Thursday, 26 November 2009

Free Book!

Please help free a copy of my book from the confines of a cardboard box. Go here for details.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Circle of Life

One of the (many) ways I reveal myself to be a Proper Pom is the way I squeal at native wildlife - though I have improved slightly since last year when I got very excited about possums (the equivalent of tourists in the UK taking squillions of photos of grey squirrels), mainly because the buggers have eaten the strawberry plant and keep pooing on the garden furniture. I'm all outta love for them but when The Australian's dad (aka The Really Really Australian Australian) rescued a cicada from the jaws of my cat the other day, I went into full Squealing Pom mode. "Look at it!" I breathed. "It's...amazing." It was a green grocer cicada. The reason I was so impressed is because all last summer I heard these big boys making their incredibly loud "song" underground (their noisemakers are called "timbals" and it's like their ribs contracting...I think...I'm not very good at science.) I'd get down on the grass and put my ear low and my word it was loud - but I never caught a single glimpse of one...until dear old Shadow brought one home to play with. 'Course we let Bert the Green Grocer go and kept the cat in to give the little guy a chance...whereupon it was seized by a bird. Oops. Sorry, Bert, but it's the Circle of Life n' all...

I realise I can't compete with Mufasa, but if you're stuck for something to do you could do worse than watch me do a Virtual Reading over here.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2009


We've done "books are like babies" to death, now let's try "books are like carrots". This is what happens when you want to see the results of your efforts so badly that you harvest prematurely... Cute effort, but basically no good to anyone in the long-run (after we'd killed ourselves laughing and taken a photo, we left it to wither on the kitchen bench). So next time you think your manuscript is ready...think of my carrot!

Now you can see why I dedicated my book to my children "who are much better at waiting than I am" - it wasn't them who pulled up the carrot.

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Monday, 9 November 2009


I don't write book reviews these days, but I wanted to mention Threads by Sophia Bennett because it's the first book I've read in ages, which makes me want to shout from the rooftops: I'M ME AGAIN!

I think I'm just recovering from the author's version of cold feet before a wedding. The build-up towards my own book being released reached silly proportions (in my head, I mean) and I found I could neither concentrate on my work-in-progress nor delve into any of the many books that have piled up recently. It seemed like the best dream in the world - becoming a published author - was being blighted by my worst nightmare - not being able to READ!

But Threads has cured me. Captivated, inspired and cured me. I won't go on too much because, as I say, I don't do reviews, but suffice to say that if you know a girl aged between 10 and 14 who likes books and / or fashion, get them this for Christmas. I feel like that's a more English version of telling you to buy my book for Christmas (um, please do that, too, um, if you like).

Not only does Sophia Bennett have a style and wit that would please any reader, she also has an uncanny ability to make you want to update your wardrobe. Reading about her characters' quirky dress designs reminded me of Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink, cutting stuff up and sewing it back together all funny-like. To someone who has virtually no original sense of style, Sophia's teenage characters had me wide-eyed and willing to be influenced...of course they didn't actually come shopping with me today, so they can't be held responsible for the maxi-dress in Aegean blue, that makes me look like an entire Greek Island, or the tunic dress that anyone going to a 60s night is more than welcome to borrow. But it felt good to be bold - a girl can only wear so much black.

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Thursday, 5 November 2009

One For The NaNoNaySayers

A good-writer-friend of mine (she's a good writer and a good friend) recently asked me if talking about my novel as a NaNoWriMo project worried me at all. I said "no", with the gusto of a writer who discovered the benefits of NaNo a little way along the line, as if I have to make up for the times I've privately thought that NaNoWriMo was a bit like "rushing your homework". Because, I have to admit, when I first joined a writers' forum and the subject of "writing 50k words in a month" came up, I dismissed it. I'll go further than that - I thought it sounded a bit naff. It didn't go along with the romantic vision I was still clinging onto, of brilliant wordsmiths squeezing out word by painful word.

Of course, by that point, I'd written four first chapters. I'd written slightly fewer second chapters, and still fewer thirds. I was very very good at starting things and very very bad at keeping them going. I was, let's face it, a bit pretentious and fairly naive.

About a year on I received a massive slap in the face (metaphorical) about a book I'd sweated blood over. I was pregnant at the time and resolved not to let it get me down - I make that sound a little easier than it was. It was then that I thought: right, I've got a month until this baby comes - I'm going to let my hair down. I meant as far as writing goes, so I signed up for NaNoWriMo, and resolved to write a first draft in triple-quick time - something funny-but-dark, because that's the sort of thing I love. My main aim was to please myself.

In one way I failed - I didn't make it to 50k and I didn't get my NaNo winners badge. But I made it to 35k, with a few days to spare before the baby arrived. And boy I'd had fun. I loved my characters. I hadn't a clue where it had all come from, but it was there - November 2006, the story unfolded before my very eyes / very fast-typing fingers. I was a complete convert. Kind of like an ex-smoker. NaNo was The Best. How had I lived without NaNo before? What was wrong with all those people who didn't understand what a great thing NaNo was?

But herein lies the truth of the matter: the 35k words I wrote during that November 2006 are not the same words as the ones now in a real-life printed book in-all-good-bookshops-blahblahblah. The book is about 65k words and I couldn't possibly say how many of the original 35k survived. The point is that NaNo gave me the freedom to indulge - to believe that for One Month Only, writing was my priority. That really can't be the case for most part-time writers - it's very difficult to fit writing in around full-time jobs (I'm including full-time parenting there, obviously) - but many of us can throw caution to the wind and devote 30 days per year to it. Really go for it. It's only writing the same number of words as many professional writers would do, only we're not quite there yet, so we have to squeeze the hours, instead of the words.

What all long-toothed writers know is that writing a book is not about the first words that come to mind, but what we do after those first words have come to us, been put down on paper, rested a bit, and then undergone one of the most painful tortures known to WriterKind: rewrites. That's where you'll find the blood, sweat and tears.

So if you still think NaNo is a bit like rushing your homework, think again. There's nothing tacky about devoting a month to a first draft. It's what you do with it afterwards that counts.

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