Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

I should be writing an essay, and doing the small writing project that is due, like yesterday, and getting stuck in to my novel that I now have a contract (and a deadline) for. (Ha ha - I am so going to hell in a hand-cart). Somehow I know I will get these things done, hopefully close enough to the deadlines to not annoy anyone too much. Having a contract is a huge psychological boost - a confirmation of commitment, a vote of confidence - a little like a flak jacket for my writer's heart that will protect me from rejection bullets that fly over the parapet from time to time. September is almost over and with it the intense programme of activities that was just a little too stressful. Magically, with the advent of daylight saving last Sunday, the Spring switch was (finally) simultaneously flipped and the weather has been sunny and mild and rather lovely. It really is hard not to have a sunny disposition under these conditions. A few days ago I was looking at my writing with a very jaundiced eye, thinking 'who am I trying to kid' especially after a disappointing result for one particular project but with the contract and a new enthusiasm for another project and this gentle Spring weather, today I think I can...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Planning a nice little staycation these holidays...

sitting down for 5 minutes ... whew! What a week -

Monday I braved the harbour bridge without navigator/wing man/person to squeeze my hand and offer me reassurance during the tricky bits, to attend my first Spinning Tales (2011 Children's Writers and Illustrators Conference/Gathering) Committee meeting. Got invited to jump on board and as they were two members down thought an extra pair of hands might be handy. I am a closet bossy britches and congenitally interfering sort happy to offer my two cents worth until the piggy bank runs dry so naturally gravitate towards committees. So far I feel like I've made a couple of useful contributions and have put my hand up to run the pitching sessions. Folks go here to register your interest in attending this amazing networking and career furthering opportunity next April. There will be a great pitching session organised by moi where you can dazzle publishers (and agents?) with your fabulous manuscript pitch. Start paring down your synopsis/hook/tag line now to fit into 3 to 5 minutes so you are all ready to go next year. There will be prebooking on line before April and gentle support and encouragement offered on the day. I pitched at Spinning Gold and can advise on the amount of Rescue Remedy required to get through, and regale you with tales of how pale everyone looked beforehand and how relieved and proud of themselves everyone was afterwards.

Tuesday I took my middle child to her follow up visit to the oral surgeon who checked out the holes left behind by the removal of six teeth and the four screws now emerging from her gums. We were both thrilled and relieved to find out we would not have to return for another appointment. That afternoon I had my last workshop (number 6 in the series) with the talented budding writers of the local Intermediate only to find they have asked the Deputy School Principal if I can come back for some more sessions with them. I felt most loved and appreciated. They are a great bunch of kids, serious about writing, enthusiastic and very switched on.

Wednesday I took both my girls to the orthodontist (yay - it was the last visit for eldest), delivered them to school, went home, delivered middle child's baking back to school, went home, ran around like a mad thing doing domestic chores and drove down to the airport for a 3.30 flight to Wellington where I was met by the fabulous Ms Colston and her crafty friend Norelle - both finalists in the World of Wearable Arts Awards and after some titivation and sprucing we hied ourselves off to the dress rehearsal. Attending one of these WOW shows should be on everyone's bucket list. I sat riveted for more than two hours through the most delicious spectacle full of the most amazing creations. I was truly WOWed. Thank you so very much to Fifi for inviting me to this wonderful event and to both Fifi and her SO Adrian for putting me up in Wellington.

Thursday after chatting with Fifi before she had to dash off to work, and then Adrian who showed me this smart view (scroll down to the talk by Sir Ken Robinson) on education which I totally agreed with, I was dropped into Wellington City for coffee with Wellington authors Maureen Crisp, Fleur Beale and Philippa Werry - bliss. I trotted off afterwards for an hour or two of wandering around Te Papa (yay the childrens shop had my book The Were-Nana) before heading back to the airport and home. In the meantime Maureen had forwarded this link to me on why blogging is such a good idea. Thanks Maureen! Back in Auckland I whipped up dinner (rats - the water was too hot and killed the yeast in my very flat pizza dough) before meeting with Auckland authors Tania Hutley, Jill Marshall and Dawn Grant to farewell soon to be ex-Auckland author Kathy White. Lots of booky gossip in two cities made me feel authory to the bone.

Friday I went a-school-visitin' to Sancta Maria Primary in Flatbush, also meeting up with new author Leonie Agnew who is a teacher there. The children were just so passionate about books and I got to hear some of them read out their stories. Excellent work guys! In the evening I learned Fifi had won third place in her category. Go check out her brilliant entry at the WOW winners pages (titled Lady Curiousity), inspired by Rachel King's book Magpie Hall.

Today (Saturday) I took my middle child (she had some tickets after filling goodie bags as a job a few weekends before) to Fashion Week's Garage Sale where we scored some fashionable bargains at Stolen Girlfriends Club and Lonely Hearts. This evening it is her dance performance at the The Performing Arts Centre in Western Springs. Tomorrow I have a critique group meeting. Next week it is school holidays. We will be having a staycation at home.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Current status?...grovelly...

It finally happened. My brain got so full, some things fell out. My current MO is to apologise a lot. I'm sorry I forgot. I'm sorry I have to postpone this. I'm sorry I'm not on time. I'm sorry I put you in this position. Current status? - grovelly. Ah well. I's doin my best under tricky circumstances. I always knew September was going to be a bit overwhelming and it has only got more so - more appointments, more tasks, more responsibilities. Bring on October I say. Of course this is when my mobile phone decides to pack a sad and die on me. I've already picked out a new one. Its red which makes it go faster.

A happy spot or three for me - last weekend I got to see my eldest compete in The Allstar Cheerleading Spring Carnival. We sold off our last fundraising hot dog by 7pm and sat through the performances of the final four teams, two of whom contain my daughter. Then it was prize giving. Both teams did well and one of them won top overall team. Yay!! My son is off doing what he loves best, competing in another soccer tournament in Taupo this weekend and my middle child, who has been invited to move up a class for Screen Acting, is dancing next saturday at the Performing Arts Centre. And tonite its just me and my sweet honey bee, with the boys away and eldest off to a party in Southside. We are plotting takeaways from Burger Fuel and a mini Harry Potter film festival.

And the release of the short story anthology, Pick 'nMix: Vol. 1 (Scholastic NZ) in November is getting close enough for me to feel that twinge of delicious anticipation. There is at least one of my stories in there (Smart Soup) and maybe two (The Man With the Dog Eye), and some of my Fabo writery pals (Tania and Kathy) have stories in there too. The book looks real pretty and I'll load up a picture as soon as I make this disobedient technology bend to my will. Volume 2 is coming out next February. Yeehah.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wasted White Cat...

Finished White Cat by Holly Black way too fast - sigh. Thoroughly enjoyed this clever YA tale and discovered that not all my guesses about what was to happen were correct, yay. With the hushed-up murder of a young girl on his hands several years earlier, 17 year old Cassel Sharpe is being stalked by a white cat and hassled by his dysfunctional magic working family while trying to live a normal life. What is really going on? Where does the cat come from and why are there gaps in Cassel's memories? Young Cassel will have the girls swooning and the plot is smart, credible and just the right amount of complex. Ms Black has thought out her alternate reality very well and I was highly impressed with her attention to detail and the lengths she went to for authenticity (you'll have to read the acknowledgements for that one). The first in a trilogy (so apparently the trilogy format is not yet dead), I, for one, will be lining up for book two - Red Glove - next year. Now I'm on to Nicola Morgan's Wasted and have been disturbed by the coincidences I've been experiencing since beginning this book, which has as it's central theme the idea of chance, luck and fate. Fascinating stuff. I shall let you know what I think when I am finished.

Have been getting some unexpected and lovely feedback recently on my picture books. Was delighted to hear my first pb, Clever Moo, was being used in the classroom to teach writing at an Auckland primary school, and The Were-Nana gained some new fans in Hamilton. I've been invited to read The Were-Nana for a special storytime on October 2nd at 11am at the Mt Roskill Library and Pt England School have done a super podcast on The Were-Nana which you can check out here. I especially love how when students Brooke and Selina read the part about Simon scaring his sister with a spider on her plate, ask the question who's brother would do that and both agree that their brother would. Siblings do all sorts of things to each other, including mean and scary things and I like to explore these kinds of things in my writing. Its great to know that readers relate to the family dynamics I portray.

Congrats to fellow writer and faboist, Kyle Mewburn, who is the next University of Otago, College of Education, Children's Writer in Residence. And if you haven't checked it out lately, you should go see where our crazy tale The Visitor's has gone at http://www.fabostory.blogspot.com/ (now up to chapter 8). Love the ruby encrusted lingerie - those are some big gems!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I need a holiday...

Feeling a bit stressed at the moment - my men are away on a week long soccer jaunt to the beautiful port city of Tauranga, the SO coaching and the son playing at an intermediate schools multi-sport tournament. All rather cool really but I can tell you right now by the end of the week we are ALL going to be shattered and there is a soccer tournament for the SO's team (will he play, my bionic knee boy? - I don't know) on Saturday and my eldest's cheerleading competition on Sunday at which I am helping all day with fundraising for more overseas travel for her. Eldest starts school exams tomorrow which go for most of next week too and today my middle child is having six teeth out, including two still up in her gums. I am working on an essay and have some writing to do when I am not driving offspring around for appointments. I am sure the dog is having murderous thoughts as there is not enough time for his regular walks. I fear waking in the night to find him standing over me with a cocked revolver. Of course I can't begin to imagine how those living in Christchurch must be feeling right now after last Saturday's devastating earthquake. So, so very lucky that no lives were lost but so much destruction and the daily fabric of life ripped to shreds. I have been impressed by how the machine of repair and restoration has smoothly swung into action but normalcy looks to be still some time away.

Ideas are afraid of me right now. If they appear inside my head they bounce around like an agitated electron, unable to stop for more then a few seconds at a time. I can't seem to settle to anything. My one relief at the moment (the one thing I don't have time for and shouldn't be doing but if I don't I may explode) is reading Holly Black's White Cat - okay I think I figured out the main plot twist after the first page and I reckon I know what is going to happen and why, but I DON'T CARE. The writing is so sweet and delicious and mind feeding that I am bowling along at a rate of knots thoroughly enjoying the experience. I may just have to post up a short review when I am finished and let you know if my assumptions were correct (not that I would ever reveal what those assumptions actually were). If my brain doesn't explode and my head doesn't fall off normal transmission will return next week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Laughable myths and sobering truths....

Interesting post today over at Nicola Morgan's blog, Help! I Need a Publisher. The life of a writer is shrouded in laughable myths and sobering truths but as Nicola says its good to be prepared.

In my last post I mentioned my submission explosion (waiting on thirteen things not 12, as first reported) and this got me to wondering. It is most unlikely that I should get a bunch of yeses but if for arguments sake I got a yes from every different publisher I've submitted to for different projects (which is possible but as i said, most unlikely) I would have 7 new different publishers (plus my current one). While I seriously don't think I have anything to worry about it occured to me that this might be considered bad form. On the one hand I write in more than one genre and not all publishers publish all things. Even if they do chapter books and picture books, they may not publish all variety of picture books. Not all publishers of chapter books publish YA. They might do fantasy but not historical or contemporary. Not all publishers do short story anthologies. One publisher may not like every story I come up with. It is acceptable then, if you write across different genre that you may have more than one publisher. But what happens if they have overlaps in what they publish. Who gets first dibs? Does it come back to the best contract? What kind of loyalty can be asked and expected? I'm thinking my submission explosion might lead to a brain explosion before it leads to anything else. From my point of view, for each of my stories I want the publisher who feels the most passionate about it to take it on (they're unlikely to take it on otherwise). And a good working relationship between author and publisher is essential. It's not my intention to annoy any publishers, but my goal for each and every one of my book babies is publication and if this means multiple publishers then I will do my best to work out any kinks that may crop up as I go along. I like to think that the more books of mine that are published, the more each publisher may benefit and every one would be happy. That's the plan.