25 July, 2007


I had a day off in Canberra with Steven yesterday, looking at art and trying to find a decent scone (a rather nice muffin at Cafe In The House was the closest we got).

This morning I've been as responsible as I could be, revising 5 pages before breakfast. However, it's all Harry-chauffeuring today, to the orthodontist this morning and then to get a referral and a wrist X-ray this afternoon. What is it with my sons and their wrists?

Anyway, I will take a tender morsel or two around with me in case I get any time in the waiting rooms.

22 July, 2007

Some good news and some not-unexpected news

The world is full of invisible newspapers. Apparently, Simmone Howell and Charles Dickens and I are on the Age's teen top forty, which I can't find online; their book section, like book sections worldwide, is wall-to-wall Rowling and Potter.

And the Irish Times won't let me look at who got on the Frank O'Connor shortlist, but as no one contacted me to insist I come to Cork, I'm obviously not one of them. Well, it was fun dreaming. (I think buying that map of Ireland probably jinxed me, however much I insisted to myself it was for the purposes of family history reference. You have to be careful with these things.)

No writing was or will be done this weekend. Today is yum cha and then the Birthday Dinner for Jack tonight—he's invisible too so far, hasn't come back from his night's carousing. Yesterday was sleeping in, exercise and relaxation. Tomorrow, back to the coalface for the final walk-through.

20 July, 2007

I have reached the point...

...in the revisions where, if I'm going out and I know everyone else is going to be out of the house, I lock the manuscript away with the laptop. This is because back in March, our house was broken into, and I've done enough work on the revisions (and not word-processed it yet - I'll do that when I've completely scribbled over the entire manuscript next week) for it to be, not traumatic (and it probably wouldn't hurt the story at all—hmm, must think about what that implies about the state it's in), but a big bloody nuisance to go back in to the last WP'd version and re-do them.

This morning I wrote two pages of the new thread (nasty Teasel Wurledge lusting after Branza) before heading out to the birthday-shopping, which I've just got back from. It's not as if we bought a lot, but my goodness, it was a full day. We did pretty much all of King Street, Newtown, and a fair whack of the centre of the CBD. And during the long tryings-on of extremely tight jeans, I read Holly Black's Valiant. Gotta get me some of that Nevermore...

Anyway, also, because of my early-morning diligence (it really unlocks my brain, writing before I'm properly awake), I kept having ideas all the time I was out, including good ones for The Next Novel, which is kind of cool, because until last weekend's workshop I had no clue where I might start on the next project once Tender Morsels is done. (What, Tender Morsels will be done? Is that possible? *world changes shape*). It is all very tentative and secret, but it feels as if it might be a whole lot of fun. I'll let you know about it when I feel more certain of it.

19 July, 2007

A 90-page day...

...and I found a whole other story strand I might pursue. Possibly only three scenes long, so, manageable. And I chopped a bit today—too many dwarf scenes. I was enjoying that dwarf way too much, so I've merged two of his visits to the other-world. So there's room for this other strand. It involves yet more sex, I'm sorry. Yes, I know, there is already a lot of sex in this book. And this is quite bad sex; there's more than a touch of bestiality and exhibitionism in it. But it'll be funny too, I hope—which makes that all okay, doesn't it?

Yes, so I've got through the big lumps that needed adding (except for this new one), and I'm coming up to the sections of the book that I just lately went through, so...is that a gleam of light I'm seeing, at the end of the tunnel?

Surely not—tomorrow I'll find some major inconsistency. Actually, tomorrow is shopping-for-Jack's-birthday day, so I won't get a lot done. Good thing I was so amazingly massively productive today, eh. :)

18 July, 2007

One magical romance later...

Hmm, the pages-revised count is shockingly low, though—a shameful 20. And I think I need to get more specific about the things she does that he finds enchanting. Right now there's a lot of this:

No, there isn't, not for you. I started typing some in, but then I hit some sentences that really, really are too obvious and icky, so I'll have another go at them before anyone sees them.

So okay, try this. This is the man who has been enchanted into bear form, in the cottage with the mother and her two daughters:
And there was so much sensation in being the animal—the scents of these three, for instance, so much a family and yet the three so very distinct, the dark girl more savoury and the golden-haired one more honey-like and the woman the sweetest of all. I could not place what flower it was she recalled to me, or perhaps what sweetmeat, or perhaps— But the three of them, they busied and dizzied the air around, and I were continually snuffling at it, reading their flashes of mood and interest.
Dark-girl day tomorrow, and a bit more dwarf.

I thought it was around that time of year...

...and I checked, and tomorrow will be my second blogiversary. In keeping with my advanced age, I missed the first one because it only felt like the blogi-sixmonthery and hardly worth celebrating. But this year I'm noting it, and have treated myself to a statcounter to reward myself for my persistence. Thank you for being counted, and I hope you enjoy being on my bar graph.

Now, to work on the magical romance.

17 July, 2007

Oh, okay...

...70 pages will have to do. I have the big magic-infused romance to take care of in the next chapter. It needs more energy than I've got, after having spent the day bringing up fictional daughters, cultivating deep fears in mothers' psyches, and popping dwarves in and out of Heaven.

Down to business

Right. Sunday was workshop day again, read-for-feedback day, which is always fascinating, like crawling into people's brains with a magnifying glass. It's just very, very heartening, not just in terms of my own writing but in terms of, I don't know, my faith in human nature, to watch other people following this impulse to tell stories at work, and trying to make something coherent of their memories and impressions.

Then yesterday I went back to the novel, all heartened and everything, and I revised 80 pages. (!!) This week I'm going through front to back and filling in all the holes, all of them, both the between-scenes missing bits and the scrappy, in-square-brackets moments of doubt and need-for-research.

I'm hoping to get through a similar amount today. Yes. I am.

Then next week I will go through doing close work again. Then I'll send it off. Then I have permission to catch the flu and be bedridden for all of August, and get through my To Be Read piles.

Oh, and my copy of Click arrived yesterday, the one Linda Sue and Gregory Maguire are holding here. Happy.

15 July, 2007

Ooh, look!

I'm number 89 in a Working Canon of Slipstream Fiction. In some excellent company.

Rest day

from the novel yesterday, while I went to Jan Cornall's Draft Buster workshop, which is probably the main reason the novel writing has gone so well this year (overall, I mean—let's not talk about this last week).

We had a fast-writing marathon, and I used it to start on the short story, which is a thing of bastardised family history, with added fairies, lots of fiendlish fiddle-playing (that bit's not fictional) and, as I discovered, a significant river or stream nearby at every crucial piece of action.

Also had a good whinge about how hard writing/life/everything is, and got lots of sympathy, which is, I know, despicable of me, but seems to help clear the brain. :)

Today we go from 10 to 4 again, this time reading out bits for feedback; I suppose I'll take along a piece of novel. *grumble*

Slept through the Tour last night—don't know if I'll be able to resist tonight, though—they'll be in the mountains. Mm, other people's pain and suffering, mm.

13 July, 2007

The kind of review that makes me feel ill

Of Red Spikes, from over here (caps theirs, bolding mine):
READ BEFORE USE WITH STUDENTS—Contains graphic descriptions of violence and drug use.

This book appears to be aimed at a wider demographic than the young adult market targeted by earlier titles such as Black Juice. It employs a similar crossover of genres in the ten short stories included. The stories contain dark themes and challenge readers to interpret language that is skilled and poetic. Appropriate for Senior English and Senior English Extension (Literature).

Words are used more for suggestion than clarification and the intense imagery provokes disturbing ambiguities that will stimulate analysis. A variety of vernacular adds to the interest. Plots vary, but have in common the author’s hallmark quirky ideas. Stories range from one about a woman who is cruelly gagged and punched about the head because of her witch-like ability to make mice and a frightening bogeyman in the manner of Wee Willy Winkie, to the bleaker stories of the machinations of ‘Hell and Heaven’, and the god-like budgie who tenderly provides a simulacrum to protect a family member from the graphically depicted evils of drug taking. [And then, oh my gawd:] Appropriate for investigating the roles of author, reader, text and world while developing an 'understanding of the influence of various contexts on the production of texts and on the reading practices through which readers make meaning' [Just as I always dreamed!].

The, um, 'graphically depicted evils of drug taking'? A girl's boyfriend injects himself. His eyes roll back into his head. She gets bored and leaves.

Oh, okay, the monkey rape scene was pretty violent. But they were monkeys. And I didn't put in anything I hadn't seen on television. And I don't recall there being a warning on the nature documentary about the graphic violence. There you go, though, books are clearly more powerful than television.


I went through and made notes on the ms about how old everyone ought to be in each scene, if I'm to implement the changes in my fantastic timeline tables.

I should be happy, because this means that the hero can be much younger and spunkier instead of a worn-out middle-aged father of five as he was (he can really only fit three children into the adjusted timeline I've given him—hmm, that can still tire him out plenty, I guess).

Mostly it was a day spent sleeping to avoid work, though, and watching the Tour, and wishing there was another someone who knew this story as well as I did, so that I could sit down with her and talk this through and be encouraged by her enthusiastic suggestions.

This weekend is a workshop weekend; eight hours of speedwriting and talking about stories with 10 or so other people. That should reduce the cabin-craziness a little, and hopefully kick me along into next week's work with a bit more energy.

12 July, 2007

A word of advice

If your novel involves any kind of slippage of time, for example, two worlds, one of which's time runs a little faster than the other's, well, um, it might be a good idea to sit down and nut out exactly how that's going to work and why before you get to 80% finished.

Just for those of you who, like me, have been bitten by over-outlining and tried to swear off it completely. Moderation in all things, eh.

Four pages of intricate tables and many hours of timeline adjusting happened today. Not a new word in sight. Result, one broken brain, and a curious (not too curious if you consider the three glasses of wine last night) lowness of spirits. I did go for a ride, though, and for a walk, so I've been working on that. Bought new walking shoes to replace the ugly-as-sin cast-offs of Harry's that I've been wearing the last six months; now my feet will feel just like normal huge feet, instead of like huge feet encased in several layers of bubble wrap. I'm sure that will help. It was also good that the sun shone; that was lovely; thank you to whoever was responsible.

11 July, 2007


and the Tender Morsels juggernaut rolls on.

Pages revised: 6
Pages deleted: 6
Pages written: 11

Climactic scene revised, heroine successfully terminated. (But it's okay; her daughters are heroines too.)

Exercise taken: 1 x walk Petersham Park at sunrise, 1 x walk Dulwich Hill midday
Aerobics: None
Alcohol reading: Nothing since Saturday

*glows with goodness*

And I've enough energy left to stay up and type 'n' Tour tonight.

10 July, 2007


All chickens sent off again. All supermarket shopping completed. Tech. writing tweaks done. Books (own, for publicity) ordered. Tax thingy sorted—well, as sorted as the ATO's buggy online form will let it be. It's 4.45 (p.m.) and my working day can begin.

But first I'll put the stew on. (This makes it sound as if I always cook. Do not be fooled.)

Many chickens...

...have come home to roost today. It's weird—I must have attracted them with my comment about purty covers the other day. Three emails in a row arrived last night, asking me to re-read stories for anthologies—that should pretty much take care of the morning, eh.

It also makes me think, with some foreboding, of the size of the task when I'll have to check proofs of Tender Morsels, for several editions. I'll have to set aside a day or two each time. (I know, sux to be me - :) )

But truly, it's a lesson—don't let go the draft of something until you like it so much you don't mind reading it five or six times more very closely. When you think you're being fussy, making changes to the things that irritate you, just remember how many more times you're going to be irritated by it, and you'll find the necessary prima-donna-ish-ness, up your sleeve somewhere.

And now, I think that's enough mixed metaphors for anyone's morning, and I'll go and have breakfast.

PS The lack of hangover is amply compensated for by the staying up late to watch bike races. Oh, okay, so I don't get the headache. Oh, okay, so I have two thoughts to rub together. Oh, okay, so I'm now garrulous to the point of annoying on this blog. Dang, I had a nasty feeling abstinence would work.

PPS Oh, and hi, Linda Sue!

Just finished typing

(which is a good way to keep oneself awake for the Tour coverage). Wordcount: 113,776. I think they might have to print this in 6pt.

09 July, 2007

The week stretches ahead

And here is a snippet (with a lot of snippings in it) from deep in this novel's bowels...
Urdda could no longer watch the words issue from that calm beloved mouth. She wanted to hear no more, but she had begun this telling, and she knew she would not rest until she had heard it to the end. She took up the shears, and some funeral velvet and bride-sister white that had been pushed by her mother's work to her side of the table, and she snipped small pieces off them, so small that the snippings fell as little more than dust to her lap. The snipping stopped her hands from shaking, and with them the rest of her body. Their slish-slish through the cloth was a calm, mechanical sound behind the other, her mother's voice building a tower, a tower of unspeakable creatures, like kinds of loathsome frogs that had agreed somehow to fit together, to balance and cling to each other and become this structure, however much their instinct was to slide, to ooze, to spring away.
Now I'm about halfway through revising the climactic scene (actually, it contains 25 climaxes); then I just have to kill off one heroine, marry off another and send the third one off to pursue her career in magic.

Oh yes, and revise chapters 1 to 9 to match what I've done in 10 to 12.

Piece of cake.

08 July, 2007

Today's work...

...was pretty light-on, because it was Sunday, and there was a large Lebanese meal in Lakemba to take on board, as well as a late night (the Tour de France is on and the coverage here started at 11.55 p.m.) and a little wine (we went out for dinner) to get over.

But I did type in two scenes I drafted ages ago and finally decided to include. This brings the total wordage to more than 110,000. *boggle*

I also printed an outline. You can't do this directly from Scrivener (which, since Steven put the new RAM in, has been working like a dream), but it looks fine and is usable as screen grabs of the overall and chapter outlines in a Word document.

Here are the scene synopses of the first chapter. As you can see, it is full of jolly japes, hi-jinks and super fun. :)

Apart from this there was some judicious sorting and paper-clipping done in the Notes and Research Notes folder, just to make sure that there weren't any sneaky To-Do lists hiding down the back.

So now I'm all set to get serious again tomorrow.


Google alerted me this morning (after having a rest from alerting me to anything for about four months) to this anthology that I'm in, ARCs of which must now be out and readable-on-planes, although I haven't seen a copy yet. It's coming out from Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic US) in October, same time as Red Spikes is coming out from Knopf.

So I went looking for it, and...here it is, although Amazon has mistitled it. And it's hard to search for, its title being so widely used across the Internet for commands and such. I ended up finding it by Googling "doyle lanagan hornby click novel scholastic".

It's not really an anthology, more a collaborative novel, although, as with The Lost Shimmaron, the authors were pretty much free to do their own thing within certain parameters. And this is who we are:
Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of A STAR CALLED HENRY; Nick Hornby, author of ABOUT A BOY; Ruth Ozeki, author of MY YEAR OF MEATS; Margo Lanagan, Prinz Honor Award-winning author of BLACK JUICE; Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award-winning author of A SINGLE SHARD; David Almond, winner of the Whitbread Award and Carnegie Medal and author of SKELLIG; Gregory Maguire, author of WICKED; Tim Wynne-Jones, two-time winner of Canada's Governor General's award and author of ONE OF THE KINDER PLANETS; Deborah Ellis, author of THE BREADWINNER; Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl Books.
Quite a posse, no? The editorial review calls us 'the world's best beloved authors', although I think I may have snuck in under the radar on that, tee-hee.

We were also free, full stop—moneys are all going to Amnesty International. So, we may not get to eat, but we get to be holier-than-thou. :)

Cheryl Klein reckons: 'This book is so freakin' cool. Ten different authors each wrote one chapter illuminating the life of George Keane, photojournalist, or the stories of his grandchildren Maggie and Jason, who inherit both his gifts and a mission.'

And here is a blog entry by Linda Sue, dealing not only with Click (different cover there), but with all the fun everyone had without me at this year's Newbery Dinner/ALA Conference, waah! Also with golf-ball pyramids. Go feast your eyes.

Here is the other cover.

It's nice when a bunch of deadlines starts turning into a bunch of purty books, I have to say. I can't imagine how wonderful it will feel to have this end-of-July deadline all shiny-covered in my hands. I think I might just vapourise with relief.


Was Saturday, but some mapping went on. Now I have all the scenes I need in the last chapter, which was a chapter and an epilogue, but is now merged into a seven-scene chapter.

I also made notes on some of the earlier chapters. Makes me a bit toey to have these only in Scrivener, being such a hard-copy addict. I must work out how you print outlines and notes from Scrivener. Or learn how to relax about it!

The health regimen has gone well this week - 2 lots of stretches, 3 bike rides, no grog except Friday and Saturday night. *pats self on head* One effect has been that I haven't needed an afternoon nap to get through the day since Tuesday, and I've been able to do a bit of work in the evenings, after tea. This week I'm looking to do 3 lots of stretches, 4 rides, and avoid the grog until Friday. And work longer days, like, afternoons as well as mornings? That way I might get the bulk of the revision work done this week. That would be nice...

And yes, I'm aware that this is deeply boring. Bear with me. It's only for three weeks more.

06 July, 2007


...and a gal's thoughts turn to liquor. Oh, happy day.

Well, I did a little mapping last night, but I didn't follow it up today. Instead, I went back and filled the holes in the Branza chapter—except the fourth hole, which is still gaping a little bit, but not as widely as it was. And yes, this turned out to be a valuable thing to do to tell me the things I'll be working towards in the next revision.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go and drink a G&T. Cheers to all.

05 July, 2007

Spot of colour

A bus in Kochi, from January:

No more than a note or two...

...was written today. It was all tech. writing, supermarket shopping, banking, emailing, chatting... It's school and TAFE holidays, so both boyz are home. No exercise and bugger all writing. But because of my new abstemious-weeknights habit, I may get something done this evening, you never know.

A few bloggers around the place are grumping about other bloggers putting snippets of their writing up on their blogs, but I'm a keen snippet reader. Often a snippet is a better clue to where a blogger/writer's head is than, say, a paragraph like the previous one. And sometimes, when it comes to blogging and you've just been off in that other world the past few hours, the most recent few images really are the best record of your existence that day. I don't care if they ever get published. So please, snippet on, people.

04 July, 2007

Oh, yes

Daily blogging, that's right. I spent the morning revising the Branza chapter, the afternoon reading it out to Lee and listening to her new chapter, the evening putting in the corrections I made this morning and being glad I can move on to another chapter for a bit; this one still has holes in it, but I've been chewing on it for three days and need a breather.

The tech. writing has reared its head again, so tomorrow morning will be partly dedicated to that. But I hope to at least map out what else needs to happen in the last chapter—well, that and the epilogue.

Steven has bought and installed me some RAM, and Scrivener is now working like a dream.

03 July, 2007

My July

Okay, this is the setup for July:
  1. Tender Morsels is due at Allen & Unwin at the end of July.

  2. I meet Lee to read aloud a chapter (possibly most of chapter 11, which I've been working on the last few days) tomorrow at two.

  3. I meet the full draft-buster workshop on the weekend of 14–15 July.

  4. I have the merest whisker of tech. writing to complete, this week or next.

  5. I have to (start and) finish a short story in July, and (rewrite) a different short story in August.

  6. I'm attending a week-long workshop 30 July–3 August, so 'the end of July' effectively means getting the ms. into the email box by start of business 30 July.
I think all this should be okay if I'm very, very careful. Being careful means no drinking on weeknights; going for regular bike rides; doing stretches every second day; turning up at the writing desk every morning and Just Doing It.

Right now I'm finishing the revision I started in April–May, which is a combination surface edit and notes-for-later. It's kind of merged with the next revision, which will be all about getting the balance of the characters' story-threads right - i.e. the mother's at the centre, the daughters' taking over at the end - and all the different voices consistent.

I'm going to blog daily on my progress just to reassure myself that I'm moving.

*reaches virtuously for glass of water*

*goes to bed for 8 hours' sleep*

01 July, 2007

Nice to see

That Red Spikes advance reading copies were in evidence at the American Library Association conference last weekend. (Thanks, Gavin.)

And that one of my converts is spreading the word.
Due to the focus of my job I now read far less of the “adult” literary fiction that I used to read almost exclusively. I am now reading more and more junior and teen books. This started because my job required me to know more about this area of literature. The thing is, I’m absolutely loving it. There’s some fantastic stuff out there. You should give it a look sometime, even if you’re a grown up.

I am bookboy, hear me read.