Author Archives: Ellen Harvey

Language and the choices we make.

Life throws curveballs at us all. Today’s linklove post looks at language, how we use it and how choosing specific words reflects our biases and prejudices, but also choice and fate (a concept that I am endlessly fascinated by) and if by choosing something else, would get end up in the same place?

ONE. A Choose Your Own Adventure map is a great visualisation at making decisions — sometimes you get to remake the decision, sometimes you’re stuck with it, and but very rarely do you have to make morally right or wrong decisions. Maybe that’s the Choose Your Own Adventure the grown-ups have been waiting for.

TWO. Communication is all about perspective. Language is very telling of the person who uses, and your biases will slip through. It’s never been more important than it is now to be inclusive, and to ask — ask what language people want to hear and how you should use it around them. You won’t know if you don’t ask. Buffer’s Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language for Startups and Tech (but if you ask me, for everybody).

Communication is not what you say, but how it’s heard.

THREE. Why your design team should hire a writer? The question is actually why shouldn’t you hire a writer. Everyone needs a writer. They’re storytellers and communicators. And in the end, we’re all stories.

FOUR. Reading Matters, a bi-annual conference for youth literature, was held at the State Library of Victoria earlier in the year, and Bronte Coates (digital content coordinator at Readings Bookshop, Melbourne) wrote a great recap: Here’s what I learned at Readings Matters.

FIVE. Podcasts are great, and today I’m rec’ing West Wing Weekly — it’s not new, but its definitely binge-able.

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On consistency.

There’s a beautiful meditation about habits. It is muscle memory and a feeling of knowledge: you can do this. Over and over again in your head: you can do this. You have done this before, and you will do this again, so today will be no different. Today is just another one of the many, and the many make the whole; there will, one day, be a whole. No longer do I worry if I will find the time, the space, the mental clarity to do one thing. I have done it before. And I will do it again. Repeat.

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The Wrath & the Dawn: a review

A review of The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I’ve included the back-cover blurb here as the book has not been widely published/publicised here in Australia.

Blurb
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid, she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shahrzad’s wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. Soon, she discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shahrzad is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and break the cycle once and for all.

Review
The love story between Shahrzad and Khalid will stand the test of time. I read this book thrice the first week I bought it; it is one that has left an impression on my soul. The debate inside Shahrzad is one you desperately want her to lose, despite her ongoing (and sometimes overdone, over-emphasised) internal reasoning to why she can not be feeling anything but hate towards Khalid. As she learns the truth — that he really cares for her, despite the consequences — her prison has now become her home. A book that will have you up until 2am wanting more.

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The Raven Cycle: a review

A series full of magic, adventure, dreaming and true love. Meet Ronan (the dream thief), Gansey (the boy-king), Adam (the mechanic), Noah (the unnoticed one) and Blue (the cursed non-psychic) who are searching for a dead Welsh king in the hills of the all-American state of Virginia. The quest will change each and every one of them — and, it is said that those who wake the king will be granted one wish, but the group of five aren’t the only ones searching for the king. A slow-burn read with a heartbreaking climax that you will read over and over again.

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The Raven Cycle: a feeling

The Raven King cover - Book IV of The Raven Cycle, by Maggie StiefvaterIt’s been less than a week since I’ve finished the final book in this series, but the series has stayed with me. As most people found, when Book III came out (Blue Lily, Lily Blue), I read it too quickly, didn’t enjoy it enough. So when The Raven King finally arrived, I knew I had to re-read the series despite how much I wanted to read the Raven King. I wasn’t disappointed. If I hadn’t re-read, I would have missed the masterful technique that went into telling this story. I missed Gansey being the main character — he wasn’t supposed to be, in the end; he was the glue between all the pieces — but I got to appreciate Adam’s development into who he was meant to be. I got to watch Ronan come to terms with who he is and where he came from. I watched Blue accept her fate. I let Noah go. This group, so tightly wound together, unravelled and grew up.

The story follows a dead king sleeping on a magical ley line, and the people trying to find him.

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Like new.

Mitsubishi. Chevrolet. BMW. Mercedes. Porsche. Subaru.

They slid by and by and by. Never overtaking, never speeding up, just lapping. Lap after lap of the circuit.

She turned her head towards the sound. The new car sound. A rumble that resonated through — no, across — the ground, and up, vibrating the constructed stadium. The pristine white, the fluoro blue bars and rims, glided into the stadium, its nose at the edge of the circuit.

She knew this was trouble. Everyone knew this meant trouble.

The white car was on fire last week. And yet, here it was, revving. Ready to go.

A vignette, a 100-word drabble, inspired by a mix of The Chainsmokers (feat. Halsey) single “Closer” and Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Raven Cycle” series.

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The hood of the car.

Are we out the woods. Are we in the clear yet.

He sits on the hood of his car. Waiting. Just waiting. 2am. 3am. 4am. The hours come and go and he never moves. His head is bent towards the ground; his eyes never moving from the dirt on the side of the road. Concentrating on nothing; nothing but the time passing him by.

The sun’s first ray shines over the horizon, through the forest behind the car. He turns and waits, watching.

If you and I were there, we would swear she walked out from the tree line. But that isn’t what happened. She appeared, out of nothing at all.

A vignette, a 100-word drabble, inspired by a mix of Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods” and Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Dream Thieves”.

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Reflection, in all walks of life.

This week’s Friday Five is all about reflection. Reflection on one’s life, one’s creative process, one’s goals. I don’t reflect as often as I should. I plan and set goals really well. I do things really well. The middle bit, the strategy, not my strong suit (at least, for my personal goals and plans). And then there’s the after: the reflection. I don’t do this very much either.

But I’m trying. It’s why I’ve started to journal every (most) days. I’m making myself accountable — the husband and I sit down each week plan out our goals and then check in again in a week’s time. We’re reflecting on the past week. Life is so busy, I’ve started carving out time for reflection.

ONE. 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal, by 99u. Creativity is very reflective on its own. In my world: papercraft and novel writing — they’re both reflective art forms. Papercraft, which I don’t actually do, but have a deep admiration for, is all about documenting your life, recording memories. These are reflective acts. Novel writing, something I actually do, is reflective because I put parts of my life in my novels. Charlie & Cub is set where I grew up. I can visit my childhood environment anytime I like.

TWO. Let’s talk about body shape. We actually won’t be — I’m not a health and fitness blogger (yet! ha.) — but it’s nice to see how the ‘ideal’ body shape has changed over time.

THREE. This post sums up my feelings on being a wannabe writer. I went to uni with Daniel, and we weren’t friends as such, but I know we bumped into each other in class and during NaNo sometimes. I’m eternally scared I’m not going to be a published author, and I’ve become so comfortable with that fear that its not the fear that scares me anymore. It’s not even admitting that I have that fear. It’s that I may not lose that fear one day. I won’t need that fear one day. I’m very comfortable being afraid. (Quote from Dawson’s Creek.)

It’s so real that it’s kept me moving, mostly running from it, never ready for it. … I can’t be let off the hook because I just might get the notion that it’s okay to keep running.

FOUR. It’s hard to find real friendship. I’m not quite as old as Rachel (quickly approaching though!), and she hit the nail on the head. At some point, going out every Wednesday night and getting hammered is no longer, a) going to be fun, b) going to make you friends, and c) an option for your life. Once you tick off all those points, what do you do? Rachel is in a similar situation to myself–we moved to new cities when we got married and don’t/didn’t know anyone. The post does not have answers, but it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one thinking about this.

FIVE. Matt Frazier usually writes about health and fitness, which is great inspiration for me. In this post, he talks about ‘great’ reasons to not do something. But, if you have a reason not to, find a great reason to do it.

BONUS. A fun link because it’s all been a bit serious in this post today: charming illustrated character prints! (Example print below.)Bonus link in the Linklove post: Reflection, in all walks of life.

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