Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dorkus helps with the editing - NOT!

Dorkus decided he wanted to help me edit. Which is all well and good, but it makes my task a little harder, trying to read around him.

Well, it seems that everyone's a critic. I left the pages out for him and he slept on them. Next morning, he'd given his considered opinion by throwing up all over the manuscript.

Beautiful! Thank you very much. Lucky I wasn't the one to discover it, and my partner cleaned up the mess. Hehe!

But this version of the manuscript was chucked out after being chucked up on. Thankfully, I had finished transferring all the corrections to date to the computer file, and printed a new and clean edit copy which is safely encased in plastic.

Yesterday I finished my Cinderella short story and mailed it today for the short story competition. Because I was working so close to the deadline, there was no time for an edit after my beta reader checked it out today, but she thought it was very funny and politically uncorrect. So the premise is...what happens when the Prince and Cinderella are having trouble conceiving the heir to the throne? And I take potshots at tabloids and paparazzi, and modern royalty and celebrity.It was challenging to write a story with a beginning, middle and end in under 2000 words after writing 50k, 80k, 100k - you get the idea! In 2000 words, I'm just getting warmed up.

I also reserved a place in the blogosphere for Nambucca Valley Writers' Group, who are my favourite bunch of people. I have been posting the 2006 Year in Review for the group. You can check it out here.

Because it was relatively quiet at work today, I started working on the One-Pass Manuscript Revision on Making the Cut. And yes, I have worked through all the steps of Part One, including condensing the novel into 25 words. I'm still working on the 250 words - that will need a few more revisions.

Another work day (hopefully reasonably quiet again) and then another three day weekend. I just wish every weekend would last three days!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Christmas Round-up

First thing - open the pressies! Dorkus scores a new water bowl, a catnip mouse and numerous toys.
I score a Virgin mobile phone and MP3 player and cooler with speakers, a cardigan, a colourful scarf, and DVD's including The Young Ones, Six Feet Under Season 1, Sommersby, and Northern Exposure Season 2.
Robbie scores The Dukes of Hazzard season 1, Reservoir Dogs, Black Dog, and others I can't remember now, diabetes cookbooks, an Austin Powers talking cooler, plus combined presents of framed pics for the wall.

Lunch is roast chicken, veggies and ham, and the weather is kind to us, not too hot despite the temperature of the kitchen.

Dinner is slices of turkey, ham and salad followed by Christmas pudding and ice cream.

A very relaxing Christmas day!

It's an exhausting job being Santa!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All I want for Christmas is a hot shower.

Two days without now...after the hot water system went kaput. At first we thought it was just a fuse, and that was replaced but looks like the bang we heard the other night came from inside the house, not outside, and now the system is being replaced. Hopefully, it will be flowing again tonight.
There's an article about messy desks in the New York Times: Saying Yes to Mess. So at the moment, my desk has a container of pens, my diary, a book on using photoshop, a Target catalogue which I was flicking through this morning, my laptop, and my cat. The desk is lot clearer since Dorkus has decided that this is his bed. I don't mind sharing with the cat, it makes me keep enough room on here for him and I like the company.
My partner is a Virgo, so he hates mess! But it doesn't stop him from being messy. His idea of cleaning up is dumping everything into a box, off the surfaces, out of sight, but still not sorted! And I'm a Sagittarius so what possible hope have we got?
I don't consider myself to be very organised at all, yet I managed to collate the collage poetry diary with no trouble, and I'm secretary of the writers group. But I admit, I do waste a lot of time searching for stuff. I think it's easy to be organised for the stuff that's important i.e. my writing, the collage...and I've learned that if I don't put the special words and phrases away safely for the collage, they are likely to disappear, courtesy of my partner, who thinks he's doing me a favour by cleaning up. Jen has the same problem with her mother not understanding the creative process at all and tipping half collated collage poems into a box.

I bought a colourful set of cardboard drawers the other day. Very bright and attractive and big enough to hold a lot of words for my collage poetry creations. So now I have a drawer for black words, another for small colour words, another for big fonts, and another for pics. It still won't help the creative mess when I'm in the middle of composing a collage poem and it needs time to gather the ideas and the words.

I'm over half way through Making the Cut, and adding in the edits I've done so far before I can print out my working copy for a proper edit. Wow - that took all day! But I feel that I'm making progress.
Haven't looked at it again yet today - instead I've been playing around in Photoshop to make this Christmas greeting so I don't have to feel slack about not sending paper cards:

And I've been spending the last week or so reading the crapometer on Miss Snark's blog. Very interesting, and I know from this, I don't think I could be an agent.
Only two more sleeps to Christmas, and I'm looking forward to unwrapping the stuff under the tree. More clutter to add to the pile. How do you weigh in on the clutter debate?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Holidays

Oh yes! The first day of my six-day Christmas break. How nice to sleep in, to wander leisurely around the shops, battered by holiday makers and the seasonal invasion of tourists. But six days, and several of those where I do not need to drive anywhere! That's what I call a holiday.

There are still a few copies of the Ransom Notes Collage Poetry Diary available so I have put up a couple of Ebay auctions to sell them.

The first cover is a green design and the second is a black design. Only 130 of these were printed so they are definitely limited edition. The diaries are a week to an opening, and feature quotations from famous writers, flash fiction, haiku, ransom notes and 12 full colour collage poems.

Here are a couple of my poems featured in the diary:

I want to take advantage of lulu's offer for Nano winners and print a copy of Diary of the Future but I have to edit it and upload it by January 16 to be eligible. Along with editing Making the Cut, I'm piling a lot onto my plate. Still I'm determined. I just need match the determination with focus. I'm going to try Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision Method. I've bought a new ink cartridge and a ream of paper, so I will enter the corrections I've already made, and then print out a new, clean copy to do the One Pass Revision. (We won't count the previous passes at this point.)

The short story is coming along. It's about Cinderella and Snow White, and what happened after 'the happily ever after' because it really it isn't happy especially when you consider the pressure on modern day's princesses - life is not a fairy tale. The deadline for the short story competition is 31st December so the plan is to finish tomorrow and then edit on the weekend, before posting it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Writing Deadlines

Yesterday our writers' group had a monologue workshop, as preparation for our next big project. We watched and listened to some of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues, and then lunched at the local RSL and then had a drink at the Sports Club to soak up the ambience for our project.
This means that my writing/editing timetable has now expanded:
1. Write short story for competition. Deadline 31 Dec
2. Write essay for competition. Deadline 27 Jan.
3. Edit Making the Cut and write cover letter, synospis. Submit by end of Feb.
4. Write monologue by end of March.
5. Finish first draft of 'I'm with the Band' by 31st May
6. Edit Diary of the Future by 31st July.
I like the famous Douglas Adams quote about deadlines whooshing by, but I will not be subscribing to it at this point. I am committed (or maybe I should be committed!)
And at the same time as all of this writing and editing, keep working the day job and updating the Chickollage shop with new designs.

Jen and I both have bestsellers at this point:

This is Jen's Smile design.

And my Erotica Writer design:

And Jen has given me a few more designs to upload over the next week.

We had our work Christmas lunch at the Botanic Gardens and it was very relaxing. I must get down there more often and walk around, spend some time with nature because I spend way too much time sitting in front of one screen or another: at home on the computer, watching TV, or at work on the computer.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

How's the Christmas shopping?

Ok so the Christmas shopping is done, just one or two more presents to buy, and then food to buy. No relatives for Christmas this year - we're just going to stay at home and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of our lovely home.

Last night I watched the final four episodes of Six Feet Under. Very impressive, great writing, and the way it was wrapped up was very fitting. I discovered the first season DVD set on special on Thursday night so I bought it and it is now wrapped up under the Christmas tree from Dorkus the cat, much to his disgust.

He wasn't impressed with his new Santa hat and scarf either.

This morning I woke to no electricity. So I couldn't jump onto the net and check my email as I normally do. When I went shopping on Thursday night, I had no idea what to buy my brother for Christmas and came home with nothing for him. So this was playing on my mind, and I was considering venturing into town again to find something. Instead, I started sorting out through some boxes in my study, and found the perfect book for him that I had bought several months ago, and forgotten. Duh! So, he's now set. And I also went to the local occasional market and bought a bag of tomatos - everything else was just junk. No inspiration there. When I arrived home, electricity was restored and was swiftly followed with a courtesy call from the power company to ensure everything was okay.

So while I have almost completed my Christmas shopping, I'm wondering if everyone else has.

I have uploaded a heap of Jennifer's new designs to the Chickollage store.

Here is just a small sample available on t-shirts, journals etc. Face it, Jen has the bug:

And here is the Queen of Collage Poetry herself, Ms Jennifer Gordon, launching the Nambucca Valley Writers Group 2007 Collage Poetry Diary.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Party Animals

Last night I went to my work end of year party. You know the old cliches - when the workers get flirtatious and drunk, and say inappropriate things to their superiors. Didn't see any of that. The function was held at the Pet Porpoise Pool, so I spent the evening surrounded by animals, and not just the party animals from my workplace. I played catch with a dolphin, and was kissed by a seal. A unique experience and not one I would usually expect at an end of year gig.

In my post Nano life, I have been spoiling myself with rewards for reaching my Nano goal. This included buying the Countdown Spectacular DVD (watched half of one DVD so far) and having a Six Feet Under marathon (I watched 8 episodes in 2 days). And I enjoyed reading a new young adult novel, Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell. But now its back to the editing of Making the Cut.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jacaranda Films blogspot

My partner has got himself a blog, so the times that I can't access the net, its because he's updating Jacarands Films at half the speed that I would work.

Hopefully, I have now taught him enough about blogspot that I don't have to answer questions every fifteen minutes.

Check out Jacaranda Films!

You'll make him happy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nano Day 29 and I'm a winner

So here it is, the winner icon. 50,088 words in 29 days. I must be getting better at this because I finished with a day to spare. And not only did I produce the required words, I wrapped up the story arc of Diary of the Future, so I don't need to add any story. The first draft is complete! Woohoo!

Word wars certainly helped me focus on the word count (thanks Di), and I plotted out bits of story while driving to work. And by attempting to write every day, I managed to keep the story in my subconscious at all times.

But today was agonising, knowing that I was so close to the finish line (46607 as of last night), all I wanted to do today was finish the story. Not work. I wrote over 1400 words during teabreaks, lunchtime, and while waiting for my lift home. Came home and typed up the long-hand and then started word wars to finish, and it actually came out slow. Perhaps I didn't want to let go of the story after all. But I had to drive the story forward to the final three lines, which I wrote yesterday.

I stare at the flames as the diary burns, the leather cracking under the intense heat. The future was an unknown quantity. And that’s the way I like it.

And now playing on my computer is the song Winners by Moving Pictures.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nano Day 26 & new Chickollage products

I went to my writers group meeting yesterday, and Jennifer has been very busy with the collage, handing me nine more designs for the Chickollage shop.

So here is one that I have uploaded today: Jen gave it to me in blue, and I had a play in photoshop and also created a pink edition.

But I think the design looks so cute on the teddy bear's shirt. More of Jen's designs will be available through the week. And at the rate Jen is working, her designs will outnumber mine very quickly.

So Nanowrimo is going well, and I'm on track to finishing, with 40,200 words committed to my computer's memory (and backed up on the flash drive).

Now I just need to steer the story to a logical (but not predictable) conclusion and make sure it doesn't go off on any wild tangents. But also ensure that it doesn't conclude before the 50,000 words are up, or I'll be forced to go back and add a heap of dialogue tags.

I'd considered putting a teenage pregnancy into the story but have rejected this as too much of a cliche, so that's one issue that doesn't need to be dealt with. However, there is still teenage heartbreak and the last words I have written this evening are 'Oh Nickie, what the hell have we done?' - a definite marker for the end of Act Two.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Focusing on the future

Yesterday it was my birthday. Despite this, I did not take the day off from the Nano challenge, and I wrote another 2600 words.

As of last night, I had cruised past the 35,000 word target -- well on my way to achieving the Nanowrimog goal, and even better, FINISHING THE STORY within the time frame.

I feel truly alive when I'm writing, when the characters are speaking to me and acting of their own accord, events happen that I did not imagine, and my subconscious works overtime. This is the part that I love. I have deliberately tackled Nano very fast this year. No dithering in front of the computer, wondering what I'm going to write.

I set the Wizard for thirty minutes and write as fast as I can. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. But my personal best for thirty minutes is over 1200 words.

This love of creativity has become a common theme in each of my stories.

In Kissing Toads, Jessica is a photographer but in many ways, it has become just a job. She documents her search for Mr Right with her camera, and holds an exhibition of the subsequent photos. The journey and her creativity become more important than finding a man.

In Making the Cut, Chloe realises that Luke is the love of her life just as rumours start circulating that he is leaving the country town. She makes a documentary featuring the students and parents of Bilby Creek to convince him to stay.

In I'm with the Band, Kat is on a personal journey of self-discovery which includes singing on stage with her rock idols, writing a song and recording it.

And in my lastest Nanowrimo outpouring of creativity, Diary of the Future, Nickie not only exercises her creative talents by writing diary entries in advance and watching the events unfold, she also discovers a talent for painting. And she and her boyfriend Craig (another art student) have nicknamed each other Salvadore (as in Dali) and Frida (as in Kahlo)

So, I'm an advocate of creativity in whatever form turns on the muse and brings her out to play. I encourage everyone to discover their creative talent. Write, draw, knit, scrapbook, cook -- experiment and discover your muse.

After passing yesterday's milestone, I have upped the ante on my Things to Do Before I Die list. My goal is to have a publishing contract in my hand by the time I'm 40. 364 days to achieve this goal.

So with a goal comes a plan:
NOVEMBER: Finish first draft of Diary of the Future. Win Nano!!
DEC/JAN: Edit Making the Cut
FEB: Submit Making the Cut, Finish I'm with the Band
MAR/APR: Edit I'm with the Band
MAY/JUNE: Edit Diary of the Future
AUG: Chill out and find more writing mojo at Byron Bay Writers Festival

There's no 'new' writing in the plan. (although I'm sure it will happen in the rewrites). It's time to focus on the editing and rewriting and knocking the manuscripts into shape, because there has been one element missing in the process in the past. SUBMIT. And that, will be the keyword to propel me towards the goal.

Besides, there is always the momentum of Nanowrimo next November to spin out another first draft.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nano Day 22 - Ebay Loot - Calendar Sale

Nano Day 22

I squeezed past the 30,000 word mark last night, and with just nine days to go (including today), I should make it to the finish line as long as I continue placing my butt in the seat, and the fingers on the keyboard.

Last night's writing had some surprising, unplanned elements, but they ended up being very pleasing in the overall story of the book, and the continued motif of how much of her life Nickie chooses to write in advance.
Today was a bonus. With the computer system down at work, I managed to write over 1000 bonus words, so I am way ahead for today's tally. A couple more word wars and I shall be done, and I should just about be reaching the second turning point of the story.

Ebay Loot

I've been scoring a few things of Ebay - this Moving Pictures sticker, a groovy looking radio promotional sticker from the band's heyday.

and this CD single by Alex Smith.

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about this single (remembered something about a photograph). I had the single on cassette at one time, and having moved seven times or so since, was wondering if it was still in my possession. I could not remember the song or the music. So that morning, I logged onto my email and discovered the Ebay lot waiting in my email searches. Like it was meant to be. It was fate. Think and the universe shall provide.

Chickollage Calendars
Cafepress is having a 20% sale off calendars at the moment, so now is a great time to grab a Chickollage Collage Poetry Calendar, and have a collage poem a month for every year in 2007.
Visit the Chickollage shop for unique Christmas gifts. It's hard to believe, it's just over a month away!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nano Day 16

It's 11.20 pm and I'm barely awake after several word war challenges. Woohoo, I've past the 20K mark, so while I'm still behind on the word count, I have gained over 5500 w0rd in the last two days.

I've reached another incident in the story, where Nickie is about to write in her diary in anger,with devestating consequences. Consequences that will make her realise that the diary can be a destructive tool if used in the wrong way, and with the wrong emotion projected.

I haven't been consistent. I haven't written every day. There have been some days that I've been too tired after work, and I've only been brainstorming the story at work. No actual writing. But I'm really pleased with the amount of words that I've managed to write during my half-hour challenges with the wizard. It has shown me that I can write fast.

There will need to be a lot of editing. But that's okay. That will be later. It's the story that I want to discover now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

In Memorium - my mum Judith 30.04.49 - 12.11.97

Today it is nine years since Mum passed away. I have already written a tribute during Pink for October here. But I thought I would add a few more thoughts about my mum today.

Mum learned to drive when I was 13. Her first car was a beat-up old Audi with no guts, and until recently, I did not realise that an Audi was a prestige motor vehicle. She wasn't game enough to drive across Gladesville Bridge because the car had no power. Her next car was a VW and she used to kangaroo hop down the street in it (on purpose) and wind down the road. She rarely looked up how to get anywhere - I think she enjoyed losing her way. And she'd turn left when I told her to turn right. But getting her licence was the best thing she could've done because it opened up a whole new world for her.

It started when I was about 6. Mum had a couple of mice. And the mice multiplied and multiplied. So when she was pregnant with my sister, the mice were farmed off and she started collecting ornamental mice instead. It was always so easy to buy her a present, and there are still times when I go into a gift shop, see a gorgeous mouse ornament, and think mum would love that. Here is part of her collection - the ornaments I gave her over the years, now back on display in my living room.

Mum was a marvellous cake decorator and president of her local cake decorating guild. She always had one or two cakes on the go, but one of the favourites that she made for me was this dragon cake. When I turned 27, I decided to have a 7 year old birthday party, and we all played kids games and ate chocolate crackles. It was a lot of fun for both the pretend kids and the real kids and mum made me a dragon cake for the occasion.

Mum painted this picture for me when I was about fifteen from a photo that a friend had taken. The painting has hung in my bedroom in many different dwellings since then, and now has pride of place in the lounge room.

Our house was a menagerie when I was growing up. Dogs, cats, birds (including Chook the cockatoo), chooks, fish, even a baby lamb at one time. Whenever there was a stray, it would land on our doorstep and find a home. It's not a tradition I've carried on. I'm happy with my singular cat Dorkus, and he is also happy with the status quo.

Mum was always fun and lightened up any room she walked into. She didn't judge people and took everyone on face value. All the neighbourhood kids wanted to hang around for her friendship, her cooking and her love. It was a sad day nine years ago when the light was turned off, far to early, for the bright light that was my mum.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nano Day 8

I've just realised its Week Two of Nanowrimo. Time to read Week Two of No Plot, No Problem and get my head into the headspace.

I managed to type a Nanoism tonight:

'I wipe the smile off my face. I can’t get too cocky. But somehow I think Dad will be putting his head in his pocket more often.'

I'm sure I meant to type hand in his pocket, but now I've got this interesting image of 'Dad' walking around with his head stuck down his pocket, much like an ostrich with his head in the sand.
I had a couple of Word War challenges with Di from Canberra. Didn't beat my personal best from last night. But with three challenges, I managed to increase my novel by another 2620 words, which I think is pretty good for a weekday. However my total word tally to be on track now should be 13,336 words so I'm still trailing at 10,560 words.

My Nanowrimo Report card says that if I keep up today's pace, I will finish on November 23rd. It also says that if I keep up Monday's pace (zero words), I will NEVER finish, and that's in a big beautiful red block just to rub it in.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day....and right now I need sleep.

Writers Mantra Journal available at The Chickollage Shop

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nano Day 7

Whoops! I've fallen behind on the word count. Sometimes the day job can do that to you. I think I became a bit complacent when I realised how much I could write in half an hour if I just put my mind to it. And decided I had all the time in the world.

As I'm writing this, I've got a song blaring 'Shout' by Moving Pictures, to celebrate the last half hour of writing. I downloaded a Talking Alarm Clock and it uses the wizard from Microsoft Office. I set the timer for five minutes away and he appears and tells me to start writing. After 30 minutes, he appears again, this time with a song to celebrate. My personal best for half an hour of writing is now 1132 words.

I have now written the first turning point: the point where Nickie discovers that her diary can control the future.

The scene begins with a 'Groundhog Day' type rerun of the embarrassing conversation about flatulence with Craig. Nickie is aware that the scene is replaying but no matter what she tries to do, she cannot help but repeat her own words and actions.

This is how the scene ends:

I leaf through the pages hurriedly, finding my way back to January 5, the date of the first conversation. The page is blank. As if nothing ever happened that day. Yet all of the other pages are filled with prose and angst and the invocation of Craig. But January 5 is a blank page still waiting to be filled. I know that I first bumped into Craig last Tuesday.

I know that this blank page is a lie, and I remember writing the entry. But what if I accidently wrote the entry on the following week, and then the event repeated itself because that's what was written in my diary.

I drop my pen. No, not humanly, not physically possible. Surely me, Nickie Symons, could not have created the future just by writing it.

But there was only one way to find out...

And I start writing an entry for Wednesday January 13.

I wouldn't have long to wait to test my theory. 24 hours and I would know if my journal was the diary of the future or if I was just going mad.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nano Day 4

Nano Day 4 is not yet over for me (8.15 pm as I start this post) but I thought I would post early, then I wouldn't be trying to post at midnight.

So far today, I have written 1902 words which included two half hour sprints - 1. 924 words and 2. 958 words. The first was in an online writing challenge. Several Nanoers from Oz met up on MSN, chatted a bit and then had a 30 minute word war. So I decided to do the same again tonight, and I think I will continue doing sprints when I'm at the computer from now on, plus take advantage of the word pockets at work.

I would still like to achieve another 1400 words tonight to get me back up to speed. So I will do two more word sprints before I go to sleep.

In the meantime, I've been adding some more products to the Chickollage shop in the section 'For the Writer'

Firstly we have Jennifer Gordon's design: Serious Stuff Writing, available on a journal, mousepad and numerous apparel: let the world know you take your writing seriously.

Every writer needs to do some research. Whether, it's rehashing a lived life or studying historical facts, you can only write what you know.

So what's an erotica writer to do when the pickings are slim, the days are chaste and there's no prospects on the horizon?

It's time to advertise for an assistant! This and other designs (similar phrases, different fonts) available now on numerous items here.

When I was writing Kissing Toads, I mentioned my work in progress to one of my father's mates who is probably only a few years older than me. He asked if there were any sex scenes. When I said yes, he asked (in front of my partner) if I needed any help researching them. Yuck! I certainly did not take him up on his offer, but that little comment has inspired these items. Enjoy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Nano Day Three

I'm tired. I just hit the button to create a new blog, instead of editing this one. As if I need another blog! Time for bed, I think.

It was a strange day at work today. We have fifteen people leaving to go to different parts of the organisation. Some will be working upstairs, some downstairs, another moving interstate, and my podpal is changing teams. In the six years I've been there, there has never been so much change in one day. So I did the social thing tonight and went to the pub after work to say goodbye etc. I said I was going for an hour, but 2.5 hours later I left the pub and drove home in the rain.

Then I watched Love My Way on DVD, episodes 7 & 8 from the first series. I won't go into detail because someone may be planning on watching and I don't want to give any spoilers, but it was heartbreaking...

...and left me in no mood to write.

It's a good thing I wrote during breaks at work today. So I've pushed up my total a little, not a lot. I'm still running behind on the required average word count, but as long as I write every single day, I will get there. And I'll be participating in an on-line writing challenge tomorrow morning.

And as soon as Nano is over, I have to edit. I was asked by many people this evening how the writing is going, have I sold my book yet...I need to stay on track so one day soon, I have good news to report.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Nano Day Two

The Thursday Thirteen is postponed this week, as I try to get my head into Diary of the Future.

Here is an excerpt from Nickie's diary:

OMG, OMG, you're never gonna believe what happened today. I had a real live conversation with Craig. And Sonia Scrag was nowhere in sight.

Ooh, I'm still thinking about it now, replaying it over and over and over in my head. Rewinding the video, fast forwarding, wishing I could delete stupid comments I made.

God, I hope he doesn't think I'm dumb. Or thick. I mean, I was dumbstruck when I bumped into Craig. Seeing him at the mall and actually talking to him was the last thing I expected to happen.

He is such a hottie. That blonde sweep of fringe that half covers one of his dark brown eyes. And that smile. I'm surprised that Colgate hasn't signed him up to do toothpaste commercials. Because its pretty damn special. And when he smiled at me today, it's a wonder they didn't have to call a mop to aisle ten.

Mum was right about one thing. I should've got a summer job. But in Woolies, not Target. Then I could've been hanging around Craig all summer. And got paid for it. Double bonus.

So that's where I ran into Craig. In Woolies. Mum sent me down to pick up some bread and milk. Told me to make myself useful. And I spotted him from the end of the aisle, stacking cans on shelves. So I went and walked up near him, and nonchantly picked up a can of baked beans like it was the most fascinating object in the world. I didn't want to be the first to say hello. Because it would be mortifying if he sneered at me, or didn't return my greeting. So I just pretended that I didn't see him, and acted like I had serious business with that can of baked beans.

And then he spoke. I swear my heart stopped beating, and I gasped for breath, as he said. 'Be careful, Nickie. They make you fart.'

I turned to him. 'Craig, hello, I didn't see you there.'

He smiled. I think he knew the game I was playing. Because for a start, Craig isn't thick.

'Sure, sure, Nickie. But those beans should come with a health warning sticker. Danger: causes flatulence.'

I spun the can around in my hand. 'You're right. Trouble is, my little brother has requested baked beans. And my brother's tantrums are deadlier than his farts.'

Craig chuckled. 'And how old is your brother?'


'Yep, farting is a productive hobby for a twelve year old.'

'Hobby? I reckon it's a weapon of mass destruction.'

'Don't worry. He'll grow out of it.'

'I'm not so sure of that. Danny has farting battles with my thirty year old uncle.'

'Do they take bets? Well, Nickie you'll have to invite me over to one of your family barbecues. It sounds entertaining.'

I blushed. I couldn't believe it. I have a massive crush on this guy and I've just spent five minutes talking about farts. That would be something to share with the grandkids.

I like the scene, and the whole flatulence conversation. Super embarrassing for a 16 year old. But I think it will be extremely funny when Nickie has her deja vu moment with this scene, and realises that she is reliving it again. And later this will show her the power of the diary.

The writing progress hasn't been as good as yesterday. I didn't do the usual writing during breaks at work. At morning tea, I was on the computer in the tearoom checking out the status of my ebay auctions. I was outbid on two auctions, and I put in a successful bid for another (will be posting about that when I receive the item) and then at lunch time, I was running around town, as one tends to do on payday.

So I'm not going to try and push through until midnight tonight. I really need some more sleep. I was very hyper last night when I finished writing so I didn't sleep for a while. And I can't afford to sleep in and be late for work. Anyway the weekend will soon be here with a long luxurious stretch of writing time.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nano Day One

Woohoo! I'm off to a great start! So if I can set this pace for the rest of Nano, I will be finished with time to spare!

I'm not yet sure who all my characters will be, but I'm sure they will show up as I need them.

So now it's time to sleep, and it has been a well-earned rest.

Meter courtesy of Writertopia

And I have a 'widget' in my sidebar which will automatically update my progress as I update my wordcount on the Nanowrimo site. No more fiddling around with the template.

I will try to be back tomorrow with a Thursday Thirteen - thirteen great theatre productions I have seen. And as I used to work in the theatre industry, and have seen hundreds of productions, it was extremely hard to narrow it down to thirteen.

Good luck to all the Nano'ers in the Northern Hemisphere still working through day one!

Good night!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nano is only an hour and a half away

One hour and twenty minutes to go until Nano kicks off for me but I'm not going to be able to stay up to start writing at midnight. Shame November 1st doesn't fall on a weekend, but it's a weekday and a work day and I need to be awake tomorrow so I can churn out as many words as humanly possible during my tea breaks, lunch break etc.

I have my Nano report card thanks to Cameron Matthews and I have a copy of No Plot, No Problem. And I'm ready to go. I did it last year, so I can do it this year. 1667 words a day. Easy. I've just got to keep the momentum going.

The neighbourhood monsters have been around asking for treats and I've gone through a block of chocolate keeping them happy. When I heard the firecrackers going off, I thought it would be wise to put my car in the shed, away from the little monsters.

Anyway, before I start lying and have to start counting blog posts as Nano words, I'm going to sleep!

Check in tomorrow night with a progress report.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ebay profiling

It's 8.45 in the morning, so they say. I don't believe them. I stayed up very late last night and now daylight savings has stolen an hour of my life and won't give it back until next March.

4 days until Nanowrimo begins. I've decided this year to have a go at writing young adult, as I can finish that in just over 50,000 words and not lose momentum when December rolls around and still be trying to finish a year later. And I have an idea. Finally. And a title. The title is Diary of the Future. I think I can have a lot of fun with this one, and include a lot of teenage angst.

But I've also signed up for the Revision Hell workshop, so somehow I'm going to be turning the internal editor on and off. Letting her out of the cupboard for daily outings so I can finish off Making the Cut and submit it. And submit I will. Yesterday at my writers meeting, I held a contract from the publisher I want to submit to. It was my friend's contract, but it's the first time I have seen a bona fide publishing contract, and not just a sample or a mock-up. Very exciting and very motivating.

When Roby was told that she would be published, I sent her a special congratulations card. On the front it said 'The Writer's Mantra: "I will be a published author" over and over. On the inside it said, 'It's no longer just a fantasy.' because Roby is a fantasy writer. I now have the cards on sale at the Chickollage shop at as well as a romance writer's version, which has red print, and says inside 'It's no longer just a romantic dream.' In addition, I have put 'The Writer's Mantra' on mousepads, mugs, fridge magnets - any product that might help a writer affirm their goal.
(I tried to post a pic but Blogger doesn't want to play that game)

I am bidding on some fabulous stuff on ebay at the moment. A couple of items which will be very useful to get the world of 'I'm with the Band' right. An inside look into the music industry. No more details as I want to win these items, and lately I've been competing against fanatics who have a lot more money than me. Last weekend I had a maximum bid of $25 on a magazine, and my bid was sitting at $22. In the last 8 seconds two bidders swooped and the magazine sold for $57. Way beyond my budget. I hate that. At least in a real auction room, you can see the competition, and the body language gives a clue as to how badly they want the item.

Sometimes, you can see that on ebay as well if your opposition starts bidding early in the game. I knew I was unlikely to win another music magazine when someone outbid me - I checked out their feedback and the items they'd bought, and they were a Keith Richards nut, and the magazine we were bidding on had Keith Richards on the cover. And they did win. But I didn't keep pursuing it. Because I knew they had a passion for it, and the money to spend. Man, I only wanted probably one article out of the magazine!

Another person was bidding against me early on for the magazine that went for $57. I did some quick 'ebay profiling' on her. She is a Countdown fan who buys a lot of boots and faux fur, so immediately I have a picture of a 30 something year old turning up to the Countdown spectacular in her knee-length fur coat. Maybe ebay profiling is a way to turn up some interesting characters for novel fodder.

But I did score a book on Australian rock photography, published in 1991. That will be cool, and I'm sure it will trigger a few more memories.

This week, I've got the place to myself. Friday just gone to Sunday next, as my partner has gone away. Good timing for the beginning of Nanowrimo. So hopefully by the time he comes home, my head will be so far into the alternate realities of Diary of the Future and I'm with the Band, that I won't be distracted.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

13 Concerts or Gigs

Thirteen Concerts or Gigs I loved

1. BLACK SABBATH/ROSE TATTOO Capitol Theatre, Sydney
This is the first rock concert I ever attended. My uncle took me as a 13th birthday present and I think my ears are still ringing. But the light show was amazing!


I conned my father to take me to this one because I was underage. My friend and I ran down to the front of the stage, and Alex Smith jumped off the stage, and leaped onto the table that dad was sitting at, and sang. Dad complained later that he was sweating all over his beer.

3. SON OF SUNDAY, Birkenhead Point

Dynamic Hepnotics, QED (with Jenny Morris), Uncanny X-Men, Moving Pictures.
Aah! The days of free outdoor concerts put on by radio stations as a promotion. Great weather, great friends, great music and great photos including the one I had taken with Alex Smith to the left, 22 years ago.

4. SWEETHEARTS - this rates a mention as a venue itself

Downtown Cabramatta, one of the grottiest venues around. When you finished your drink, you just dropped the perspex glass to the floor, packed from wall to wall - often I only heard the band and glimpsed them briefly over people's shoulders. But the acts were great - Jon English, Swanee, Moving Pictures, Ian Moss, Jimmy Barnes.

The night that Jimmy Barnes played, someone was stabbed. My mother was very relieved when she heard the news the next morning, and found me sleeping soundly in my own bed.

5. k d lang Sydney Opera House (Sexuality tour)

Beautiful voice for a beautiful venue. And with seats only ten rows back (it helps to know someone in box office), the show and k.d.'s performance was magic, especially 'crying'

6. EURYTHMICS Sydney Entertainment Centre Revenge Tour

I lined up for these tickets at 6am (not exactly hard-core) but I picked the ticket outlet strategically and was 7th in line. And I was rewarded. Annie Lennox has an incredible voice and a fabulous stage presence. And the arrangement of the songs in concert are always different to the albums so I feel like I get extra value for money. She ripped her top off in the encore and stood on the speakers above us in her lacy red bra.

At the time, I was having a fling with an older man and he came to the concert with me (along with my uni pals). Almost every song on the Revenge album reminds me of him.

I could easily let the Eurythmics steal another two spots off my 13, as I saw the 'We Too are One' tour twice! and then the Peace tour. Waiting for the next one!


Sometimes you go to see a band and you get a pleasant surprise when you discover a fanastic support act. This was the case when I went to see Tiddas at the Metro Theatre in 1992. Chris Wilson was performing with guitarist Shane O'Mara, and his harmonica transported me to another world. He prowled the stage like a caged tiger and he mesmerised me with his stage presence. I could not take my eyes off him. And his voice...the whole range between a seductive whisper, and a sexy growl. I could listen to Chris Wilson sing the blues, country or gospel. Doesn't matter. Hey, he could even sing me the phone book if he wanted!

8. TRANSVISION VAMP Hordern Pavillion

A fun band and sexy stage show at the Hordern Pavillion. The twelve inch version of Sex Kick was stretched out to many many more inches as Wendy James had an aural orgasm on stage. OMG! It's a shame I lost my 12 inch mix when I loaned the imported CD to my DJ partner.

9. PRINCE Sydney Entertainment Centre

Memorable but scary. Somehow we had ended up with back row seats in the Entertainment Centre and had a view of a tiny little purple thing on stage, the video screens and the whole audience. Everything that Prince said to do, the audience followed. Lucky he is not evil because he had an army of fans, willing to do his bidding.

10. THE ANGELS The Princess Theatre, Brisbane

Doc Neeson - so cool. This concert rocked.

11. JANE SIBERRY Metro Theatre

I only saw the last half of this concert because I was working box office in the venue and had to reconcile the money etc. It wasn't a straight concert because she showed her video clips as well as singing but I loved her voice and immediately went and bought the album, When I was a Boy.

12. DEBORAH CONWAY & WILLY ZYGIER Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay

The friends were getting restless, they couldn't believe that it was 10 o'clock and the main act still wasn't on. But then the duo appeared and soothed the savage beast with their melodies. First, a straight through rendition of the album Summertown, and then Deborah took requests. 'Oh, you want to hear the hit, do you?'

13. JON ENGLISH, Flashez

I could name several venues that I saw Jon English, but this was one of the most inappropriate. A venue that usually attracted an ethnic crowd, one more used to breakdancing than rock 'n' roll. So Jon came along in his tight leather pants, accompanied by the Foster Brothers, and rocked out. He had a go at breakdancing and cracked jokes - my friends and I enjoyed the humour, but the usual Flashez crowd were bemused.

So, tell me about your favourite concerts or gigs:

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

13 Things no longer on the menu

I was racking my brain today trying to work out what to write for my Thursday Thirteen. I thought about telling you about my favourite TV shows over the years, or the thirteen characters from my works in progress. But then I thought about what has been occupying for the last couple of days...and even since the diagnosis in May.

My partner has diabetes. And it's not just typical adult onset diabetes. He has a lot of complications to go with it, so yesterday I was summoned to see the specialist and he gave us the bad news. Very directly, straight to the point. It seems that my partner's body cannot cope with sugar at all. Now he had cut out a lot of the refined sugars and stopped drinking soft drinks but now we've been told that we have to go low-carb and exercise, exercise exercise. If he doesn't lose the stomach, he is f***ed!

So here are 13 things no longer (or rarely) on the menu:

1. Bread
2. Potato
3. Pasta
4. Sweet potato
5. Pizza
6. Tortillas
7. Biscuits
8. Corn cobs
9. Fruit (in excess)
10. Fruit juice (in excess)
11. Chips
12. Sausage rolls
13. Hamburgers

Shopping took twice the time tonight, and I bought less than half the normal groceries. It takes a long time to get around the store when you are reading all the labels.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chickollage 2007 calendar now available

So in my 13 things to do before I die, I said I wanted to publish an anthology of my collage poetry.

Well, 12 poems does not an anthology make - but it does make a gorgeous full colour Chickollage calendar, now available from my Chickollage store at cafepress.

So not only is it a kind of anthology, the calendar is also a practical tool with chick lit attitude for the whole of 2007.

And soon I will start working on poems for the anthology. As colour printing costs are huge, (the reason why I haven't done a colour anthology), I will design in black and white to begin with. Stark and full of contrast, black and white typeface makes a statement all of its own.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

13 things to do before I die

In 'I'm with the Band', Kat makes a list of things to do before she dies, and sets about achieving them in the story, taking her completely out of her comfort zone.

After yesterday's post about my mum, it's probably appropriate to list what I want to do before I die. Live Journal has a complete blog space dedicated to Life Lists. It makes interesting reading, and can certainly trigger an idea or two.

13 Things to do before I die.

1. Be published by a major publishing house

2. Visit the Grand Canyon

3. Learn to bellydance

4. Visit Tasmania

5. Publish an anthology of collage poetry

6. visit Stonehenge

7. visit Frida Kahlo's museum in Mexico

8. go on an Arts Festival crawl around the world

9. visit the Hay-on-Why book festival

10. Have a bidding war over my manuscript

11. Learn to create a web site

12. visit the Salvadore Dali Museum

13. ride the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In memory of my mum

Mum cried when I got back from Egypt. She picked me up from the airport and started crying. 'You're supposed to cry when I leave, not when I come back,' I said. And that's when she told me about the lump she'd found in her breast. They did a quadradectomy and then they discovered that the cancer was in most of her lymph nodes. So the chemo started. She jokingly called it Blue Loo, and my Aunt Brenda bought her a Sharpei dog soft toy, who she called Chemo, and took to the sessions with her.

Mum nicknamed the cancer 'Rotten Rodney' and was determined that she would beat it. I sat up late one night on the computer and made a comic book of Tommy Toxall beating Rotten Rodney to a pulp, so that life returned to normal.

Unfortunately, despite mum's positivity and determination, the cancer won out.
18 months after the diagnosis, mum passed away and my brother, my sister, my father her sister, her nephew and I, were all with her.

I lost my best friend that day. The one I could always talk to, no matter what, and who never judged me. The one who always saw the good in people, always was smiling and laughing, and never let anyone get her down. The one who cooked the best roast chook in the world, excelled in chinese banquets and ran a 'cake decorating factory' in the dining room. The one who could rock a row of cinema seats with her belly laugh. The one who loved Stallone, Scharznegger and Australian movies with equal passion. The one who stopped and talked to everyone, and would embarras me (as a teenager) by telling my life story to check out chicks.

There isn't a day that goes by when I don't want to ring her, have a natter, get some sage advice and laugh. But I guess she's still around.

There have been signs. A couple of days after her passing, we talked about giving everyone a mouse from her ornamental mice collection. As I walked past the collection, a piece of icing lace that she had been working on, jumped off the tray onto the ground and shattered. I took that as a 'no'. Then when I returned to my own home, I was telling a friend about mum, when I heard a crash. A light fitting had fallen off the ceiling in the stairwell. And then there was her funeral - the minister had a car accident on the way, one of mum's friends who was waiting on the funeral was on call as a paramedic and attended the accident, and the minister went ahead with his arm in a sling. And then there was the guy who looked like Fabio at the funeral. Nobody knew him. We joked he was mum's secret boyfriend. He'd probably just wandered into the wrong chapel.

And I still dream of her. Vibrant dreams that make me feel I have spent some time with her. It's hard to believe that it's been almost nine years since Mum died and I love her dearly.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Writing Mojo

The story of I'm with the Band is moving along nicely and as I suspected, I have been writing more now that I am back at work. Tea breaks and lunch breaks are really useful, although I may start going to sit in the park to write for lunch, as someone will invariably come and sit with me in the tea room and start chatting.

I went hunting for second hand bookcases today. We had many in the garage of the last house, but by the time we tried to move them the bookcases were falling apart so they were broken up instead. I have a full three meters of space in the wall behind me where we can put some low bookcases. I put silent bids on three today - I'll find out tonight if I get them. My books need a home, and I'm tired of my writing room looking like a bomb has hit it. Yet there is no motivation to sort until I have somewhere to put the books and magazines, and various paraphernalia.

I spent yesterday collating the collage diaries with the fellow members of my writers group. We had a big turn out with many hands making light work - however they are not quite finished - there will be still be more work during the week. Doesn't matter, the launch is still six weeks away.

The diary has week to a page openings, 12 full colour collage poems, flash fiction, haiku, poetry and ransom notes. These will retail for $20 Australian and have been printed as a limited edition - 150 copies only.

There is time to enter the Ransom Notes competition to win your own copy of the 2007 diary. For full details visit Chickollage. Entries close 31st October 2006.

Today I treated myself to two episodes of Love My Way. Haven't seen before as we don't subscribe to cable but I received the DVD's as part of my Quickflix subscription. I'm looking forward to more episodes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about DIANE


1…. Slow Train to Mexico Chris Wilson

Let your friends know you want to go down in Mexico.'

Woah, what a sexy song. I could keep hitting repeat on this one ALL NIGHT

2. Wings Moving Pictures

'I've heard that angels all had must have checked yours at the door.

What time does heaven shut its gate? Do you have to be home by twelve?'

Rock and forbidden love, great mixture - just what a teenager dreams about.

3. Sex Kick Transvision Vamp

Wendy James performing this live on stage at the Hordern Pavillion - talk about pumped up. Unfortunately my CD of 12" mixes including this was stolen.

4. Like Wow Wipeout Hoodoo Gurus

"I love the way you talk, you walk, your smile, your style..."

This one reminds of blond spunk I had a brief fling with when I was a teenager. The song still makes me smile.

5. Damn I Wish I was your Lover Sophie B Hawkins.

Another song, another crush. Although it's probably a good thing that I didn't send him a copy of the single because it wasn't reciprocated.

6. Stay on Track Deborah Conway

One of the best female vocalists in Australia. Privileged to see her live at Byron Bay last year, sad to miss her gig in May in Adelaide.

7. Bow River Cold Chisel

'Listen now to the wind babe, listen now to the rain'

With the beautiful vocals of Ian Moss.

8. Last Name the Bluehouse

Beautiful vocals from a lovely duo. First saw these gals years ago on a New Year's Eve at the Cat and Fiddle Hotel in Balmain

9. The Angel and the Madman Moving Pictures

'Did you see the Angel and the Madman? Did you see them as they went by?

...I heard someone saying they were high...just a little bit...not so you'd notice...but enough....enough!'

10. Here we are Tania Bowra

Beautiful love song

11. You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart Eurythmics

'Don't cut me down when I'm talking to you...

Because I'm much too tall to feel that small...'

So hard to pick a Eurythmics song because I love so many of them.

12. Dirty Names Rebecca's Empire

13. You Will Surely Love Again Chris Wilson

And I round off the list with another Chris Wilson song, one of the first I heard him sing, and it gave me hope that I would surely love again.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why do I want to write when I have to do something else?

The bad news is: I go back to work tomorrow.
The good news is: I go back to work tomorrow.

So why is this a double-edged sword?

I'm always motivated to write when I have to do something else. When I've got nothing else to do, and I'm at home, I can find many many ways to not write, including working on my Chickollage products, hanging out at BlogExplosion, Blog Mad, Blog Advance, reading writers' forums etc. But at the point where I have to work on something else i.e. the day job, or working on my father's accounts - that's when my brain decides it would rather work on my novel.

Case in point today: I drove two hours to work on my father's accounts (glad this is a monthly, not a daily commute) and my brain acted like a food processor: chopping up all the possibilities, rearranging, imagining the missing scenes from the novel. And out of the mixture, there were some interesting results.

So tomorrow at work: I will spend morning tea and lunch writing. And then when I got home, I will have to type it into the computer and keep typing. Good things are about to happen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Nanowrimo open for sign-ups

So Nanowrimo is now open for sign-ups. Every year I seem to have to reset my password - that's the trouble when you get the computer to remember a password for you, and then change computers!

And at the moment I'm still trying to finish last year's Nano novel, after an extended break. I spent too much time on the collage poetry instead of playing in my character's reality. But that's okay because last year I finished the first draft of Making the Cut a couple of days into November, and then ploughed straight into I'm with the Band for Nano.

I've been trying to put some order into this blog, so I can see where I am with each and every writing project but the zokutou word meter doesn't want to cooperate tonight - you will notice there is no meter to measure the progress of Kissing Toads. So I googled 'word meter' and found this very funny one (below) at Writertopia. It gives you the ability to change the mood, as well as the wordcount. Think I might use this one for Nano, although it will have to be in the main body of my blog, as it won't fit in my sidebar.

I've started a Blogroll for Nanowrimo participants. Drop me a comment with your blog if you will be Nano'ing and I'll add you to the honour roll.