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.