Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Best Laid Plans and all...

All my plans went awry this morning when I arrived at the cinema to find my office dripping water. My desk was awash and all the paperwork I had stacked neatly on it, ready for the staff over the next 10 days, was saturated. Water dripped from the ceiling, and closer investigation revealed a projection room overflowing.

Yes, there was hair tearing. The language was not what you could call ladylike. The definite sound of wailing could be heard emanating from the building.

Back to square one...


One day left before I go away for 10 days holiday. The next time I post here, it will be from the thriving metropolis of Canberra. I assume you can hear the sarcasm in my voice as I say that. Canberra is NOT an exciting holiday destination. It is though, where my parents live at the moment, and I'm taking the boys to see their grandparents.

Preparing to go has been hectic. Not only have I had to do two weeks work in one at the cinema, but it's the end of the month which requires masses of extra paperwork on top of all the regular end of week stuff. So I've had to be organized. Very organized. But for once, I actually feel on top of it. Ask me again as I'm trying to get out the door at 5pm tomorrow and I probably won't be so calm!

On top of all that extra 'real' work, I've had the most intense two weeks of reviewing for my critique groups. In my YA Novel group, we had a review frenzy where we had to review as much of another writer's book in a week as we could. I'm proud to say I managed to finish my chosen book.

We have also had a two week review marathon for our novella project, I just finished reviewing my 4th novella. Okay, only one of them was completed, but it's still a lot of reviews. I'm pooped now. And apart from doing a quick once over of Prayer and Prey before sending it off to the Secret Agent, I've done no writing of my own for two weeks. It's the longest I think I've gone without writing for a couple of years, and I'm itching to get back to it.

I've had masses of amazing feedback on both my novella and Assignment 9, so will be arming myself with notes while I'm in Australia, and hope to return with a rewrite of the novella. A9 will have to wait a little because even with the feedback, I'm not sure what I want to do with it.

And David, my illustrator, is waiting for his picture book too. Do you think a policeman punishing fairy-tale characters for their wrong-doings might be too much for a kids' book? In my mind I see it as being really blackly funny, but can't be sure that children will get that kind of dark humor. I guess I have two of my own to try it out on, don't I? The pictures are incredible, although again, I'm worried they might be a little disturbing. Can we put Hansel and Gretel into the stocks? What do you think?

Monday, September 27, 2010


I've had two pieces of very exciting news in the last 24 hours. Firstly, my short story Lost has been chosen as story of the month by Long Story Short. I had to write a bio and do an interview, so can only imagine it's going to be a big feature thingamy when the issue goes live. So that's good exposure.

Then this morning, I discovered I'd gotten an Honourable Mention in the Secret Agent contest run by Miss Snark's First Victim. This is really exciting because the prize is to submit the full MS. My first full request! Which isn't too surprising since so far I've only sent 4 queries out for Prayer and Prey, and haven't heard back from two of them yet.

So if you see me floating around, a big, silly grin on my face, that's why!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just plain weird

I just started reading a new YA book yesterday. Nothing weird there. But this book is written in third person present tense. I have never come across a novel written in third person present tense before. Children's picture books, yes, but a novel? It's weird. Jarring and strange and incredibly intrusive to the reading experience.

I use a lot of first person present tense in my writing. It has an immediacy that you don't get with past tense writing, an action to it that surges from the page (when it's done right). I'm not getting that with this third person voice. I feel distanced from the protagonist, which, given the subject matter in this particular book, may not be such a bad thing. But mostly, it feels wrong. I keep wanting to change sentences so they are in the past tense, or make the character's name 'I'.

I'm going to keep reading because while it feels completely weird to read, I'm curious to see if it can be pulled off. I'm also curious to see if I could sustain that kind of voice for the length of a story - not willing to try a novel yet - and if it would work. What kind of story could possibly require a third person present tense narrative? Other than a picture book? Has anyone got any ideas? Any suggestions of other novels written in this way?

I'm not sure I like it, but I'm always eager to spread my wings and try something new.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let's play Tag!

There is a game of internet or blog tag going on at the moment. I got tagged by Nicole Zoltack, so need to answer these questions..

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?
Invisibility. Just think what you could do and hear if no one could see you. On second thoughts, maybe I don't want to hear that stuff...

2. Who is your style icon?
I don't really have one. I have what you might call, a unique style of my own...

3. What is your favorite quote?
Always remember to party like a rockstar.

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Someone saying my book made her cry. I knew my work was done....

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?
An exotic mixture of Kristin Hersh, Nick Cave, Einsutzende Neubauten, Swans and Jill Sobule. With a few soundtracks thrown in for good measure.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Am I even a person? No, seriously, I think I'm more a night person, but with two small kids, mornings are a necessity. I just don't sleep much at all.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Cats. Definitely cats. Dogs are too needy.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
The two things I love: fiction and film. Although I notice, I blog more about writing than film...

I tag you! The first four people to read this. Leave a link to your blog in the comments and I'll come and see your answers...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There are so many awesome contests out there in peoples' blogs. In the last two weeks I've been lucky enough to win prizes in two of them. I won a 25 MS critique from three writers in one, and a query critique in the other. Both awesome and very helpful prizes.

And here is another contest with awesome prizes

So go and enter. Even if you're one of those people who says they never win anything. Today might be your lucky day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Less stressed

Okay. I'm feeling a little less stressed than I was when I last posted. I've managed to finish editing A9 and get it posted in time for the review frenzy. It's not 100% right yet. Chapter 28 is way too long, and there are a couple earlier that are too short, but I will reshuffle that later, once the reviews have come in. I've also managed to get through half a novella in the reviewing marathon, so am feeling on top of things there too. I just need to make a start on the novel reviewing today.

Unfortunately I haven't managed to recover the mailing list yet.... I have someone coming in today to start re-entering the data, but it's going to be a long process.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bad timing

I made kind of a fatal mistake. This week is the reviewing marathon for our novella project. That I knew. But unfortunately, it turns out, it's also the week of the review frenzy in my YA novel group. I thought that was another week away. Assignment 9 is still somewhat fragmented, and I need to write another chapter or two to make it fit together. I also am only 101 pages into the 222 pages with editing. So, it's a race against the clock. Can I finish editing and writing before tomorrow night? Perhaps, but doubtful. But I'll give it a shot.

Then during the week I have to read and review a whole novel plus try to get through at least two of the novellas. Not sure how I'm going to do it. I think the next two weeks are going to be devoted entirely to reviewing and I'll do no writing at all. I also have a very busy couple of weeks at work because I'm going away on the 1st October for 10 days and will need to have everything set up for the team while I'm away.

So I'm feeling a little under pressure right now.

And then, to make things even more stressful, last night I went to send a mail-out to my mailing list at work, and discovered the almost 3000 member list had become 23. And I can't seem to recover them. I've spent more than 5 years building that list, and it's probably the most valuable marketing tool I have. Gone. I have no idea why or how, but it's definitely disappeared. I do still have a box of forms that people have filled out to join the list, but I don't have the time to re-enter every single one of them by hand. AHHHGGGG!

Well, I'm off to try and formulate a plan for getting all this stuff done in a timely fashion. If you don't see me around here for a few days, well, now you know why....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Day In The Life

A lot of people have been telling me recently that I'm Wonder Woman, and asking how the hell I have time to do everything I do. I don't feel like Wonder Woman at all, and think I manage to do a lot because I try not to waste a single minute of every day. So, just to show you what I mean, I thought I'd share with you a typical day...

I wake up at 5am. My partner starts work at 6, so he gets up then. I don't. I lie in bed in a semi-conscious state until he leaves just before 6. Then I get up and drag my laptop back to bed with me so I can check e-mail, catch up on Twitter, blog or write a little before I have to get the kids up at 7.

Between 7 and 8.30 it's chaos as I get the kids breakfast, make school lunch, get them dressed, do reading homework with Number 1 and usually read a little of whatever chapter book we're on to them. Oh, I also try to have breakfast myself somewhere in there, and at least one cup of coffee. Then we're out the door. I drop Number 1 at the bus-stop so he can walk the rest of the way to school while Number 2 and I take the bus into town.

On the bus, I tend to think about whatever writing I'm working on. It's a good 20 minute ride, and my son just likes looking out the window. Some of my biggest breakthroughs have come to me on the bus. When we get off the bus, I have to think of games to play while we walk the short distance from the bus stop to the daycare.

After dropping Number 2 at daycare, I walk down to work. I check the previous night's figures and send reports to the distributors before filling out my own spreadsheets. Then I spend about ten minutes writing myself a to-do list for the day, Throughout the day, I reward myself for finishing tasks by giving myself five minutes to check on Twitter or to check my personal e-mail or to see what's going on in my writing community.

Some days I have to work on the bar for several hours, and there is considerable downtime between sessions. Once I've done everything that needs to be done, I might get online and do some reviewing for my writing group while I wait for the next surge of customers. Other times I scribble down notes for what I want to work on later, or edit print-outs of short stories or chapters. But of course, that's all time dependent.

After work, it's another period of chaos while we get the kids home, dinner made, baths, teeth and bedtime. Some nights I do dinner then go to the gym and let Dad take care of the rest, but mostly, it's me. After the kids are in bed, I usually spend an hour or so with my partner, watching TV or talking, basically just relaxing. Then he goes to bed and I write. And I write. Sometimes I get so caught up, I don't realize how late it is and have to force myself to go to bed. 5am comes around very quickly.

So, as you see, not Wonder Woman. Just organized, I guess. How do you fit everything in?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rewriting (again)

I finished rewriting the NOW section of A9 last night. I'm still not sure it's strong enough, or different enough to work. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I had a brilliant idea of what the dynamic between my two young lovers needs to be. To begin with, she's hesitant, frightened to get too close to him while he's almost too eager for the relationship to get serious quickly. Then, midway through the book, he makes a confession to her, opens up about the secret he's been keeping, and she melts, all her hesitation and fear about the relationship gone. There is a period of bliss where they both seem to want the same thing, and think they have a future together. Then, after they go and visit his family, he begins to get cold feet and starts almost subconsciously pulling away from her.

It's good written out like that, but showing that in fairly short, precise scenes is going to be harder. As I piece the new NOW bits together with the A9 sections, I will try to achieve this dynamic. I'm just not sure I can... Especially with a deadline looming over me in the form of the review frenzy. Help!

And once again, if you haven't entered Cassandra's contest, you have only 6 more days to do it! Then again, I'm going to seriously need her help again soon, so don't enter so I can win!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trunk novels

Does every writer have one? The book they love to death themselves, but know isn't working in some way or another? That first book you threw yourself into as a young, clueless writer with no idea what you were letting yourself in for? I have two of these beasts mouldering away in the back of my hard-drive. One, the first complete novel I ever wrote, makes my teeth clench when I read over it now, my stomach turn over. I was so BAD! Yet, the idea behind it is still intriguing. And I do still like my character's voice. I keep toying with the idea of reworking it, but it just feels like too much work.

The other is Holding It Together, a book I've been working on since I was 13 years old. That's a long time. A REALLY long time. It has been through so many transformations and changes over the years that it is barely recognizable as being the same book I managed to churn out two thirds of while at high school. It's spent long periods of time in bottom drawers or being dragged from flat to flat in water-damaged school exercise books. I even found a folder of pages I must have written while working as a chef, all on the back of napkins.

So I've been working on this book for a LONG time. And it's still not done. I'm beginning to think it never will be. I think it may be that book I go back to time and time again, tweaking a bit here and there, toying with motivations, voices, perspectives, and other bits and pieces. But I doubt I'll ever be truly happy with it. I wrote it initially as third person omniscient, and that is still the way I feel it works best, even now that I have it as two alternating first person perspectives. My critique groups disagreed, but I can't help wondering if that was a knee-jerk reaction, everyone seeming so down on third person omniscient. Honestly, I can't see why anyone would choose to write in third person unless it was to be omniscient. Otherwise, first person is so much more intimate.

I bet a lot of people are going to disagree with me here. Go ahead.

And don't forget Cassandra's contest! Only 9 days left to enter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I'm so tired right now I can barely think. It's four thirty in the afternoon, I'd be wrapping up my day and getting ready to go and pick the kids up at five. Today I have another 6 or 7 hours at work to look forward to. And I worked 14 hours yesterday too. To be honest, I'm not sure how I'm going to make it, especially since we have a festival opening night function and it's going to be very busy. All I want to do is fall into bed and sleep for about twelve hours straight.

So, with all this work happening, is it any wonder I have not even looked at my novel this week, let alone done any revision? I'm hoping to get a couple of hours tomorrow to work on it, in between baking and decorating cakes for the six year old's birthday party. I'm not holding out a lot of hope though. Right now, I'm going to try not to fall asleep on my keyboard..

hfwrweirhjaeO:hjftaU:jgaGJGJ:" ◊ *snore.....*

And in case you haven't already entered, don't forget to enter Cassandra's contest. She's getting a ton of entries apparently, which should not be a surprise given the awesome prize.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I'm feeling scattered this week. I have way too much going on at work, plus my son's 6th birthday party to organize and I don't seem to be able to focus on anything. A bunch of other small problems are also not helping. So writing hasn't been happening at all. Yesterday I wrote nothing. That's got to be the first time in months. So now I'm beating myself up to do extra today. And I'll try. I have 3 free hours this morning, but unfortunately the only place I'll be able to use them is in my office at work. I'm going to try to ignore the telephone etc, but I'm not sure how successful I'll be.

I sent out my first tentative queries on Prayer and Prey on Monday night. Only four to start with because I'm testing the water. We'll see how it goes...

And don't forget to check out Cassandra Marshall's contest...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shameless plug for a friend

The lovely Cassandra Marshall is running a contest over on her blog. First prize is a full substantial edit of your MS. I've used Cassandra's services and can vouch for her editing prowess. In fact, the rewrite of A9 I'm currently completing, is in response to her editorial suggestions.

So get over there and enter. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


After agonizing over it for weeks, I have finally finished at least a first draft of my novella. It is a huge relief, and one more thing to tick off my to do list.

As a reward to myself, I'm going to do little tweaks to P & P tonight, then crack into the major rewrite of A9 tomorrow. My aim is to have that done by the end of next week.

I will continue to report on progress.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


There was a huge earthquake in a city south of where I live yesterday morning. Buildings collapsed and the city is without power or running water. They declared a state of emergency. Watching and listening to coverage of the quake has been both fascinating and horrifying. Just a few miles away, we're safe and sound, going about our business as if nothing happened.

Yet, funds have been set up already where you can donate to the victims, and money is flowing in.

Millions of people in Pakistan have had their lives devastated, their homes destroyed and their communities fractured by the floods, and people have not been donating to charities to help them.

I think this is wrong. The majority of people in quake stricken Christchurch will have insurance, and those who don't will no doubt get some kind of government hand out to help them out. The people in Pakistan have nothing, and their government can't offer them anything. So why is no one donating money to them?

This kind of thing angers me. I'm not saying that the people of Christchurch don't deserve sympathy or support - they do - but the people of Pakistan need it too. And just because they are Muslim, or have brown skin, or whatever other reason people are choosing for not donating money, doesn't mean they need our support less. If anything, they need it more.

Just my thoughts of course...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Idea take over

I'm working to two very tight deadlines right now. One of my critique groups is having a novel review frenzy in a few weeks and I am determined to have nailed the rewrite of A9 in time to be included. Plus, our novella project is having its first round of reviews in just over a week, so I need to make progress on that.

So what happened?

I had a brilliant idea for a new novel. It's actually kind of a slant on an idea I've had for a while, but is much better and more fully formed than the vague idea I had before. In fact, whole chunks of the book have appeared in my head, fully formed and ready to be spewed out on paper before I forget them.

Why does this always happen when I'm in the middle of something else? I want to do NaNoWriMo in November, and I think this is the book I'll write, but it's coming to me too fast, too soon. I need to get this other stuff out of the way first. So I guess I'll just scribble down notes as things come to me and hope like hell I can read my writing later. And hope that by November, when I'm ready to sit down and write, I still feel as excited about Tony and Lucy and their unique problems and choices.

For now, I'm back into Angels. I've written 3K in the last 2 days, and think I'm steaming in on the end. I can't help feeling that some of the scenes I've written are too long and not action packed enough, but I guess they can be cut in revision if need be...