Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'll start tomorrow, I promise...

I read a few books while I was away on holiday. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher which I loved and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare which mostly annoyed me. There are few things as satisfying when reading a book as figuring out the subtext and feeling clever because you have done so. I realise now how important 'voice' is to me - Ketchup Clouds has a strong voice. Its a common quality in my favourite reads. I know books are such a subjective art form. Enough readers have loved the (best selling) Mortal instrument series by Clare to inspire a major studio to make it into a movie. Don't get me wrong - there were things I liked about the City of Bones book, but ultimately the annoying things outweighed them. Things like repeating the same description for the same character, often on the same page, or contradicting a description with a second description soon after the first. There was a lot of 'telling' and info dumping. World building for alternate or new worlds should feel natural (think Lord of the Rings or Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy or Holly Black's Curse Worker books- as complex as these were I didn't struggle to recall details or connections between them with those books) but I didn't enjoy having to remember all the elements required in City of Bones. And what does 'green-scented' mean???? I liked the three main protagonists and consequently found the relationship twist at the end of this first book a little repugnant. I didn't really enjoy the writer's style and I respect that this is a taste thing. But having recently picked up another best seller which I quickly put down again because the writing was so unsubtle (I hate it when I can see the author trying so hard) and the plot so, so ... clunky ..... I am a tad grumpy. It probably didn't help that I came home from the holiday and went to see The Hobbit and wasn't entirely happy about what Mr Jackson had done with it. Much respect to Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and James Nesbitt (in that order) however. And I am now reading Ian Rankin's Standing in Another Man's Grave and am happy to report, so far, so good. If nothing else, all this serves to remind me I must try harder when writing my own books and find a hobbit hole to hide in if anyone ever makes one into a movie.

I must admit it's been hard to get back in to writing mode after being away. I'm still feeling quite holidayish...

We waved goodbye to the Sydney Opera House on Dec 12th

and tried picking coconuts on Lifou on Dec 16th

and went rock climbing while at sea
played table tennis
and mini golf

and went swimming at tropical locations

I am not waiting three years for my next holiday. And I promise, tomorrow I start writing again...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Veni, vidi, visa...

Well, that was a blast. You know it's a great holiday when your blood pressure goes down by 10 to 20 points. I read, I lazed, I sightsaw, I bathed, I sunbathed, I stargazed and moon bathed too. And of course I shopped as well. Colour me relaxed.

There was unspoilt and tropical...

and then there was the city

and this is what happens at Bondi Beach when the end of the world is imminent
I forgot all my worries. I laughed ... a lot. Bring on 2013, cos I am ready.

So what does next year hold? My second to last university paper (just enrolled). I'm booked for a workshop already. I have a book to finish writing and two (hopefully three) books to launch. I plan to read more next year. And hang out with my SO and kids as much as possible because they are the best company. Oh, and of course I will keep blogging. I am experimenting with a bunch of stuff - epublishing, DIY, branding and marketing exercises, etc....and will pass on whatever I discover. You know I do it all for you guys :)

I hope you are having a peaceful, loving and fun-filled Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. Love and best wishes to you all.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Going dark in colour...

This blog is going dark till Christmas (in a colourful way of course, cos that's how I roll) as tomorrow I am off on a much needed holiday with my famdamily. I have a thousand and one chores to do and no minions to palm them off on so today's post will be brief. Instead of words I have decided to regale you with some pictures. Here in no particular order -

the cake I made for my niece's 21st. I made four chocolate cakes for this, and hand cut 21 stars. It tasted very nice.

We dressed up for the occasion (my eldest and I)

And I'm embarrassed to say my advance copy of A Winter's day in 1939 came to the party too (hanging out here with Elora and my SO)

My middle child was in the YASC's terrific production of The Taming of the Shrew as the haberdasher
and the widow
and finally someone took a picture of my son so I can confirm he is not just a figment of my imagination
So there you have it. Talk amongst yourselves in my absence and I look forward to hanging out with you on my return. Keep safe and have a very happy Christmas

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sally Bangle: Unexpected Detective

I seem to have published a book: a junior mystery for confident readers aged 8 to 11. Here it is

It is available to buy at Smashwords and at Amazon. Soon it should also be available for Kobo, ipads, at Barnes and Noble and Sony.

This is what it is about:  

Sally Bangle's sea faring dad was lost at sea seven years before. But is he really dead? When Sally is given a school project to research the very strange Professor Angstrom she turns up some interesting information about that fateful sea voyage. What really happened? Is that really the Professor wrapped up in bandages in St Olafs? Sally won't rest until she has figured out the mystery and she drags her best friend, her best friend's chauffer, her brother and the school bully along on a dangerous mission to discover the truth.

If it were a print book it would probably be about 170 pages long. I am rather pleased cos I did it all myself, except for the cover which I had some professional help with. This was my original picture 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Angst is a life-shortener...

eeek - the days are flying by. Time for a new post methinks. As you will all know if you have been reading along it has been quite a year. When I think back on all the things that have happened this year I have trouble believing that I squeezed all that in to less than 12 months. At times I was chasing my tail, juggling too many balls and feeling stressed. Thank goodness I wasn't juggling chainsaws. My health has been a bit rubbish and I'm not sure if that was a cause or a symptom of other things. Looking back over what I have been up to, after moaning and groaning probably more than I should have, I can't actually help feeling a little bit proud and pretty happy about all the things I achieved. Lots of deadlines, appointments and events mean you get a lot of things done. Now that the pressure has eased off I am feeling guilty that I'm not doing stuff and am wasting heaps more time doing silly pointless things. Of course this week is an exception because we are going away next week and all the things I have been avoiding while I twiddle my thumbs in a decorative fashion now need doing before we go. So I am making lists and working my way through them - suffice to say I will have enough underwear to wear on my holiday and I WILL remember to pack the power cord for my laptop so I can keep writing.

I am also assembling everything I need to upload my junior fiction as an e-book. The manuscript is edited and I am about to start formatting. I have been thinking alot about e-books and print books and the publishing industry and publishers, agents, booksellers and everyone else. If you are agonising about ANY aspect of publishing, know that you are not alone. It is an imperfect science. The best way forward is to keep informed, make decisions you can live with and don't angst over everything. Angst is a life-shortener. My experiment in publishing my junior novel Sally Bangle: Unexpected Detective myself is a terrific opportunity to test it all out. I want to know, so I am finding out. After all, knowledge is power.

And I was extremely thrilled to see this in the post last week.

The latest Magpies magazine. And look who is inside it!!

Yes, it's me!!Thank you to the very lovely Julie Harper who interviewed me and wrote a very nice article about me for the New Zealand section of the magazine. I was most excited (still am).