Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I've finished my book. It's done. After 7 long months and 4 full drafts, The Boyfriend Plague is finished.

Well, as finished as it can be at this moment. I'm sure there will be tweaks and changes to be made after my betas and CPs have been through.... But the feedback I've had so far (2 people have read it) has been good, and I'm feeling vaguely positive about it.

But I haven't read it all the way through yet. I'm leaving it for a week or so before I do because I need to distance myself from the experience of writing it. Especially the last two chapters which I wrote and rewrote 3 times in the space of a week. I'm still not 100% sure I like the ending, but I'm waiting for other people to give me advice before I tackle it again.

For now, I'm going to just bask in the feeling of finishing. And do some reading for other people. And ponder the two competing ideas I have for my next book.

What do you do when you've finished a project?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dialogue bloghop

My friend Juliana is having a really fun bloghop this week. It's all about dialogue and keeping it concise. So concise in fact, each line of dialogue can only be as long as a Tweet - 140 characters.

So here's my attempt...


@youngerkate How’d you feel about being a daddy?

@maybehubby A what?’

@youngerkate A dad. You know, a father.

@maybehubby Are you trying to tell me something?

@youngerkate Yep. Ten weeks.

@maybehubby You’ve known for ten weeks?

@youngerkate No. I’m ten weeks pregnant.

@maybehubby How long have you known?

@youngerkate Only since last week.

@maybehubby You’ve known that long? Why didn’t you…

@youngerkate You were on tour.

@maybehubby Oh my god! We’re having a baby.

@youngerkate Looks that way…

@maybehubby But I don’t want to have a baby.

@youngerkate I’m not exactly ready either!

@maybehubby Only ten weeks, right? You could still….

@youngerkate If I wanted to. But I don’t.

@maybehubby Why not?

@youngerkate I’m thirty-one, dude. I’m not unhappy about it.

@maybehubby What if I’m unhappy?

@youngerkate I was pretty freaked out to begin with too!

@maybehubby You’re on the pill. How’d it happen?

@youngerkate The usual way. The pill’s not infallible.

@maybehubby You didn’t do it on purpose did you?

@youngerkate What?

@maybehubby Stop taking the birth control?

@youngerkate No! Of course not!

@maybehubby I’m not mad. Just….scared.

@youngerkate I know. But we’ve talked about it.

@maybehubby Talking about kids is different to having them.

@youngerkate You said you’d have kids with me.

@maybehubby I didn’t think you’d get pregnant…

@youngerkate So quickly, right?

@maybehubby You’ve only been back, what?

@youngerkate Ten weeks.

@maybehubby You mean…

@youngerkate That night.

@maybehubby The Jaeger?

@youngerkate That’s when it happened.

@maybehubby Jesus!

What do you think? And don't forget to pop over and see some of the other entries. It's going to be great!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blogfest alert!

My good friend and critique partner Loralie Hall is hosting a fantastic blogfest in February. It's to help you find critique partners and beta readers and we can never have enough of them, can we?

So here's the skinny....

  • On Feb 10, post your information on your blog (I'll tell you what information below)
  • Between Feb 10-13, go visit all the other people's blogs, and read what they've got to offer.
  • If you're interested in reading and/or helping them out, let them know by replying to their post
  • If you love the idea, but just don't feel like you're the right person to provide feedback or don't have the time, let them know you loved their idea and why.
  • Don't feel compelled to offer to read for someone just because they offered to read for you. I mean certainly, talk and hit it off and see how it goes, but I'm just saying...

What your post needs to contain?
  • Genre, Age Group (YA or Adult), & Title of your story
  • Your current story status. Are you working on a first draft? Trying to wrap up a final draft for submission? Somewhere in between?
  • What kind of feedback are you looking for? A full-blown line-edit and critique? Overall thoughts? Input as you move through each chapter? Something else? How detailed or high-level do you want to go?
  • A pitch, blurb, or query about your book so we know what it's about. I'll leave it up to you to decide how you'd like to sell it, but try and keep it under 300 words.
  • The first 500 words of your story. This isn't an agent-judged contest or anything like that, it's a search for feedback, so give us what you've got.
So there you have it! If you're looking for people to read your work and give you feedback (and I know I am. I'm 98% sure I finished my latest draft of Boyfriend last night), then this is the blogfest for you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some random thoughts about Melancholia

We've been showing a film at the cinema called Melancholia. It's by Danish director Lars von Trier who is perhaps one of the most polarizing directors out there. On a purely personal level I can say I have loved or even adored several of his films, while loathing others. And I loved Melancholia. It's beautiful, deep, sad, complex and above all, heartbreakingly human. Yet in almost every session people walk out.

For some, it's the hand-held camera. It makes some people feel queasy and I get that. Other people come out saying they're bored. The film is too slow. I've had a few people tell me it's the worst film they ever saw. One lady was quite indignant about it, demanding to know why we'd programme such a bad film. I never know what to say to someone asking that. "Um.... I really liked it. So did the Cannes Film Festival jury. And the Association of Film Critics."????

But anyway, what I really wanted to talk about in relation to this film, is the ending, and how without any dialogue or even any movement, the actors show exactly who they are.

If you know anything about the film, you'll know a rogue star called Melancholia is hurtling toward Earth. In the final scene two sisters and the son of one of them, wait to see if the star will hit. One sister is chronically depressed and she looks almost happy. She sits with her eyes closed, a small smile on her face, waiting for the oblivion to come. The child holds her hand, his own eyes closed, trusting that the grownups know what's going on and will protect him. His mother, who knows there is nothing she can do to protect him if the star does hit, is anguished. She doesn't close her eyes. She watches. She cries. She clings to her family and contorts her body as she tries to find the best way to keep her son safe.

It's excellent characterization and ties together all the elements of the characters that have been revealed in the previous 2 hours. And it's so simple. I wish I could write like that....

Have you seen Melancholia? What did you think? Are you a lover or a hater? Why?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That time again...

Yes, it's late January so it's time to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. It's a chance to win a publishing contract with Penguin and a $15 000 advance. Who doesn't want that?

I wasn't going to enter this year. I'd hoped to have The Boyfriend Plague ready in time, but even after working like a madwoman the last two nights, I still haven't written an ending I'm happy with (yeah, I'm that close). So I decided to enter Taillights, almost on a whim.

It's always a gamble. The first round is judged on a pitch, and of 10 000 entries, 8 000 will get cut right there. I've made it through the pitch round twice now, so I hope I can make it through again this year. The second round is judged on 5000 words of the MS, and I'm pretty sure if I can make it to this stage, I have a better chance of moving on.

But at the end of the day, there's no point in thinking too much about it. It's a contest and out of all those entries, there can be only one winner, so the chances of being that one are pretty slim. The most entertaining part of the process is reading the forums when people are knocked out. There can be some hilarious vitriol spouted....

Have you entered? Why not? Entries don't close until February 5th (or each category fills up). What are you waiting for?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And... I'm back!

It's nice to be home. The beach was lovely and it was wonderful to be away for a while, but somehow it's always nice to get back home.

We had near perfect weather this year, just a little wind a couple of afternoons, but not enough to keep us from swimming every day. We took the water taxi into the park one day and walked back out, a 12.4km walk which my seven-year-old did without complaint (well, not much). It was really nice to be able to walk a section of the park I haven't done often. Next year I think we'll try taking the water taxi both ways and doing a section way up the park. My little one will be 5 by then, so we may even get him to do it too. Although I doubt it...

Another highlight of the trip was the A & P Show, a county fair type thing that was being held in a small town about an hour away from our house. We admired the prize winning vegetables, tea trays, cakes and jams. We watched the livestock being judged. We cheered on the ax-men in the wood chopping contest. We watched the show-jumping and dressage competitions. The kids rode on a shonky carnival plane ride. It was great!

But the best part of any holiday is just being there. It's a gorgeous place, and just sitting on the deck, overlooking the estuary and watching the sun set is enough.

When I get the photos out of the camera, I'll share a few...

Did you have a good week?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm going to be away for a week with little to no internet. So I won't be blogging again until I get back. But then I promise I'll tell you all about my holiday.

We're going to the beach house we go to every summer, so cross your fingers for good weather. It's no fun getting trapped in two rooms with two kids. I so need this vacation. I feel like I've been working non-stop for months now and a chance to get away from everything is just what I need.

See you after the 22nd.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


My son has been away for just over a week now. He's at the beach with his grandparents and we're going to join him there on Saturday. That's 3 more days away. I've never been away from my son for this long before, and I miss him. The house is oddly quiet without him. But if I'm missing him, you should see his little brother!

My kids are pretty close. There's 3 years between them, but most of the time they get on really well. They play together a lot, and big E lets little O tag along when he's playing with his friends too. I keep wondering how long it will last. I never played well with my sister, especially if either of us had friends over.

Being home all week without his brother has meant O has had to find ways to play alone. And he hasn't done too badly. I think the unlimited access to E's forbidden toys has had a lot to do with it, but I also think it's given him a chance to exercise his own imagination. E always directs the games and invents the plots, so without him, O has been forced to make up his own.

I hope it encourages him to put forward his own ideas when he and E are back together again. But I doubt it...

Do you have kids? Do they play nicely together or not?

Monday, January 9, 2012


I know, I know... We're 10 days into the new year. I should not be this tired. But I am. Totally and utterly exhausted. But I'm going on vacation on Saturday... if I make it that far.

While going away is awesome, and I'm looking forward to it, the week before going away is rather less fun. I have SO much work to do. Plus something exciting in my writing life happened, and I've had to drop everything to attend to that (sorry to be so vague... I will share details when I can).

I'm spending a lot of time wide awake at 3am, freaking out about getting everything done. Then of course I'm a wreck all day because I haven't had enough sleep and wind up not getting half of what I need to get done, done. Yesterday I decided lying awake thinking about stuff was not productive, and got up to actually do stuff. Which was good, but didn't do much to alleviate my tiredness.

So... I wanted to finish the new draft of Boyfriend before I went away. Not going to happen, I'm afraid. I'm three or four chapters away from the end, but this week is just going to allow me the time to do it. It's a little disappointing, especially since I didn't meet my Christmas Eve deadline either, but I'm learning to roll with the punches and not beat myself up TOO much when things don't go as planned.

How are you coping so far this year?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Everything changes

I was thinking about the film post I last wrote, and went back to look at previous top 10 lists I've done. As a film reviewer, I do one every year, and have done for many years. What really struck me, was how different films have become, even in just 10 years.

Magnolia was one of my top 10 films the year it came out. This film would never be made today. Why? It's too slow paced. An hour into its running time, you're still being introduced to the characters and the main action hasn't happened yet, or even really hinted at. Even the scenes and shots are slower. These days scenes are kept very short, and the camera moves around within it, or the editor cuts between characters frequently to keep things moving and dynamic.

It's like film makers are afraid of stillness, of taking their time to let things unfold. Is this a reaction to the perception that people have shorter attentions spans these days, or has this frenetic film making style been part of the cause?

It's the same in books. When you read the classics, there are often large passages of description, or even whole chapters outlining the politics and historical background of the time (Les Miserables, War and Peace). This wouldn't fly in a modern book. The history and description needs to be squeezed in amidst the action driving the story forward so the reader won't get bored.

I wonder if all of this is just making people more impatient. How long will it be before attention spans have dropped to a fraction of a second, and we don't even get a page to grab their interest? A single scene?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top 10 List

It's been a long time since I talked film here on a blog called Fiction and FILM. So with everyone wrapping up 2011 with their top 10 lists of anything under the sun, I thought I should share my top 10 films of 2011.

It was a hard one. I didn't love a lot of movies in 2011. And I watched a LOT (but I always do - it's my job). So I don't think I have 10 that I feel deserve to be there. If I only make it to 7 or 8, don't hold it against me.

And, in no particular order.....

Love Story - this was a charming, quirky and personal film and I loved it. I came out grinning and every time I think about it, even now, six months or so later, I still crack a smile.

Black Swan - intense, creepy and unexpected. This film twisted the idea of reality and unreality to great effect, giving an eerie insight into the character's fracturing mind.

Blue Valentine - I don't know how anyone can fail to love Ryan Gosling. Even here, as an emotionally retarded guy whose wife has grown up without him, you have to feel for the guy. This film was small, intimate and so heartbreakingly real.

Pina - Now I see a point to 3-D. This is a dance film that is unlike any other dance film. Wim Wenders places you onstage with the dancers, and in 3-D. Awesome.

The Fighter - I'm not usually a fan of boxing movies, but wow! And Christian Bale is incredible.

Red State - If Kevin Smith really has given up film making, it's a tragedy. This is an incredibly smart film that turns the genre on its head and makes some extraordinarily bold choices (that long sermon scene? Genius)

Project Nim - Now, I didn't like this film. I started crying in the first 5 minutes and didn't stop for the full 95 minute running time. But any movie that elicits this extreme a reaction from someone as hardened and cynical as me, has to have done something right.

And seriously, that's all I have. I've seen some other outstanding films, but they're not releasing until next year, so I'll have to save them for my 2012 list.

What were some of the good films you saw in 2011?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Post-holiday kickstart

The holidays have been fun. Time off work, lots of good food and wine, family, relaxation and all that. But now 2012 has been rung in, it's time to sweep up the confetti, toss those empties into the recycling and move on. It's time to get back to work.

In reality, I haven't had much of a holiday. People like to go to the movies when they're off work, so I've actually been quite busy. And because of that, I've had about 5 or 6 days away from my WIP. Tonight I decided it was time to get back into it. I'm going away on the 14th, and I really want to be finished with this draft by the time I go. Then I can relax and enjoy my vacation without thinking about the plot twist in chapter 13 and how it might change things in chapter 27...

I think I can do it. I'm about half-way through chapter 28 now, and will hopefully be able to finish that one tomorrow. My old draft is 32 chapters long, but I think this one is going to be a little longer - maybe 34 or 35. But there are a couple of chapters in there that aren't going to need a massive amount of rewriting - not like Chapter 28 which is all new material.

So I think I can get done by the 14th. I hope I can get done by the 14th. Then when I get back from my week at the beach, I can start working on one of the two new projects I have in mind. They're so pretty, so shiny.... I know I'll still need to tweak Boyfriend a little more, but it will be nice to work on something new. I've been working on The Boyfriend Plague since June, pretty much non-stop.

What are your post-holiday goals? Do you have something that's kicking you into gear to get going?