BLOG BITE with…Vanda Vadas

Vanda is another author in our special Little Gems feature Blog Bite and following her 2009 (Turquoise) edition placing we asked her to share her tips and her inspiration when it comes to writing a winning short story….

So firstly, Vanda, tell us about writing short stories …

In 2009, Little Gems (Turquoise) was the first short story competition I’d ever entered, and I was fortunate enough to place third with UNBROKEN BONDS.

This year was my second attempt and I’m thrilled the judges liked my story, A PASSIONATE LOVE, enough to see it published in the Garnet edition. And what a cover! Absolutely gorgeous. 

Both of my stories were inspired by location: outdoor locales that have left an indelible imprint on my memory and in my heart. Secondly, the characters evolved as a result of emotions inspired by the location. I draw on memories, personal photographs and picture books to help with tactile relevance, be it landscape, seasons, night or day, or using the five senses etc. Then I try to marry the descriptions and background information with compelling characters and what their point is in being there.

The reader might twig early in the piece as to what is going on beneath the surface of my stories. If not, then all the better. I’d like to think they are pleasantly surprised and that the ending has a feel-good, lasting romantic impression on them.

On a final note, whether meeting the maximum word count, or falling just shy of it, I prefer not to compromise quality for quantity. Padding out a story simply to get words on the page does not guarantee a satisfying read. Better to maintain the integrity of the story, it’s characters and the message within. 

Three words to describe me…

Hmmm. My adorable husband of 22 years threw a few words in the ring, yet we agreed on the following…

I’m loyal to the nth degree. Family and friends know they can count on me and I’ll go out of my way to support, assist or ‘be there’ for them. The same can be said for my work ethic. I can thank my parents for that.

Compassionate, sometimes ridiculously so, even when  viewing a commercial for a teary Disney movie.

Orderly. I’m talking ‘methodical’ and ‘tidy’ here. If my physical surrounds are a mess, then I don’t think straight. I remember as a school and Uni student, I couldn’t study or do assignments effectively unless my room was tidy. To this day, if our study is not reasonably tidy, the writing doesn’t flow so well.  As for my husband’s habits? I guess you could say opposites attract.

It’s a bit daggy but I love…

Astro Boy. At the age of six, he was my first real character ‘hero’. And Marine Boy came a close second. The fact that they are cartoon characters had no impact on me. They had super powers and they righted wrongs. I use to wish I could fly like Astro and swim under water like Marine Boy. I’ll even confess to owning a beach towel with none other than Astro Boy on it. Daggy, I know!

Saving for…

A family holiday. Skiing sounds good. We just have to organise work and uni timetables.

Three things people might not know about me are…

How’s this for some random facts… I was born in Papua New Guinea, played violin (many years ago) in Sydney with the Kuring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, and I have a red belt in Karate.

Favourite genre…

Historical: Jane Austen, Pirates, Native American (just love The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis) and Paranormal: Vampires (enjoyed watching the TV series, Moonlight).

Currently reading… 

I’ve just bought MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by Anna Campbell, even though I’m 50 pages into A YEAR AND A DAY by Virginia Henley (Scottish Historical).

Plotter or pantser…

Being ‘orderly’, I do like to plot, however my stories evolve from ‘scenes’. It’s like watching a movie in my head and then I piece the scenes together to complete the plot/story.

I would most like to meet…  

OK, so I’ll put it out there. I’d love to meet Jon Bon Jovi. When my husband and I lived, loved, and laughed our way through Europe back in the late 80’s, we had to manage on a lean daily budget. I’m certain Bon Jovi’s song ‘Living On A Prayer’ was written for us. I’m still a fan of theirs. See? Loyalty. 

I write…

Mainly historical. I’m currently working on one with a Scottish flavour. Both my Little Gems short stories blend the past and the present.

GIVEAWAY – Vanda has a special A5 Lined Journal (gorgeous red material cover with heart on it) and a 3-in-1 pen to give to one lucky commenter. She hopes it will encourage the winner to jot down their ideas for the next Little Gems comp, or for creative writing thoughts, or perhaps use it at the conference (if they intend going).

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Congratulations Suzanne Brandyn who wins that special journal.

Thank you, Vanda, for letting us know a little more about one of RWA’s Little Gems authors.

 
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28 Comments

  1. Sandra Harris

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Vanda!

    Happy Easter. Astro Boy and Marine Boy – yeah baby! And who lives in the deepest, darkest Africa? Kimba the white lion is the one. 🙂

    Well done with the short story success, I look forward to reading it.

    Sandy (from Logan)

    Reply
  2. Hi Vanda,
    How nice to learn something about the 2011 Gems. I know all your names but not many of the faces.
    Lis
    Little Gems Manager

    Reply
  3. Bronwyn Houldsworth

     /  April 22, 2011

    Vanda

    Well done, you! Looking forward to seeing your story in the 2011 collection.

    Bron

    Reply
  4. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Sandy !
    How nice to hear from you. And yes! Good ol’ Kimba. I loved that show too and, like you, remember the words to the song. I have to give Prince Planet a shout out too. Gee…I AM Daggy !
    Thanks for the congrats.
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  5. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hello Lis
    Thank you for stopping by. I must thank you again (as well as the other comp managers) for all the time and effort you devote to the RWA comps. Priceless!
    Vanda

    Reply
  6. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hello Bron !

    Thank you… my fellow HOG’s crit group member…for your congrats. You are a ‘gem’.
    See you next week.

    Vanda

    Reply
  7. Vanda,
    Great to find out a few insider bits and pieces about you,
    Know there is at least one other member born in PNG, and 2 of my kids were born in Lae,
    Suzi

    Reply
  8. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Suzi
    Talk about a small world! I was also born in Lae and have spent some time in Port Moresby as well. I absolutely loved my childhood in New Guinea. Ah…memories…
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  9. Hey Vanda! – and mum 🙂 While I’m not eligible to win I love your giveaway idea – and Lis, isn’t it nice to put Little Gems faces to names. Good luck everyone.

    Reply
  10. Zoe Younger

     /  April 22, 2011

    Congratulations on your comp success Vanda! Love hearing the story behind the story and it’s nice to put a face to the name – now if only I could put name to face at conference I’d be set! Looking forward to reading this years’ winners.

    Reply
  11. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Jenn

    Mum is thrilled to think you said ‘hi’ to her too. We’re heading off for a walk in the sunshine.
    Thanks for having me on the Blog.
    Vanda

    Reply
  12. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Zoe
    Nice to meet you and thank you for your congrats. I will be sure to check name tags at the conference and say hello to you. I’m looking forward to reading the other Little Gems stories too.
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  13. Hi Vanda

    It’s lovely to learn more about other writers. Congratulations on your story in the Little Gems. I am eager to read this years edition.

    Being from New Guinea I guess you know the taste of salty plums then, I adore them, but haven’t been able to get them for a couple of years.

    You mentioned Astro Boy, what about Torchy the Battery Boy. lol.. they were both cute cartoons. Oh, and I love the idea of pyjamas all day. I wish.

    All the best,
    Suzanne 🙂

    Reply
  14. Cath Evans

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Vanda,
    Nice to “meet” you on here and learn a bit about you. I have to admit to being a marine boy fan too! I enjoyed your story in last year’s LG, so I’m looking forward to this one.

    Hope you’re enjoying your first blog moment.

    Cath

    Reply
  15. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Suzanne
    Thank you for your congratulations.
    Salty plums! Yes! Love them and can still buy them at a local chinese food shop here on the Gold Coast. Salty plums were our substitute for lollies and sweets but they are certainly an acquired taste. My husband and children think I’m mad for actually enjoying them.
    I admit that I’m not familiar with Torchy the Battery Boy. I must google that one.
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  16. Vanda

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hello Cath !
    Thank you for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed my first LG story and hope you will like A PASSIONATE LOVE.
    And yes…am enjoying the blog. I am new to this, even though I do read other people’s blogs. Jenn has been a fantastic blog coach.
    It’s not so scary after all and I appreciate you and everyone taking the time to comment.
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  17. Lisa Barry

     /  April 22, 2011

    Hi Vanda
    Great to see this little blog bite. I so enjoyed reading it.
    Now, we have two extra choices for songs to sing on the way to the next meeting…”Living on a Prayer” and “Who Lives Down in Deepest Darkest Africa.”
    Please bring some more of your Scottish historical to the meeting too.
    Lisa xx

    Reply
  18. Vanda, I googled Torchy, but it’s not that one I’m thinking of. He was similar to Astro Boy with super powers. lol.

    Thought I’d drop by to tell you. tee hee 🙂

    Reply
  19. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Hi Lisa…Another HOG’s Gem!
    Thank you for visiting the blog. Gee..between singing Bon Jovi and Kimba, my day will be made!
    Will try to bring the latest Scottish ms along. Promise!
    Vanda

    Reply
  20. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Hi Suzanne
    Last night I googled Torchy but don’t remember that one. Though as you say, it’s not the one you were thinking off. I’ll do another search. I’m curious now.
    Thanks for your follow up. I’d do one of those smilie icons but not sure how to so you’ll have to settel for this… 🙂
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply
  21. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Suzanne !
    Oh my goodness..the smilie worked! Yes…as mentioned earlier, I’m a novice at blogging (and it should read ‘settle’ not ‘settel’…oops)
    Vanda

    Reply
  22. A colon, above the semi colon, then right hand enclosure bracket, the curved one above the zero on your keypad. 🙂

    I didn’t see your smilie but I know you are smiling. lol. 🙂

    Reply
  23. My apologies. My computer refused to show it at first. 🙂
    Have a nice day.

    Reply
  24. Congratulations on the gem award, I loved the cover when I saw it. Just letting you know we are watching the Astro Boy movie now with my three kids. I was very excitted when it came out, he looks the same as he did when I grew up. Yay. Me, not so much.

    Congratz again, an tips for the little gem contest??

    Reply
  25. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Hi Suzanne
    Thanks for the tip re the smilie. Much appreciated. And yes…had a nice day out and about with the family.
    Happy Easter
    Vanda

    Reply
  26. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Hi Melissa
    Thank you for visiting the blog, and for your congratulations.
    I haven’t seen the new Astro Boy movie (it’s on my ‘to do’ list) but how wonderful that all these years later, the next generation is enjoying his character.
    As for tips re the Little Gems contest? I’d grab a copy, read the stories and try to determine key factors within each story as to why it works. Re ideas for a story…I’ve found that drawing from personal experience and emotions helps. Easier said than done, I know. The very first comp I entered, I didn’t make it through the first round. I was so green to the craft of writing. Yet practise and perseverance has paid off.
    All the best
    Vanda

    Reply
  27. Yah!!!! Thank you Vanda, I’m looking forward to using it to jot down my so many ideas, or perhaps use at the conference.

    Thank you once again. I’ll be on the look out for those salty plums next week. 🙂

    Suzanne 🙂

    Reply
  28. Vanda Vadas

     /  April 23, 2011

    Hi Suzanne
    You’re very welcome. Enjoy!
    And good luck with the salty plum search 🙂
    Cheers
    Vanda

    Reply

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