Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cleaning - Why Bother?

My house is a disaster zone right now. Stuff dripping from every surface and threatening to topple, so i thought I better clean up a bit cos there's nothing on this weekend, and if i leave it as it is, they might have to use GPS to find me after I collapse under the weight of all my crap.

Anyway, I'd just finished making the lounge room sparkle with cleany goodness and stood back to survey my handiwork when a thought struck me. 'Hmmm," I thought. "Wouldn't it be good, if i could just move my bookcase like an inch to the left?'
GIRL - LEAVE YOUR FREAKING BOOKCASE WHERE IT IS. I mean, what sort of person thinks about shifting a bookshelf at 7am when they should be SLEEPING IN?
Anyway, this is the aftermath of what happens when you try to shift a bookshelf 'just an inch' while the books are still in it.

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Man. I mean that bookshelf had *way* to much in it to start with, but it looks like so much more when it avalanches itself onto the floor. Also take a gander at my circa 1991 tv. You should see my microwave - it has a DIAL and I'm sure is emitting enough radiation to light up all of Melbourne if it chose to use its powers for good.
But of course even this piece of tosspottery has a silver lining. There I was putting them into the neat piles you see before you, when I start slowing right down, saying 'wow, there's that copy of P&P mum picked up from a bookstall in Cornwell in 1983' and 'cool, who knew I had that Pan version of 'Beauvallet?'
Sad sad book girl.
So now I need coffee. I mean, you can't expect me to clean up that kind of mess on no coffee?
Kosina this morning. Because they will give me eggs or pancakes too.
We loves them.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Breakfast Bungle

After last Sunday's horrendous breakfast bungle in which TJ and I spent an HOUR trying to find somewhere open before nine, forgetting half the places we love and ending up siting outside Filter in Fitzroy doing much griping and groaning, I have decided to list all my favourite breakfast places HERE, in a spot where I can't misplace the piece of paper where I scrawled it all down.


Filter - 285 Brunswick St Fitzroy.
Corn cakes...mmmm. Coffee...double mmmmm.
ICI - 359 Napier St Fitzroy.
Organic kickass coffee and the best brioche french toast in town.
Fandango - 97 Errol St North Melbourne.
To die for coffee (even the skinny), and the poached eggs with beetroot & fetta relish is SUPREME.
Apte - 538 Heidelberg Rd Alphington
Yummy, scrumptious menu. Wish i could go past the banana bread with labna for once in my life.
Kosina -2 Napier St Essendon
Pancakes, thick, luscious, often embedded with blueberries - droolworthy.
Mart130 -107a Canterbury Rd Middle Park - Good all rounder.
Circa the Prince - St Kilda - for the mornings we feel more spiffy and presentable (doesn't happen often).
Fruits of Passion -188 Bellair St Kensington.
Recently revamped in very chic modern country style, meaning for a brief few weeks during the reno, I had to find an alternate coffee dealer. Still some of the best coffee I've ever had. Seriously. Orgasmic. My fav off the menu is the eggs benedict defying its name by being served on a hash brown. The muffins fresh out of the oven and still in the tray rock too.

Trotters - 400 Lygon Street, Carlton- if only for those amazing lemon ricotta muffins. The home made hash browns are pretty special too.

Balzari - 130 Lygon St Carlton. Excellent brekky.
The Boathouse - 7 The Boulevard Moonee Ponds
Absolute riverfront on the Maribyrnong, excellent views, beauuutiful food. Coffee pretty ordinary. But a very chill spot.

See, and I know there are so many more!!

Oh, wait on.

The Commoner 122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy.
What a place. Feels like sitting in someone's kitchen eating while they cook. Love their work (and their coffee, and those wicked good pancakes).

Oh, God, that place near Newmarket Station that is in the old Hygienic Library. Their coffee and breakfast is beyond good. The name will come to me. TJ's not so impressed because it's an egg heavy menu and he does love a good serve of french toast/pancakes.

And GAS in South Melbourne, although I hope they're getting over the middle eastern poached egg thing. If i have to eat another egg with dukkhah sprinkled on top, well, I won't be responsible for my actions. But great coffee.

I'm just going to have to keep on adding to this as I remember places, because this is the EXACT problem I ran into last Sunday.

Much love sent to Jeremy (no, i don't know him, but by God I owe him BIG TIME) of the breakfast blog for continually pointing us in goodly breakfast directions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mum - a poltergeist flipped my bike!

I've just spent the last half hour wandering around the house looking for a drink i poured.
I swear there are gremlins in my house. Can't find it anywhere and I'M REALLY THIRSTY AND IT WAS THE LAST drop of that yummy stuff Freya brought over the other day.

And who put the celery in the *pantry* last night, so that when i went to look for it to make my risotto, all hell broke loose.

All of this = me going slowly crazy.
or there are gremlins. One or the other.

I've been doing Dream Incubation (whereby you think on a problem before you go to sleep and your dream self provides the answers). It normally works a treat, and I'm getting more and more into it, so you can imagine my surprise when I asked my dream self 'what is going on with all my clumsiness lately' and the dream answer i get?
Wow. Thanks a bunch dream self. Really insightful.

So in the tradition of what I'm now going to call The Elephant Files in honour of that most auspicious time I fell off an elephant in Thailand - we have today's story, which was actually yesterday's story - but my hands hurt so bad that I could barely type after the incident.

Here goes:
The Elephant Files 2


How I flipped off my bike onto my head.

So here was the thought process. "Hmmm, I have a day off work. I need coffee, I have a mountain of drycleaning, and yet I have an ass the size of Tasmania. What should i do? I know! I'll bike ride down to Cosina for my coffee, dropping off my drycleaning on the way."

So after the usual fifteen minutes of faffing to find my helmet get my gear on, off i went - putting the motherload of drycleaning into my basket on the front.

Okay - you can stop laughing now, yes i really do have a basket. No, it does not have flowers. No, I do not have streamers from my handlebars although yes, if i find some I WILL buy them.

(in an aside, just found my drink. I left it in the laundry) (????)

Now the bike ride was going fairly well. Thighs were working, I actually seemed to have the whole gear change thing going on for once and I was feeling pretty confident. The backroad I was on sloped wonderfully downhill, and I prepared to coast all the way to Buckley Street. Which I'm sure would've worked a treat if it weren't for two things:

1. Speed hump
2. Basket

I hit the speed hump just fine, but the shock combined with the sheer TON of drycleaning was too much for a girly girl basket. It came loose from the top, but still miraculously attached to the bike down at the wheel. So it's creating sparks off the road while I'm screaming something that sounded like 'duck' but was in actuality 'f*ck' in rapid succession.

Finally the bike runs over the metal basket flipping me into the air like a freaking pancake to land firmly on my
a) hands
b) head
c) butt

My drycleaning drags on the ground (which is something I've longed to do to my pin-stripped suit forever). I bounce off the road ending up in a glorious fetal position where I stay like a limp kitten until three, count them, three separate young men pull over saying 'you right, luv?'

Who said chivalry is dead?
That person obviously didn't have a mangled bike basket and cracked helmet to get things moving.

Anyway, long story short, Stefan helped me up, inspected my gravel rash hands, unscrewed the remainder of the basket with a set of keys (!!), put the chain back on and sent me on my shaky way. I called him Macgyver, which he probably didn't realise was the highest compliment I could humanly pay him.

So I sat by the side of the road for twenty minutes wondering if after a bit of an accident, I was the kind of person who would forge on to finish my task (coffee/drycleaning/writing) or would i be the kind of person who ran back to the nest licking her wounds.

Then the little voice inside me, that **might** sometimes sound like Melanie Scott, said 'you have gravel rash, go clean your gravel rash IDIOT'.

insightful soulful moment over.

Worst part? Uphill all the way home with bleeding hands that couldn't grip the handlebars properly.

Poltergeists. Sniff.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hey Murphy - want your law back??

Today, woke up feeling good, the sad grumpy mood from the night before dissipated UNTIL...

I looked in the mirror and LOW AND BEHOLD there was a GIANT DOUBLE DECKER cold sore under my lip. Double decker meaning THREE cold sores that miraculously hatched and then merged under the cover of night into one mammoth glob that threatens to cover a square inch of very obvious facial property.

Where did it come from? Normally, I might get a cold sore about three weeks after a bad virus. Or if I’ve been super run down and stressed. Not just a little stressed, but super stressed. In fact last time I had one was two years ago after that whole Mum and Dad dying within six weeks of each other schemozzle.

My life at the moment, with the coffee, banana bread and lazy weekends, does not warrant a cold sore.

Press Undo! I want my face back!

Fran here at work suggested a boost of zinc and a healthy slather of zovirax. Done!

Cold sore - STILL THERE.

Of course, it would be the day I have a job interview. How hilarious is that. Only a temp role – but one that should take me through the hard-to-find-work Christmas period – so go me.

Luckily they overlooked my massive face impediment and offered me the role. So it’s bye-bye lovely little lawyers library with funky green lights and HELLO dancing girls at the new workplace.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dropping off the radar

Hey look! I'm still alive!

But by god, I have been working my ass off (oh, if only that were true and my ass really WERE smaller, but alas, I'll just have to settle with the working thing).
I have, drum roll please, finally trained this little capooty to get up an hour earlier and go sit in a coffee shop and write write write before work.
and eat banana toasted banana bread (see aforementioned ass)
and drink coffee
oh, and can i please have another coffee, because that one seems to have disappeared.
Decaff? no, no thank you. I like the way the second coffee gives me heart palpitations and makes my hands shake.

and then, write at lunchtime, trying to find somewhere suitable that doesn't sting me $5 for a coffee. At the moment the front runners are:
1. Starbucks. This one has the bonus of sometimes running into Freya who writes at lunchtime too. It has the down side of having to have THREE shots of espresso before it starts to taste like real coffee - but hey, there's always the chai for a sugar hit.
2. The basement library in the place I'm working at the mo. Seriously, how cool is it that this place has a library? Okay, it's a legal library and therefore boring as batshit, but nevertheless, there are desks, and cubicles and little green lights that are totally conducive to forgetting to go back to the office when the allotted half hour is over. I love lawyers. They are smart and funny and have libraries in their buildings where alphasmart typing is not frowned upon.
3. The little park with tables and a nice view of the old law courts i found last week. But this one is totally weather dependent. During that evil northerly that blew my skirt up around my ears last Friday (I kid you not, and yes there were witnesses, and yes they were a group of teenage boys playing downball against the building wall and yes I did run), I couldn't even make it there.

and then, write after work on the train on the way home, not giving a TOSS who's reading over my shoulder (because they always do).

and then come home and watch tv all night (ah, remnants of my old life coming to the fore).

And to wit - there's a third of a book done. And let me tell you, i totally earned that third of a book. And the dishes in my sink will attest to the fact I've done ZERO housework since this whole gangbusters effort. Ha! It feels great. I may never do housework again.

Really the whole thing is just a big warm up for Nanowrimo. The aim of the November writing fest is to reach 50,000, but that's not going to do me much good since I'm aiming for 90,000, so I decided to give myself a head start. I think this might preclude me from actually signing up for Nanowrimo? Not sure. Maybe if I still write 50,000 in November?
In any case, no one can stop me buying the t-shirt which actually looks kind of cute this year. And really, it's getting a bit old that I'm still wearing my 2003 nano t.

Seriously girl, cough up some dosh and buy yourself a new one! Stop being a cheapskate.

Well that was a mess. If you're still with me by this last line you must truly be my friend
Either that or you enjoy watching train wrecks.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stationery Fiend

I've always been a stationery fiend. As a kid, I'd skip the toy department, the barbies and bears (well maybe not the bears), and head straight to the erasers and notebooks.
I fact, late last year I cleaned up my office and put all the empty notebooks on one shelf, and to my not-so surprise, they took up almost half a shelf. I've been on a personal vendetta this year to fill them all up so I can start buying new ones again.

So it shouldn't surprise anyone, and least of all me, when I decided there HAD to be a rubber band that would fit around my manuscripts better than the ugly brown ones I'd been using. I searched high and low people. I went to Kikki K, Officeworks, Penfolds, Borders and finally, successfully, the place I probably should've gone first - SMIGGLE. Mmmmm Smiggle. So many erasers, notebooks, pens, folders in so many colours. And of course, kick ass elastic bands like this one, that fit around my manuscript like a bum in a bucket.

Not sure what it says about me, that finding a frog green elastic band for $1.20 has made my day.

Also making my day and possibly week, is that the lovely vivacious Ziggy is coming for a visit.

This dog is the sweetest thing, although you have to be careful not to open your mouth while you're patting her because odds on you'll get a dog tongue right on in there. And yes, this is the voice of experience over here - I have been french kissed by a dog. Eeeeeeeeeek.

Ziggle is also quite fond of head butting you until you pat her, and less endearingly, launching herself uninvited,onto your solar plexus while you lie on the couch after a big dinner.

It's nice to have a dog in the house again. TJ's been away for a few days and I felt very alone and quiet there for a while.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Birthday Goodness

I think it's probably fair to say that I've been narky lately. Upset, angry, disenchanted and easily ticked off.
Not sure I've ever been this narky. Ever. The other day, the guy sitting across from me on the peak hour train alternatively sucked up snot and kicked my shin. I pushed back gently. I frowned at him, but then he kicked a little too hard and all hell broke loose. I yelled 'Move!' loud enough to get through his iPod and make half the carriage look up from their mobile phones/books/newspapers. He moved.
What I'm not telling you, is that as I yelled 'move', I also kicked him back. Not hard (I'm probably lying here, I had a lot of anger and i think it was pretty hard) but still, I physically assaulted a fellow public transport sufferer.
So not like me.
I am normally the soul of 'excuse me please'. I have manners my mother would be proud of.
Not this week.
I kinda hoped my birthday would yank me out of it, after all, I have an alter ago affectionately known by family and friends as 'the birthday monster'. I love birthdays - everyone coming over, the presents, the cake (perhaps a little too much) singing happy birthday etc etc.
It's not just my birthday, I get almost as excited at other people's. Notice the 'almost'.
So I tried. I really really tried to get into it, even going to the extreme lengths of singing happy birthday to myself along with everyone else.
And having all those people I loved there helped - for a little while.
But much too soon I reverted to cranky, annoyed, crying at the drop of a hat and generally being a pain in the ass. I miss my dog. I'm angry that she's gone and nothing makes it feel better.

I mean you know you're bad news when Zac (see below) comes to visit and spends the entire time watching the wall to escape you.

In good news, even my narky state of mind couldn't detract from the fact that i got some of the cutest presents a girl could wish for. Look at this (thanks Mel, she's beautiful!) :

and this (I haven't taken it off, Freya):

I have the best friends in the world. I hope they forgive me.

So if you see me on the street, seriously, walk the other way. I've got a bee in my bonnet and I'm not adverse to kicking total strangers.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Dog Heaven

In dog heaven there are wide expanses of green green grass where you can run circles in joyous abandon.
There are trees covered in sniffs to paw over
There are plates of fresh cooked chicken and slices of corned beef from Dad.
There is no vet.
There are pillows to lie on, tissues to chew and patches of sun to sleep the afternoon away in.
In dog heaven, nobody asks you to come or sit or tells you you're a bad dog.
Instead, God is pulls you up onto his lap to give you a scratch behind the ear, or on your belly, or wherever you feel like it most.
There's all kinds of chocolate that's not bad for you.
There are no fleas.
In dog heaven, the roads aren't paved with gold, they're paved with those squeaky toys you love so much, like Henry, and Froggy and Monte.
There are lots of other dogs to play with, and you'll feel like a puppy again.
Sometimes it rains, so you can run through the mud but mostly it's like a fresh spring morning.
You'll love it. And one day when I get up there too, you 'll be wagging to see me and show me around.

There better be all these things and more, Mookie. There better be every little thing your heart desires or ...
or what?
or i think my heart will break.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It was the best of times and it was the best of times...

I've just spent five days in Sydney at the Romance Writers of Australia yearly conference and it was an absolute blast. I adore Sydney. Beautiful weather, a city surrounded by either water or park, and Jenny Crusie and Anne Stuart as your personal writing mentors for the weekend . How can you go wrong?

Well there's the $10 they charge you just to stand on the airport train station platform (not including ticket!), and perhaps the way everything seems to cost twice as much as it does here, but other than that, it's a beautiful beautiful town.

Statistics gathered from the conference include

Number of times that I...

Downed a bucked-sized cocktail in the bar: 2

Spilled something on my top: 6

Chewed on complimentary mentos while listening to speakers : 0 (hard to believe, isn't it?)

Bought a book: 7

Told my husband I'd won a book in a raffle: 7

Turned to the person next to me while Jenny Crusie was teaching and said 'that's pure gold' :5

Had writing epiphanies :4

Won a raffle/door prize : 0 (you'd think that would be humanly impossible considering the number of tickets I bought)

Spotted the Sydney Harbour Bridge: 4

Found a fabulous Cafe/Foodstore: 1 (thanks Gusto in Paddington!)

Whined about the fact that my pants don't fit: 25

Ate the donut anyway: 2


One of the highlights of the entire trip was watching amazing writer and fabulous friend, Melanie Scott, win the prestigious and much coveted Emerald Award. I think I was more nervous than she was on the night, but I guess when you've weathered being a double Golden Heart finalist, you can do anything. And what was really hilarious and kind of touching was that she was so surprised to win that she hadn't even prepared a speech, and sat in a total daze for fifteen minutes afterwards. Which was lucky for me, because she didn't notice that I'd totally scoffed her flourless chocolate cake.

And then there's Keri - who hit the extended NYT Bestseller list AGAIN with the wonderful Embraced by Darkness.

There's nothing better than a friend's success. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Two Banana Coladas Later...

... and I was sitting by the pool with my alphasmart (I **so** wish I could say that all the time), letting my latest manuscript suck.

'Letting it suck' is the only rule I have to have when writing first draft because otherwise the nasty little perfectionist goblin will eat up every idea I have. And he really is a nasty goblin. He says things like 'oh come on, i've read a scene like that three billion times before, can we please do something original?' whereas if i smack him down, i write the scene i've read three billion times before, but halfway through something unexpected and original happens and suddenly I'm having fun. This book is looking like it's going to be written using the patchwork quilt method of writing. Bits of scenes coming through strong, but nothing even slightly linear - so it will be a case of putting it all together at the end and seeing what i've got. You can't fight the process. But i still try. Why oh why do i still try?

I only have three days of fluffy cocktail enduced writing to go before I have to come home, though, so I have to make the most of it. Yesterday I fed an elephant bananas (wow, what a smooth topic change) one at a time. She lifted her beautiful long truck and gently curled it over the banana in my hand. Okay, so I ended up with a sizable glob of elephant snot on my hand, but it was worth it. I kept running back and buying more bananas (they say it's a donation for the elephants they are rehabilitating, but I say it's a donation to the restaurant and bar they appear to be building. Hmph.) until there were no bananas left and the elephant was looking at me with disappointment in those big honey coloured eyes. By God can they eat!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Travel Tips for your Romantic Thai Holiday

Tip 1: That red thing is not a capsicum. So when you say to your chef husband 'hey, is that a capsicum?' and he says 'yes', only to add 'I hope' when he sees the steam coming out of your ears, try not to blame him for the gallon of iced water and gastrointestinal distress.

Tip 2: That elephant you are riding does not have a ladder. So when you attempt to dismount, take care not to trip over your own feet and land sprawled on the gravel with your skirt around your ears.

Tip 3: If you bought travel sickness pills, please remember to take them before journeying in the back of a ramshackle red van over hills are around countless hair pin bends. Really. Nobody wants to see you turn a not so delicate shade of green and stumble around like a drunkard.

Tip 4: Try not to take a wrong turn looking for Baskin Robbins and end up in the red light district.

Tip 5: Do not try and ascertain what the 'Chopstick Treatment' listed on the menu handed to you in said red light district, entails.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Satay luck

What are the odds of rocking up to Singapore in the middle of two fabulous festivals? Not only is it 'Singapore's on Sale' (I'm calling that a festival, afterall, shopping is a national past time here) - but it's the also the Singapore **Food** Festival.
Did they know I was coming or something?
And O-M-G can these people cook.
Last night we totally lucked upon some sort of Satay cookoff where they'd turned a street into impromptu satay stalls. The street was lined with charcoal fired BBQs, red lanterns and a haze of satay fuelled smoke hanging in the 97% humidity.
Not to mention every type of satay you can imagine. Well, that's not quite true , there was prawn, lamb, chicken, beef and that's about it. But what more do you need? Put together with the homemade rice cake, cucumber, onion, pineapple - TJ and I were in satay heaven. We left there smelling of charcoal smoke with very full bellies.
I love this city!

We haven't tried the fried carrot cake yet - but it's only day 2.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bunny of the Day

What's a baby rabbit called? I wasn't sure, so if anyone knows, the bunny is all ears to find out.
She fits in your hand and her name is Sooty -not that she's particularly sooty, so not sure how that came about.
But she's the new addition to my sister's household. That is, until Aunty Robyn comes over and steals her away for being too cute for words.
It's her own fault, really. She's got it coming.

So I've finished work at my last place of lucre. It was fun, but oh- my-God the commute was a killer. On the upside, traveling by train everyday is perfect for plotting - if you can zone out the guy in the seat next to you sniffing something up from his knees .
Not always possible.
And on another upside, I think I've done more reading in the past three months than I did in the whole year before it. Some excellent, excellent stuff that I'll post to the left sometime soon.

The book is coming along nicely. On the home stretch of the revision of the revision of the revision. No scene left untouched, no phrase safe from my wickedly sharp delete button.
Ha! I am the revision QUEEN!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Retract previous happy dancing

Ha! Apparently the book that I thought was FINITO is not as finito as previously presumed.
People have read the masterpiece, and found some not-so-masterpiece like qualities like plot holes, loose ends and other various items needing urgent attention.
So the happy dancing and fun process of sending the MS off to the agent of choice is currently in a state of stasis.
As am I.

Oh my. Will somebody please rename this blog 'Procrastinating Up a Storm' because it's been oh, say TWO WEEKS since I got all this lovely feedback and I could only bear to look at the manuscript yesterday morning. And even then it was with the trepidation of someone sitting on an outdoor dunny seat knowing there's a nest of red-back spiders living in the corner.

Not that I've been sitting around with my finger in my ear - I started a new MS in a Don't Look Down draft and who wants to go back to a rewrite when there's a magic new world waiting for you?

But that's okay. I know once I get back into it, it'll only take a week or so and it will be all the stronger for it, and leaving it these couple of weeks means I'm coming back lots fresher and objectively.

So, I've pencilled in some Snoopy Dancing for later in the week, but for this afternoon, I'll just procrastinate a little more writing the new one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Happy Dancing!

I've been a little absent lately - but it's only because I've been using every available second to finishe my current WIP.

And now it's done!

I can’t tell you what a relief it is. I’ve learned so much writing this book. I know I say this with every book, but really – SO MUCH.

Firstly, I started out trying to give my characters some ‘complex conflicts’ rather than a complex plot - a la the Nadia Cornier and Simone Elkeles theory from their workshop at the 2006 RWA conference.

I really love this way of thinking about a book – that if you just set your characters up with complex conflicts they can’t resolve, the plot considerations seem to take care of themselves.

Somehow, of course, in the midst of all those conflicts, I’ve managed to end up with Plotty McPlot anyway, but I’m sure I can balance it out. If I haven’t already.

Secondly – I bought in a few more characters than I’m used to dealing with and that put me on a great learning curve. In my first couple of books, I kept my cast of characters small, because I really couldn’t deal with too much more than that. But this time I’ve got sisters, step brothers, friends, parents of friends all mingling together.
Honestly I’m so immersed in this book that I can no longer see it clearly – so time to put it aside for a few days and play with something else.
Now there’s a sentence that brings a smile to my face – SOMETHING ELSE!

It’s back to that magical time at the start of a novel when anything is possible, everything glitters, and this is going to be the best story I’ve ever written. Sound familiar?

For me it means lots of lazing around, sleeping and napping. Because that’s where I can find that twilight place between awake and asleep where my most creative ideas come from. In fact the idea for THE YEAR MY MAGIC BROKE came on a warm spring day when I kicked back in my car at lunchtime with the sun shining through the windows and half fell asleep. Half fell asleep and dreamed of a girl who discovered her magical powers by a hot guy’s life (and subsequently turning him into a cat).

Mmmm starting a new book. It's better than chocolate.

Friday, April 20, 2007

They're just a pair of socks.

They were just a pair of socks, but they were handmade from the softest angora wool with fine straggly white hairs all over, and they were a pretty purply- grey that you wouldn’t normally associate with a man's sock.

They sat in my sock drawer, third one down, valiantly swimming their way to the surface amid the sports socks and tired old printed socks. They were determined. Determined and three times the size of any other pair of socks in the drawer. They begged to be worn.

But no matter how cold my toes were, or how long I’d looked in vain for my left slipper, I could never bring myself to put them on. Even though part of my crazy mind remembered how I thought I'd love to wear them, how I envisaged wearing them all through the winter, knowing it would make me feel closer to him.

Or something.

Winter went, spring, summer and another autumn and still they never made it out of my drawer. In fact, I could barely look at them, much less pick them up.

That is until tonight when that nasty little voice in my head said that if I didn’t start wearing them soon, I should throw them out. THROW THEM OUT?? Then of course I had to put them on because no way Jose were they getting thrown out.

So I put them on.

And promptly started crying when a hundred and one forgotten pictures of Big Al sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee balanced on the arm rest, and these very same angora socks bunching around his ankles flicked across my mind like a slide show I couldn’t turn off, and I realized these tears are the very reason I left those socks in the drawer for so long. Smart girl.

Because even after a year and a bit these tears are hot and hurtful, sticking in my throat and making me remember. The tears tell me I was stupid to think I was so much better for the past few months. They tell me that I'm kidding myself, that they are just under the surface waiting to jump out whenever a little angora fluffiness comes my way.

Stupid socks. I sit at the computer and look at old photos and new photos and get sadder and sadder, crying quietly so TJ won't hear me from watching the equally sad Richmond football game in the next room.

Then i get up to go and check on the lemon delicious pudding, and whaddaya know the socks make me glide like an ice skater across our polished floor boards, something my dad, with his ice hockey past, would've greatly approved of.

That made me smile and suddenly everything was more than ok.

My brain confuses me.

What is it about grief that only tears can make it better? Whether it's one year or five or twenty, you just have to cry when the tears are there. If I cry, like a good soaking rain, everything appears a little bit brighter and cleaner.

Maybe I'm a lot better than I thought.

Rest in peace Big Al. I miss you like crazy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hey, you've got a stick up your ass!

Okay, Im packing up this little caravan and Im running away with the muppet circus.

This will all make sense when I tell you that last night, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, we went to see Puppet Up - Uncensored with Brian Henson and crew. To make it even funnier, the venue was the Princess Theatre which is about as close as you can get in real life to the plush muppet theatre of the 1970s show.

We walked in to see a plain black stage with a tiny camera trained on the puppeteers and big-ass flat screen TVs on each of the stage.

So you have the choice to watch only the puppets, if you look at the TV, or how the whole thing works if you watch the stage directly.

Then the host, Patrick, asks for some audience input e.g. give me a place and the audience scream out suggestions until something sounds like fun, e.g. star trek convention.

Patrick tells the actors to Puppet Up and the troupe pick up their puppets and swing into action giving us an hilarious Star Trek send up with their own muppet flavour. And because it was an over 18 audience, they could say what they wanted, when they wanted, which took the muppets right out of being kids entertainment into something far more mischievous.

Like when one muppet looks at the other and says Hey, youve got a stick up your ass.

Hilarious, way cute, smart and just a heap of fun. I sat there like a little kid with a wrapt expression on my face for the entire two hour show. This is the first time I’ve been to a show and had serious job envy. How cool would it be to work with that kind of creative energy every day? You could literally feel it in their interactions and the fun they had together. What a cool bunch of people.

Of course it was only as I was lying in bed, four hours after the show finished that I thought of some good suggestions to yell out.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Golden Days

Sending out gallons of cyber champagne to Melanie who rocketed her way into the finals of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart competition with not one manuscript - but two!

This isn't a little three chapter competition either - it's the whole MS. There's no hiding there. If you've got a sagging middle, a black moment that's more a pale puce colour or a few things that just don't quite gel - it's preeety unlikely you'll make it to the finals. After all, they get over 1000 entries every year.

So congratulations you clever thing, and wishing you everything good for your trip to Dallas in July :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Breakfast Fiend Mark I

I am one of Melbourne's biggest breakfast fiends, I'm sure of it.
I've been obsessed by the whole breakfast out thing for about five years now. Every Sunday, sometimes Saturday, and even during the week if someone is crazy enough to give me the day off.

I'm ashamed to say it all started with McDonalds and a particularly tasty Sausage and Egg McMuffin, but it has progressed a LOOOOONG way from there and totally with the help and inspiration of Jamie Wodetzki of The Breakfast Blog .

This guy ROCKS at the whole breakfast thing, and TJ and I have been shamelessly following his lead when it comes to all things of breakfasty goodness.

Without him we would never have found:

Mart 130
The Green Grocer
Replete Providore

All places where I've spent many mornings noodling on my alphasmart while my coffee goes cold.

And we certainly would never have stumbled over Balzari, where this morning I had a pesto and egg dish made that almost made me cry with the way something so simple was made with such panache. I'm sure those herbed tomatoes were picked off a vine in the chef's backyard on his way to work, they were so tasty and fresh.

Coffee = strong and yum
service = friendly and professional
ambiance = mellow

And the mellowness was exactly what I needed after being chief mocktail maker for my lovely niece's 16th birthday party.

SisterL and I came up with our own concoctions of mocktails called The Pink Tutu, the Sunset and the Cococobana that after
  • crushing the ice
  • sugaring the rim
  • chopping the mint
  • blending the raspberries
  • adding the passionfruit
  • whizzing it all together; and
  • placing the sweet plastic monkey on the rim
the kids gulped down in one swallow and held their plastic martini glasses for a refill. Ha! I needed something stronger than fruit juice by midnight, I can tell you.

There were sixty-five fifteen and sixteen year-olds running amok and dancing like there was no tomorrow. They had an absolute ball and my only regret was that adults weren't allowed to join in. I mean, come on, anyone who knows me even slightly knows I'm 100% capable of being in the thick of this:

Which is perhaps the heart of the problem and the reason for the rule. After all, fifteen year olds who spend 4 nights a week in dance class look a lot different dancing while foam is being sprayed all over them to a thirty-five year old with a jumbo sized muffin top and jeans that don't quite do up.

But I would've given it a red hot go.

So I had to content myself with adding to said muffin top by dipping a few marshmallows in this:

Which I can tell you was both extremely messy and totally yummy.

It was a fun night that left me wishing I was sixteen again :)

Which probably explains why I love writing about being sixteen! The universe certainly has a way of making sure you're in the right place, sometimes.

Peace, love and fruity sweet mocktails.


Friday, March 9, 2007

LOVING the revision

I thought I was being sarcastic with the 'loving the revision' title because it's so often a hair pulling, ARRGH kind of process.

In fact, even a week ago, I was feeling jacked off with the process, as my revision page count climbed oh-so-slowly and it was feeling like the same story with a few words changed around.

That's not my idea of a good revision.

But I've gotta say, it's all turned around (which it invariable does) and now I really am *loving the revision* of my current YA. Scenes have moved from the back of the novel to the middle, from the middle to garbage bin and new scenes have wiggled their way in. That's exciting!

It's taking shape, it's finally taking shape. And it's such a freaking relief.

I'm well over half way through, and aiming for being three-quarters by the end of this week. Or maybe even the end of today. LOL, yeah right.

But it's a process.

First, I surround myself with the pictures that make the story come alive for me like the one to your left.

Then I crank up my music compilation for this manuscript which is a mix of stuff by Pink and take it word by word, page by page and scene by scene.

Scenes have moved from the end to the start and from the middle to the end, some scenes are just GONE and new ones have taken their place.

And it's so satisfying. And the more surprises I find about the characters in the pages, the more satisfying I find it.

First draft is both fun and torture. Fun because the words flow and you write as fast as you can and don't look back, and torture because the pages you end up with seldom resemble the shiny goodness of the original idea. But in revision it can become whatever I want it to be and finally I get to try and fix the problems that got me down after I reread my first draft.

Now, if only I could come up with a way to make it a bit faster :)
Oh, that's right - BUM IN CHAIR.

I've heard it works like a charm.

Calling Thailand!

Nothing makes me ignore my bank balance faster than one of those glossy little holiday brochures with page after page using words like 'resort' 'spa' and 'located on a private peninsular'. And if there's any mention of FREE BREAKFAST I've got my cheque book out before you can say 'banana waffles'.

So when TJ and I realised we were coming up on a big anniversary - we thought 'what the heck - let's go!'. I mean really, who needs money anyway, right? Paying the rent is grossly overrated.

We're thinking Thailand, because it's beautiful, close to home, the food is freaking AMAZING and it's where we spent our first honeymoon all those years ago. That time, feeling young and adventurous, we took the train up to the Golden Triangle and did the whole jungle and hot-tail- up-the Mekong River thing. This time, ten years later, it's Southern Thailand and places like this:

AGGGH! That just looks so amazingly beautiful that I can't imagine not spending ten days of my life wondering how the heck that palm tree got all the way over there and if I could possibly rouse myself off my deck chair to swim over and check it out. It's called the Evason Six Senses Resort. What the? I thought I only had five senses! You mean if i come stay at your resort I get an extra one? How cool is that? What would the extra sense be? Psychic ability to know which deck chair will have me in the shade all day? Handy.

Then, of course, the pesky bank balance rears it's ugly head and I realise what we can afford is probably something more like this:

Where the only extra sense you get is the second coming of the dodgy PadThai you had at the hotel restaurant the night before.

Whichever way it goes, there will be swimming, eating, sleeping and a resumption of my love affair with green curry. Here's hoping I can resist having it for breakfast.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hit Me With Your Java Stick

I'm sitting in a cafe called Degraves Espresso with my Alphasmart and a coffee.

Interpretation: everything is very right with the world.

Not that everything even approximated right about an hour ago when I got into my car only to realise I'd left the window wound down all night, so that the rain I'd thought was so romantic tinkering on the roof had now thoroughly wet the seat and my best skirt. It's always fun going to a new job looking like you've had a nasty accident.

But wet skirt or no, Degraves Espresso is a little haven of bright and cosy, with its cherry red theatre seats and cluttered benches. Outside, the light is the cool grey of winter, but stupidly it's so humid (even at 7am) that I'm wishing the quaint theater seats were made of anything but leather.

I could look out of the window of this cafe all day. The short, old street is crowded with black umbrellas and the smell of freshly baked waffles and roasting coffee. It's almost enough to make me forget that I'm one of the office workers, that shuffle past with their umbrellas and briefcases.

Crap! How the heck did I become one of them?

It appears the only question left to answer is exactly *what* kind of shuffling office worker I am to become. All the options look decidedly bland when compared to writing another scene of my latest MS. God, I promised myself I wouldn't whine about it and LOOK at me.

Anyway, later buddies. I get another jave hit in before I sit behind that desk...

Friday, February 9, 2007

Kissing Sin

It's official -- Keri Arthur rocks :)

Her latest blockbuster book Kissing Sin was released the other day and as you can read on her blog, it has rocketed itself to N0. 18 on the NYT bestsellers list (see it up there after 18th Feb).

And really, this kind of success couldn't happen to a more deserving, hardworking and all around fabbo person who's generous with her time and knowledge.

I remember once, about three weeks after I'd joined our critique group. I was thinking of giving up (!) because I I had no clue how to write, no clue how to find a clue and everyone else seemed so effortlessly talented. I know if we hadn't had this small conversation, I'd still be floundering around at some wanky writers centre pretending I wasn't devouring romance novels fast enough to deforest the Amazon.

Me: "Thanks for everything, I'm not coming back to the group. I guess it just didn't work out."

Keri: "Don't be an idiot. You're coming along and you're bringing work and I don't want to hear another word about this."
or something along those lines along with a promise to show me her first manuscript to make me feel better.

I still smile when I think about it today because it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I feel constantly blessed to be on the other end of her unique blend of encouragement and no-nonsense attitude toward the writing life.

I'll stop now, because if she happens to be reading this she'll give me a hit on the head next time she sees me. But three cheers for you, Ms Kez, and may this success be followed by many more.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

What? You want me to make money? OUTRAGEOUS!

Last September with a few tears but a lot more barn dancing jubilation, I left my job of five years.

I had to leave. I was bored, burned out and run down to the point where I started actually hoping I’d get sick so I wouldn’t have to plant my butt on that dusty pink chair. There came a point where not even the lure of the secret stash of managerial TimTams couldn’t get me excited. And frankly that's unnatural and sad.

So without anything in mind except sleeping, I told hubby I was resigning and taking a four weeks break. It kind of turned into a four month break, but I swear I wasn’t eeeeeking it out. Really.


Have I mentioned that I adore not having a dayjob? That every day is just filled with this awesome fun of doing exactly what I want (writing and reading and going to movies) and that I’m the happiest I think I've ever been. Like ever?

I literally wake up in the morning bubbling with excitement to make this huge list of all the fun stuff I want to do like 'write ten pages, buy herbs and plant in window boxes, make banana cake, take dog for walk' etc. Now that's my kind of to-do list!

Well it’s good - and for a person who used to stress about money I’m surprisingly happy to doodle along on the smell of an oily rag if it means I don’t have to 9to5 my life away. Die-hard shopping and eating-out habits have been changed, people - CHANGED!

So it’s been a four wonderful months, but ***sadly*** it’s drawing to a close. Back to the office for me.


Wings clipped, suit on, and tram ticket purchased. But at least money will be deposited into the oily rag bank account. That’s something to be thankful for.

So in an effort to cheer myself up, these are some things I love about going back to the day job.

  • …um
  • good printers
  • errrr…
  • interaction with exciting people who stimulate my imagination by their sheer stupidity
  • …yeah, that!
  • lunch time
  • help me out here....
  • chain drinking coffee
  • biscuits (God give me strength to stay away from the bicci tin or at least bad navigational skills so I never find it)

ok, I’ve exhausted it.

But I find I can’t quite let go of my new found freedom. I’m contracting, which means I can build in little days of heaven here and there where I practice on that full time writer gig.

Bring on that gig and SOON.


And a big shout out to Melanie for taking a huge step in that direction by signing with a totally awesome agent :) You rock.

The Year My Magic Broke REVISION
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,250 / 49,250

Devil's Delight
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,569 / 90,000

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Yes I would LOVE to make Fairy Floss

You know you’re doing something right when an eight-year-old says to you “Aunty Robyn, you’re like a kid in a grown ups body.”

For me, feeling like an kid in an adult's body is standard fare ; I’ve always been young at heart, always ready for a laugh and often felt so full of joy I thought it would bubble over. I skipped a lot, jumped a lot, regularly rode the trolley down supermarket aisles like a bob cart. But lately it's felt like happiness and finding joy is something I have to choose rather than just experience.

Like tonight when my niece asked me to make fairy floss with her. Maybe two years ago the answer would have been ‘hell yes!’, because let’s face it – making fairy floss sounds like a hoot. But instead I paused, thinking it might get messy. Huh? Since when have I been afraid of a little mess? I'm the original mess maker. I kicked myself, picked her up and spun her around and said said ‘absolutely’.

But the pause made me pause. And while I was on my walk around the river tonight, I realized I’ve been gradually losing my inner girl. Even the walk itself was proof - my inner girl was the type who'd skip and run for the joy of it and would never think of walking like there was some freaky pole up her ass just because it might help her shed a few pounds.

It was a beautiful night, one of those rare twilights where fiery orange hues meet flawless blue sky and the moon shed a pearly glow across the water. The crappy pic from my mobile below doesn't do it any justice. Something inside me started feeling sick that I was racing around the walking path without taking it in. What would my girl do?

She’d stop.

She’d stare and the beauty before her in awe and she’d let all the other joggers and health-nuts pass her by.

And then she’d look around and see there was a magnificent swing set just over to the right and it was calling her name.

So I stopped jogging and got on that swing. I was a little bit rusty but it came back really fast. The wind whipped through my hair and it seemed like I could see for miles across the treetops. I swung until it got dark and that pearly moon, suspended in the sky like a Christmas bauble, got brighter and brighter. When I finally slowed down, I heard a whisper from my inner girl - "I'm glad you're listening," she said.


REVISION of YA 48/190 = 25%

Plotting my way out of a paper bag

If you look over at my word-count-widget thing on the right - things are looking grim. In fact, it's looking like I couldn't string a thousand words together to save myself. It's looking like I refused to get out of bed and instead spent all of January reading novel after novel instead of writing my own (me? read in bed all day? NEVER!).

But no! That little 3654 word count is all character development and plot -- yes, PLOT because this month I've been working with First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner. Now, as the author admits, the title is misleading. What you're aiming for is a heavily detailed outline in 30 days rather than a first draft. But that's fine by me. I never wanted a first draft anyway, just a direction and a road map. Or so I keep telling myself.

It goes like this:
Days 1-6: Preliminary outlines and sketches
Days 7-13: Research
Days 14-15: Story evolution (ideas for beginning, middle, end)
Days 16-24: Formatted outline
Days 25-28: Evaluating the strength of the outline
Days 29-30: Revising outline - and on Day 30, you're to put this outline "on a shelf for at least two weeks to several months". I guess while you let it all sink in. That makes sense, because I'll always put a draft away for a month or so and always find everything is clearer when I go back to it.

But of course, I didn't really end up with a heavily detailed outline either because by Day 15 my my muse went and hid under a rock and no amount of timtams could coax her out. "You're making it boring!" she said, followed by "I just want to write it!".

She started making me dream about the story at 1am and waking me up so I could get my trusty torch pen out to write it all down.So of course I listened to her (she's normally quite sage) and started working on a synopsis based on what I've got. You can take the girl out of the Pantzer, but you can't take the Pantzer out of the girl. Apparently.

But, the good news is that I have a rough frame work rather than flying blind into the mist which always freaks me out and makes me write too fast so that I can figure out what the book is about. The other news is that I learned that I'm not ready and maybe never will be ready for a detailed plot way of working. I'm somewhere in between Plotting and Pantzing.


Writing Theory No. 1 - no one else can teach you what your process is (even a kick ass book like First Draft in Thirty Days), you have to do that work and it takes a LONG TIME. But hey, what's a few years when you're going to be writing for the rest of your life? Exactly.

And Writing Theory No.2 - finding that process, which unfortunately changes over time, is some of the most important work a writer can do. And you have to be gentle with yourself, and just take it on the chin and move on when something doesn't work out. Easier said than done.

In other news, I've finally run out of the 1kg bag (I'm probably exaggerating, but it just seemed to last and last) of Daim I bought at Ikea a month or so back. Now, there are many things to be
thankful about Ikea for: my wardrobes, the beautiful kitchen I built with hubby and maybe even the pull out keyboard that makes my old kitchen table such a great desk. But since I've found these little chocolate covered almond toffees, so slim you can crunch them in one bite - I couldn't give a rat's ass about the furniture. JUST GIVE ME THE CHOCOLATE!!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Starting right now...

Can I just say that if writing a blog is as much fun as creating the template (with the help of then I am TOTALLY IN.

So, the aim is to keep track of my writing progress and generally just amuse myself.
Shouldn't be too hard, I'm notoriously easy to entertain. Seriously, just make some bodily function type noises and you'll have me laughing for hours.