Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wicked the Musical

Seeing Wicked was a huge priority of my Melbourne trip so Jen and I went to the show the first night that I was in Melbourne.

Generally, I am not a musical fan (well except Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors). I usually find the story is only stringed together, an excuse to carry together a bunch of songs.

Wicked is different. Firstly, it's based on the book by Gregory Maguire so it has a substantial story, exploring themes of nature vs nurture, good vs. bad, popular vs freak.

Melbourne, priding itself on being a cultural city, has thoroughly embraced the musical. When we had walked down the wrong end of Collins St, and stopped to ask a policeman where the Regent Theatre was, he could have told us to follow the yellow brick road. (I'm surprised there wasn't one!). But he told us to head back in the direction we'd come, and look for the green lights. It seems that Melbourne has turned Emerald. I didn't manage to get a photo of the Wicked tram but I did spot it (along with the Kylie tram).

We left the theatre absolutely thrilled with the production - it was so spectacular especially the flying monkeys which, to my disappointment, are not featured in the program. Both Lucy Durack and Amanda Harrison (playing Galinda and Elphaba) had fabulous voices and carried the emotional heart of the show, and the storyline of Dorothy's intrusion into Oz worked its way into the story well. I loved the twist at the end, though I suspect that the twist is not part of the original novel. (It's going to the top of my to be read pile).

I took my chances in the Wicked lottery on the Saturday night. Line up 2 & 1/2 hours before the show for your name to go in the little green barrel. As I reached the top of the queue to enter, another woman by herself was writing her name on the slip so we agreed to both tick that we wanted 2 tix so if either of our names were drawn we would get in. Over 100 people turned up to take their chances and as each name was drawn, there were cheers of excitement from the lucky few. Finally, the guy said he only had one single ticket left, and he would keep drawing until someone wanted it. Guess what? The lady I'd made the pact with was drawn out - guess I just wasn't lucky enough!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Looking for vampires

As you know, I've been fairy obsessed with the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer over the last few weeks. I've now read the whole series and have read the first book Twilight twice. And I'm sure it's not going to end there.

Before I left for Melbourne, I packed my bat wings,
and I figured if I was going to find Edward Cullen anywhere, it would be Melbourne - often overcast and raining, full of dark brooding figures in black.
And all that Gothic architecture.
If he needed a holiday anywhere away from Forks but offering the same type of weather patterns, then Melbourne would be perfect. Not much chance of sparkling in the sunshine there.

It seems I wasn't the only one looking:

When I spotted these signs on the drive to the hotel on the first day, I knew I must be onto something. With such first class facilities available, Edward wouldn't even need to hunt. He'd just make a withdrawal. So on my last day to Melbourne, I went back there. But alas, it looks like Edward was still in Forks. Might have something to do with the fact that the sun was actually shining that morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Byron Bay Writers Festival Day 2

Day 2 and we were relieved to wake up to blue sky and sunshine.

I began the day by dropping into the Kids Tent and watched Danny Katz and Mitch Vane in action. Danny read from their new book 'The Little Lunch Games' while Mitch illustrated the story on butcher paper. Kids in the audience were then invited to draw their own characters.

Next I noticed the line-up for a fix, as the caffeine addicts stood patiently waiting to get their morning hit. (I'm a reformed caffeine addict although my poison was Coca-Cola)

I attended a session called First Writes: the Path to Publication. In this session Annette Hughes said 'the hardest thing about memoir is there's no end, you're not dead yet' which is how I felt when I was writing the pizza delivery girl tales - trying to work out where it should end! (these publicaion sessions always get me in because I'm still on that first path).

Afterwards I talked to Lollie Barr, who wrote the young adult novel The Mag Hags. and whose by-line I see every week in the paper.

And I couldn't resist asking Aussie Idol Damien Leith for a photo opportunity as I'm a sucker for an Irish accent.

Morris Gleitzman always draws a crowd and the queue in the background of this photo are his young fans eager for an autograph. Perhaps you don't have to be an Aussie Idol after all?

Next session I attended was 'Talking the Talk: Getting the dialogue right' with Max Barry, Virginia Duigan, Michael Gow and Judy Nunn. Max said 'You are writing a story that is taking place in the mind of the readers' summing up that we need to give our readers space to bring their own experiences to the story.

I bought Max's book Company following the session and told him I was nominated him for Foxy Author of the Week on my friend Natalie's blog. So - of course, had to get a photo with Foxy Max!

Next, I dropped by the kids tents again to see the talented and very young William Kostakis exercising excellent crowd control on the youngsters.

It seems that William has been writing about the same character (Courtney) since 6th grade. That's a long long obsession. You can read the results in his young adult novel Loathing Lola.

The next session was We'll Always Have Paris: celebrity versus literary publishing with the heads of Penguin Australia, Pan MacMillan along with the editor of Wet Ink magazine. I introduced myself to Phillip Edmunds as my story Beyond Happily Ever After will be published in Wet Ink next month.

Back at the cabin after a long and full day, we debated a mystery. How did our cabin key end up on our doormat? Well, it seems that the bush turkey was the culprit.

Saturday night dinner options were difficult and after much searching we ended up with two tables at opposite ends of the balcony at Hogs Breath Cafe. After a group near one vacated, we managed to make it one large table and ended up having an interesting conversation about men. But mostly we were exhausted...ready to retire and prepare for another exciting day at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've been tagged!

Copy the list below.

Mark in bold the movie titles for which you read the book.
Italicize the ones that you’ve watched.

Tag 5 people to perpetuate the meme. (You may of course play along anyway.)

1. Jurassic Park
2. War of the Worlds
3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
4. I, Robot
5. Contact
6. Congo
7. Cocoon
8. The Stepford Wives9
9. The Time Machine
10. Starship Troopers
11. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
12. K-PAX
13. 2010
14. The Running Man
15. Sphere
16. The Mothman Prophecies
17. Dreamcatcher
18. Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
19. Dune
20. The Island of Dr. Moreau
21. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
22. The Iron Giant(The Iron Man)
23. Battlefield Earth
24. The Incredible Shrinking Woman
25. Fire in the Sky
26. Altered States
27. Timeline
28. The Postman
29. Freejack(Immortality, Inc.)
30. Solaris
31. Memoirs of an Invisible Man
32. The Thing(Who Goes There?)
33. The Thirteenth Floor
34. Lifeforce(Space Vampires)
35. Deadly Friend
36. The Puppet Masters
37. 1984
38. A Scanner Darkly
39. Creator
40. Monkey Shines
41. Solo(Weapon)
42. The Handmaid’s Tale
43. Communion
44. Carnosaur
45. From Beyond
46. Nightflyers
47. Watchers
48. Body Snatchers

Well obviously I'm not a huge science fiction fan... (were all of these books?)

so I'm tagging the following people -

Simmone Howell
Stephanie Kuehnert
Rhian Cahill
and foxy Max Barry

3 more sleeps until Melbourne

Only 3 more sleeps until Melbourne and as I actually start the first leg of the trip tomorrow morning, I've spent the day packing.

So what will I need to go to the Romance Writers Conference?

Firstly, it's Melbourne so I need my scarf and some hats. (Remember the hat thing is part of my new image)

I'm attending Margie Lawson's 'Empowering Character Emotions' workshop on the Friday and we've been instructed to bring highlighters, red pen and 3 - 5 chapters of our work in progress. I imagine the pages are going to end up very colourful! I've also got my flash drive (don't leave home without it) and some rescue remedy to take before my pitch to an editor plus the notebook. No point taking my laptop (at least not to the conference) because the battery dies very quickly now.

And then there's the One Enchanted Century cocktail party on Friday night. I've put together a vampire costume - bat wings, black lace top, black velvet pants, and I needed something to set it off. This necklace was made by a work colleague, Jill, and I purchased it yesterday at a jewellery party that she held. Perfect!

And of course the bat wings:

Once a girl has bat wings, what else could she possibly need?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Byron Bay Writers Festival pt 1

We set off on our annual pilgrimage to Byron Bay Writers Festival on Thursday at noon. I didn't envy Roby's task of driving through the relentless rain, but we stayed optimistic that the weather would be on our side and the sky would clear.

It was not to be...

We burrowed in the cabin for the rest of the afternoon, and as soon as we stepped out of the car in the main drag of Byron, the rain poured down once more. So we stepped into the nearest eatery Fresh and were pleased with our dining experience.

Jen and I tackled the collage poetry on our first evening back in the cabin, and we all tried to chase the rain away with the power of our minds.

Not powerful enough...

The next morning after we'd showered and breakfasted and filled ourselves with caffeine, Lyn turned up on the doorstep as we were about to leave the cabin and walk over to the Festival site and told us that the Festival had been cancelled. We reacted with despair and gloom. How dare the gods be so unkind!

Roby and Caz drove over to the site to assess the damage and check out the water-logging, while Jen and I stayed in the cabin to wallow in collage.

When the troops returned, we debated what we were going to do to fill in the day. We rejected the possibility of getting cabin fever while surrouned by pouring rain, and opted for a quick lunch, followed by op-shopping and a trip to the cinema to see Mama Mia.

In town, we almost walked past Vinnies before we realised that it was Vinnies. As Jen had infected me with the collage bug again, I was itching to get my hands on more magazines and more glossy raw words to recycle and transform. The magazine shelf held the usual suspects - the Who Weeklys, the New Weeklys: all the glossy gossip garbage. New Scientist attracts my eye but there is no decent size text, and I finally settle on a couple of New Women magazines and a 'Real Living' magazine.

I scanned the bookshelf - I cannot resist checking out second hand books. The typical tired and wretched paberbacks toppled over each other but nestled amongst them was a copy of Gregory Maguire's 'Mirror Mirror' (the retelling of Snow White). Score! I grabbed it - it's meant to be mine.

The second op shop is too tiny to have a book section but I buy a purple scarf to keep my neck warm for the rest of the weekend.

It seems that many of the misplaced festival attendees have decided to spend the rainy afternoon at Mama Mia -- the foyer is filled with patrons waiting for the cinema to open. This is my second time seeing the musical after seeing it on Cheap Tuesday in Coffs Harbour with a group of work colleagues. The second time is different - perhaps they're more reverential in Byron Bay. The Coffs audience was in hysterics every time James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) opened his mouth to sing but Byron Bay accepts his singing without a titter.

We decide to eat at the Curry House that evening, and are given the room upstairs, all to ourselves except the couple who are stuck in the room next door (it seems more like a store room than an eating area). Thrilled by the tiny enclave to ourselves we dance and talk and chat and feast.

And hope that the rain will go away....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Missing in Action

I admit I've been missing in action and still haven't done my updates about the Byron Bay Writers Festival. So you might wonder what has been keeping me from blogging?

Firstly, there's that little thing called work which takes up a huge chunk of my life.

Secondly, after reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer just prior to my trip to Byron Bay, I have been totally absored in the Twilight universe and have fallen hopelessly in love with Edward Cullen. I've now read all four books but I think the third book, Eclipse would have to be my favourite. I had Twilight on loan from my library but now I have purchased all of the books (and read them all), I will probably dip in soon for a second round, while I wait for the movie. I love the emotional intensity of the story, although book 4 grossed me out a bit in some parts, and I do have to question: is sex really better once you're a vampire? Guess I'll never find out.

Thirdly, I've booked a pitch at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2 weeks time, so I've been preparing for that. Initially I was going to pitch Diary of the Future but I've changed my mind and decided to pitch Making the Cut (I need a better title) - my story about the film festival in Bilby Creek. Subsequently, I've been spending a lot of time with my head and heart in Bilby Creek, reacquainting myself with my heroine Chloe Watkins, my gorgeous hero Luke Radcliffe, and the bitchy and sexy little antagonist Kirsty McInnes. I'm adding more scenes in Luke's POV to balance it out a bit, and I will probably have to add some more scenes in Elizabeth's POV. (Elizabeth is the Queen Bee of the town, head of every committee, who has hired Choloe for the position of film festival director).

Then there's the anthology we're compiling for the Nambucca Valley Writers Group. I've been collaging title pages for each section, and I also need to collage a title page for the anthology (not the cover - just a title page). I've completed the page for the Poetry Section and I really like it so I will be using a similar struture for the rest. (maybe you'll get a sneak peek later)

Plus I've been uploading all of Jennifer Gordon's new designs to the Cafepress shop. Have only got as far as image uploads so far (with more to come) but I will announce once we have a swag on new designs on products.

So, it's busy, busy, busy - but I love being in the space of when I'm busy in a creative way. There is no other feeling like it.