Friday, October 03, 2008

Moving blogs

I have a new home.

That's right.

My new blog home is here

So why the move?

I had already set up a wordpress blog because it allows me to add static pages, which means I can excerpt my writing and my writing blurbs. (Hold the Anchovies and Beyond Happily Ever After already excerpted)

Once my critique partner, Kiki, advised me that I could import all my old blog posts, it didn't take much more convincing.

Besides, it's much prettier than the standard blogger themes we have available, and I didn't want to mess around looking for new templates and have photobucket logos all over my blog, because the bandwith had been exceeded.

So if you're visiting here, come to my new blog and say hello!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Having my butt kicked

I really like the warmer weather of spring, but I hate the hayfever. And this year, my allergies seem to be more ferocious than usual. I went to Melbourne with a cold, I came back with a cold and then spring made its debut. Robbie brought a blanket back from Sydney, put it on our bed without a second thought, and that set off a whole different set of allergic reactions. There have been times in the last two weeks where I've felt as if I couldn't breath. And being at work and talking on the phone all day has exacerbated the situation, until I can barely talk without choking up. I tell work I'm allergic to the place but they just laugh at me.
So this afternoon, I'm going back to the doctor. Maybe she can confirm my theory.

While I've been plagued by coughing, sneezing and a stuffed up nose, my head has remained mostly clear, which has been very helpful to keep me on track with the editing to get my partial complete, and my STALI entry finished.

My cp, Kiki, has been living up to her name and KICKING my butt (in a very nice and encouraging way). It's good to be held accountable. Otherwise, I could get lost on the internet, surfing the waves, but never actually making it back to shore.

So after working on Making the Cut for the majority of the weekend, I sent it back to Kiki for another critique.

The workshop by Margie Lawson at the RWA conference was also very very useful. Without a doubt, it is the best editing workshop, I have ever participated in, and I look forward to completing some of her online courses.

I realise I haven't done a collage of Making the Cut. Time to find some suitable pictures.

I'm reading New Moon again. This time a lot slower. The first time, I was so distressed that Edward had left that I rushed through it until he came back. It's better slower. But then again, a lot of things are!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Beyond Happily Ever After appears in Wet Ink magazine OUT NOW!

Okay, so I'm just a teensy weensy bit excited.

A couple of months ago my short story, Beyond Happily Ever After, was accepted for publication by Wet Ink magazine, and now its on the shelves. This is my first sale!

If you have come to my blog looking for a summary of Cinderella, this is not the place to be. However, if you want to know what happened to Cinderella after she married her Prince 'Charming' and you are an adult, then read on:

Here is an excerpt:

Beyond Happily Ever After

And they all lived happily ever after.
That’s what Prince Edward had promised on their wedding night, but Cinderella found that the reality of life in the palace was far removed from any fairytale.

Twelve months after the dream wedding, Cindy showed no signs of producing the expected heir to the throne. Each evening a dozen chefs would concoct a feast containing all manner of aphrodisiacs, but Cindy often felt nauseous and bloated by the rich food. After dessert, the Prince would grunt and grind away, shouting commands to his sperm as if leading his troops into battle. Cindy opened her legs, laid back and thought of the kingdom she now served. Occasionally she wondered if her husband’s sperm had gone AWOL.

Each month as her stomach retained water and she menstruated, the newspaper hounds and gossip magazines published pictures of her ‘baby bump’, and expectation flew around the countryside like clucky hens. Cindy cried as she confessed to her husband that she was still without child.
To read more, go to the Wet Ink website and purchase the magazine...

I had so much fun with Cinderella and her friends, that I expanded the short story into a stay tuned.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Spellbound on Southbank

And now the Romance Writers Conference.... Spellbound on Southbank.

I had an amazing time at the conference. Although I didn't splurge on a room at the Langham Hotel, I was just across the road at the Travelodge so there was no travel time, and I had the delights of Melbourne on my doorstep.

On the Friday, I attended Margie Lawson's workshop, which included the EDITs system (my manuscript is now full of colour, highlighting different aspects) and powering up the emotions. I left the workshop feeling as if I'd learned so much new, amazing stuff that would inform my editing and my future writing.

Friday night was the 'One Enchanted Century' cocktail party, and inspired by Twilight, I went as a vamp with bat wings. (I love my wings, I think every girl should have a pair)

Of course, I wasn't the only vampire in the room: Nikki also looked very cool.

And the devil made and appearance, right next to Nicki the angel:

Kiki was wired for sound and took out a prize for her unique costume.

There was many gorgeous fairies at the party: it was as if 'wings' were the must-have accessory of the night.

But Drinkerbell (Tinkerbells booze hag sister) also made an appearance with a carefully crafted tiara with champagne bottles and cigarettes:

A homage to Lizzie Gardiner's Gold Amex dress, was the Harlequin cover skirt:

And the Harlequin ladies themselves:

One of the highlights of the conference for me was meeting Kiki, my fabulous critique partner, in person.

The weekend was filled with workshops and fabulous conversation. It was lovely being able to put faces to names of the online friends I've made through the 50ks in 30 days challenge, and from the Romaus group. I came back from Melbourne with a request for a partial, and my head swimming with new writing craft information, and my veins coursing with writing mojo!

Bring on the Hot August nights - next year's Gold Coast conference.

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Before I tell you about my trip to Byron Bay Writers Festival last weekend, I want to talk about alchemy. How one element can be transformed into another, which is what we as writers are doing all the time.
I realised this weekend while at Bryon that in the last twelve months or maybe less, I have experienced a personal alchemy. And it's not just the new hairdo.

Actually the photo has been taken at night with a flash, so it doesn't show the highlights in my hair. I'll have to have a photo taken in daylight.

Back to the alchemy: it's more than my appearance. It's an inner transformation - I now know in my heart, my soul, and my mind that I'm a writer.

I've always been a shy person, not wanting to blow my own trumpet, even shying away from talking to people, especially writers who have achieved what I want to achieve. This year, I just went for it: I talked to authors, I networked, I had a great time.

But I don't know why it was different from a year ago. It wasn't just the hair, although it may have given me an extra boost of confidence. Maybe it's the fact that I've written six complete manuscripts. Maybe it's because my short story Beyond Happily Ever After will be published in Wet Ink magazine in September. Maybe it's because I'm so out of the writers' closet to friends and family, that I've admitted it to the rest of the world. I don't know what caused the transformation, but it feels great and I've come back from Byron Bay filled with writing mojo.

As writers, we all transform words. We take a vocabulary, a lexicon and churn it around in our mind and then spin a tale, devise a plot, develop a character and create a story. And yet all we have to work with is twenty-six letters in an infinite number of combinations. Writing is an alchemy all by itself.

Collage poetry is also an alchemy. I take the basic ingredients of cut-out words

and then transform them into something like this:

I promise that I will be back with more pictures and tales of Byron Bay Writers Festival, but in the meantime, tell me -- when did you 'transform' into a writer?

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I'm on holidays this week and everything seems to be more real and exciting.

This time next week, I'll be halfway through the Byron Bay Writers Festival. I've given up deciding which sessions to attend. Suffice to say, I think I'll have to be packing myself lunch each morning, as I probably won't have time to line up and buy lunch, or walk back to the cabin and make it. I know by the end of next weekend, my head will be swarming with ideas and concepts, and then I'll be straight back to work on the Tuesday. C'est la vie!

Anyway, there'll be lots of photos and stuff from the festival posted when I get back. And I plan to do a bit of collage poetry while I'm there.

The Romance Writers of Australia conference is going to be another chock a block weekend in a month's time. I'm booked into a day long workshop with Margie Lawson on the Friday, followed by four other workshops over the weekend. Plus I'll have two free days in Melbourne to check out the sights, maybe head down to St Kilda, do some window shopping, and go see Wicked the musical. Also on the Sunday night after the conference, I intend to head down to ACMI for the 15 minutes of fame Simmone Howell reading as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival announced yesterday. More rubbing shoulders with the literati. Maybe one day I can be the one signing the books!

Then I'll be flying back to Newcastle and popping down to Sydney for a couple of days to meet my new nephew and catch up with other friends and family members.

For now, I need to edit some chapters to send to my (very patient) critique partners and cut out some words to take to Byron to have a bit of a collage poetry fest while we're there. I also need to start planning my Chickollage website. Not much point having the domain name if I'm not going to do anything with it.

I finished reading the first novel in the Dexter series the other night. It was a bit of a disappointment after seeing the TV show, as the TV show seemed to have a much more interesting character arc for all of the characters. I was about two chapters away from the end and was thinking, it can't be ending that quickly, not based on what I'd seen on TV. Shrug! I don't think I'll read the second in the series. Although I have read number 3 - yeah, I did ask my library why they had number 3 stocked but none of the others. Weird!

Lucky they are not so weird with Stephanie Meyer's series - I've just started reading Twilight and loving it so far. Of course, it leaped to the top of my TBR pile when I received the email from the library to say my reservation was waiting for me. I can't remember whether I've reserved all of the trilogy, but I might just go out and buy them anyway, I'm only a third of the way in and I'm already sure it's a keeper. And I'm sure the library wouldn't appreciate it if I kept their copy!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Work Life Balance

I'm on the countdown to my holidays - just four days of work before I'm on holidays so I guess I'll be pretty restless this week. But first of all I have to give a training presentation at work on Tuesday, as part of my application to be in the training team.

Now this is already interfering with my work/life balance because it's so busy at work, there's no time for any preparation during work hours, so today will be spent preparing for the presentation.

Here is one of the images I plan to use in the presentation. I also plan to make the participants play a card game matching the person with the type of aged care they require, the type of fees they will have to pay and other variable factors of aged care.

But meanwhile the other stuff is on the back burner, much as I hate it. I need to do something massive today to stay on Writer Island - 15 pages of editing, and the house is mocking me. I have to do housework. But I'm still in my pajamas. Procrastination really wants to take hold but surely I let her have her way yesterday.
So I need to get with the program: get off the net and start working on the stuff I have to do.
Then after Tuesday I can relax, and concentrate on the writing again.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

July is editing month

Our 50ks in 30 days challenge ended on Monday, and it feels strange no longer to be writing under pressure. A staggering 1,749,046 were written during the challenge and I'm proud to be on of the motivators of the challenge (along with my partners in whip-cracking and mirth, Sandie Hudson and Rhian Cahill). It is great to see others achieve and push their writing boundaries.

I have emailed our gorgeous winners certificates out (so now everyone who made 50ks is officially certified) and ordered the badges so we can wear them at the RWAus conference in Melbourne in August, and display our tenancity, our creativity and our insanity.

My head is now all over the place as July is editing month for me. I'm working with two different critique partners so I'm switching between working on Diary of the Future and I'm with the Band. My first 3 chapters of I'm with the Band have insertions and deletions scribbled all over them, and I'm about to add these to the computer, to keep myself on Writer Island for another week. And in between thinking about the characters of each of these stories, the guys from Hold the Anchovies keep making guest appearances in my head insisting that I finish that story. Because although I'm at 80k, I haven't reached the end yet. As the story starts with a pizza-fortune telling, I would also like to end it that way to bring it full circle and to show Lisa's emotional growth, but I'm not quite sure that Lisa has grown as much as she needs to as yet. And in hope, I have updated the status bar in the right hand colum with a projected word count of 85,000 but they may expand according to the character's moods.

Except for the cold weather and getting home in the dark after work, I really like July. It's the month I cash in my enforced savings plan by getting my tax refund and then make the annual pilgrimage to the Byron Bay Writers Festival with my writing buddies. Just a couple more weeks of the day job and editing and writing...and then I'll be lapping up the festival atmosphere. Can't wait....