the idea for a LOST themed party started to come together in my mind.

As always once the theme was set I created my Pinterest board, which can be found here.

It didn't seem like it would be that hard. There was plenty of sites on Pinterest sharing the Dharma labels for the food and a few extra easter eggs for the die hard fans like us who had hung in for all 6 seasons. I did a trip to our local food wholesaler to see exactly what I could get in super sized containers, mostly condiments, and planned the menu around that.

Super sized items I purchased were;
Tomato sauce
Barbecue sauce
Peanut Butter
We put Dharma labels on those.


Miss 5 & 9 as child Kate & Shannon trying to get a mobile signal on the island.

I purchased a box of small bottles of water & another of generic soft drink, the size similar to what you might be given on a plane, and we attached a mix of Dharma, Oceanic Air & Ajira Airways labels on those. At home we also use shop brand oj concentrate and the suppliers had just changed from cartons to little plastic bottles so I saved those over several weeks, washed them and the day before the party refilled them with orange juice. They were also given the Dharma label treatment.
Hubby, for the greater good, purchased some large buckets of KFC several weeks before party day. Once empty we cleaned them as best we could. From the supermarket I purchased pre-crumbed & spiced chicken that we cooked in the oven. The KFC buckets got covered in Mr Clucks Chicken labels and then filled with the oven fried chicken.

Miss 21 dutifully applying labels.....

I wanted to play LOST music while guests were arriving, eating and generally waiting for the show to start. I was able to get both musical scores and songs played on the episodes online. There are complete lists for both at LOST wiki.

On the day we cooked pork on a spit roaster but we referred to it as Boar.  Accompanying all this was bread rolls, Dharma labelled margarine and corn chips in bowls. It was a fine feast.

I had also used the Tiny Teddies biscuit recipe, found here, to make fish biscuits; the fish shaped cutter being purchased from eBay.

Little fish biscuits & my 'sand' for the cake.

But the best part of the night was the outdoor cinema we set up, fire pit burning off to the side for that authentic island feel, and as soon as the sun went down, Mr 15 and his friends settled in to watch as much LOST as they could in 3 hrs.

'Russo, Desmond & Hurley'

'Sayid, Sawyer, US Marshal & Kate, complete with pistol & hand cuffs'

'Kate & Desmond'

A week or two before the event Mr almost 15 approached me with concerns that his friends wouldn't get the references and the 'in' gaggs because none of them had watched LOST. But as I explained to him the theme, the kitchness and in jokes were for him. It was HIS party and he liked LOST. His friends just needed to turn up looking like a cast away or someone from the show, which we gave them information about on the invite, eat the food and enjoy the show.

I chose my favourite posters & images from my Pinterest board and printed them off to hang up outside to help set the mood.

Miss 21 came up with the idea for the cake, and thankfully it was a nice simple idea that would be easy to pull off.

After I had purchased the fish cutter I revisited my Pinterest board and rediscovered the Pin for the large fish biscuits Sawyer gnaws on in the polar bear cage. It included the recipe and a print out for the very large biscuit. I decided these would be great to put 1 each in a brown sandwich bag as the take home party bag, which they were really too old for but it was funny. Included in the bag was their own copy of the recipe and the biscuit template so they could make more at home if they wanted to.

When it was almost time for the evening to come to an end we quickly showed them the recap from the beginning of Season 6; which condenses 5 seasons of LOST into 8 minutes. Feedback Mr 15 received from the party was that most of his friends had gone home and continued to watch LOST, as they had really enjoyed watching it at the party.

Because of the big party year we had last year, with baby showers and 21sts etc, our LOST party was quite simple. As you'll see from my Pinterest board, with more time you could take it to a whole other level.

Hubby as 'John Locke'

I myself left it too late to order my "Still recovering from LOST" T-shirt so I went as pregnant Russo, which surprised a few parents doing the drop off....yep they thought baby no 7 was on the way.....obviously a very convincing costume. Lol.

"It only ends once....the rest is just....progress." Jacob.