Saturday, December 27, 2008

You know you're getting old when...

you do things for nostalgia, not because you necessarily want to. I pondered this thought as I sat through another Christmas Carols event at our local common. When I say another, it was about our tenth, with last year being such a disaster that we nearly didn't front this year. Yet, traditions are hard to break. The children running amok were no longer my own — they had kindly attended but spent most the evening chillaxing with their friends. Santa did make an appearance and recorder man was back again, after missing in action last year. Our brave group sang along with the booklet, even when the words were misspelled or totally different (ie several lines missing). But numbers were down, and old faces missing and the stage and jazz group from Christmas past was nowhere to be seen. There was no checking out the neighbour's Christmas light displays this year. The egg nogg was great, thanks Trev, but two glasses were enough and I was hankering for bed. Bah and humbug. And then the miracle. All that time spent getting the 'right' presents paid off. It really is better to give than receive. In fact, it's quite a selfish act. I just won't tell anyone...
I think we should have Christmas once a month. Take the time to say Merry Christmas to complete strangers. When really, what we are saying is, hey, I see you. You're worth saying hi to. Aren't we lucky to be alive...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

If only life were like Scrivener...

For anyone who hasn't used the software program Scrivener, it's a little like the amazing gadget in the Adam Sandler film Click. When Adam couldn't be bothered sitting through a family dinner because he wanted to get on with his project, he just forwarded through the event to where he wanted to be. In the same way, Scrivener allows the writer to jump from one scene to another, while keeping the two scenes completely separate. My first fumblings at writing were short stories and I relied on my memory if I had an idea about a character or the plot line. Years down the track, and some longer stories later (and the filing system in the memory banks now full of useful information like all the words for American Pie, how to make a health cake with five ingredients, and the postcode for every suburb I have ever worked in), saw me making notes at the end of a MS word document as ideas interrupted my story flow. After recommendations from some fellow writers (Lili Wilkinson and Chris Miles take a bow) I finally took the plunge and looked at the Scrivener software. Am a babe in the woods at present, but I'm already liking the corkboard and scene cards that can be colour-coded, additional notes added to, images added to etc. Kind of like the Click machine, but using it for good instead of evil...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's the story of a lovely lady... Gossip Girl

Okay, I'm gonna put it out there. I have been watching Gossip Girl. I'm pretending that it's for research, but am finding it strangely addictive. I've been trying to think of an equivalent show from the 70s (my prime teen watching time) but the only thing I can come up with is the Brady Bunch (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia). Which is hardly comparable. The closest Marcia got to the escapades of the Gossip Girl gang (or was it Jan?) was locking braces with some geek. I think Alice the housekeeper got more action than the teens on that show, and that was with Sam the butcher. (Hey Alice, I've got some nice pork chops there for you.) By all accounts, what the Brady Bunch got up to behind the scenes might more closely mirror the goings of the East-siders.
Does Gossip Girl just mirror where teens are at today? The teen labels of the 70s that I aspired to were Levis, Staggers and Lee — all jeans brands. Today there are designer labels for infant clothes. Teenage girls are drooling over accessory must haves and stick thin celebs show them the only way to wear that outfit properly is to be a size 2.
I've been pondering the success of GG and wonder if it's the voyeuristic glimpse into the young and rich world that most of us will never enjoy that makes it such a naughty treat. It makes the OC look like the Brady Bunch. There's a kind of reverse snobbery where viewers can take pleasure in the downfalls of the rich and young players in this teen drama.
Which reminds me of another show that was around a couple of hundred years ago — Romeo & Juliet. Maybe things haven't changed that much at all. (And no, I wasn't around then...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High School Musical 3

Is it the stars?
Is it the music?
Is it the hype?
Will someone please explain...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ummm, excuse me, I changed my mind...

What is the protocol re going into a multi complex cinema, finding you are in a dud movie that you have just paid $16 for, then maybe just popping into another cinema to catch a different movie? I found myself leaving a movie today and would have maybe skipped into a different cinema except I was so traumatised by the dud movie that I just had to leave completely. I did want to approach a representative of the cinema to say, look that movie was awful, I didn't stay, could I have at least half my money back? I guess it's buyer beware and the onus is on the cinema goer to research what is around — which is the downside of just turning up and taking your chances. Still, I have seen some pretty good movies just turning up and even enjoyed some that have had some out and out bad press...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In the end...

Chookas to all the VCE and HSC students out there who are busting their books to pull out a miracle. Just remember, in the end, it's not the end, but another step in that fantastic dance we call life. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Grab the spotlight and shine!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Life Narratives

I'm not sure when it happens, but at some point we decide on our life narrative — a little story that we present to the world. It's helpful for social occasions. Hi, this is Tony. Tony is an accountant, he lives in Forest Hills, he has a family with two kids and he plays tennis every Sunday. Tony, this is Sarah. Sarah is an advertising account executive, has a convertible sports car, wears designer clothes and is pulling in over $140 grand a year. So what happens when Tony decides not to live in Forest Hill or leaves his family or wants to play golf? What happens when Sarah loses her job? Sometimes its easier to hold on to an old narrative. It's comfortable. It's familiar. He's the sporty one. She's the reader. But it's not necessarily who we are. We can also use it to excuse our shortcomings. 'I was never good with numbers' or 'My parents never taught me how to save money' or 'I blame...insert name here'. Sometimes we need to reassess our life narrative. Sometimes we outgrow it. It's easy just to keep the same narrative. It's easy to hide behind. But maybe much more fun to create a new one...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Age Banding - Let's Take It Further

One has to wonder what all the fuss is about re the suggested mandatory age banding on children's books. I mean, I know it's a free country, but really wouldn't it be great to give the purchaser an indication of what reading and maturity level the book is pitched at? The thing is, we know all six year olds are the same. They have the same reading level and interest and understanding of life. That's why Prep classes are so homogenous. There are no stars, no reluctant readers, no sporty kids or jokers. I think age banding should be stretched further to adult titles. It should be mandatory. No adults reading YA or kid's fiction or 50-year-olds reading the latest pink fiction aimed at 20 year olds. Forget just age banding books, let's move it on to the food types, moisturisers, cars and TV shows. This could be a revolution...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Marathon Editing

I have just finished a marathon edit of a story. By editing from beginning to end without a break, I find plot inconsistencies are clearer than if editing over several sessions. Does anyone else find this to be true? While I am itching to edit during my first read, I try to lose myself in the story and just enjoy it. By the second read, I am ready for a full-on editing session, working up a style dictionary as I go. At this point I am not looking for a copy edit, but will take these cxns in as I see them. Rather, I am looking for the plot to make sense, for the characters to ring true and for a sense of satisfaction by the end of the story. Does anyone else have any editing quirks they would like to share?

Friday, May 16, 2008

When is a book tweaked for OS market and when does it start being a different book?

Chasing Boys has been picked up by a US publisher and initial consultations suggested there were 3 issues that needed addressing before it was published. These were minor and I was happy to go along with them. I received the full proofs yesterday and was slightly alarmed by the amount of editing marks on the page. A lot of these marks referred to spaced em dashes and double quotes and Mom instead of Mum. Others were colloquial Australian words or even just words from the English language that have not translated from Australian English to American English (school bursar became vice principal, quadrangle became running track, bowling club became mini golf) where the intent of the words was changed. I have grown up on a diet of American culture through TV, Film and Music. It was therefore a surprise when I realised the level of difference that exists between our two cultures. I wonder if anyone else has come across this phenomenon? Do Australian publishers radically change text when buying in overseas titles? (I've used Vegemite as an Aussie icon but of course we don't own it anymore...)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Finding Sue Lawson

This is a shameless plug for Sue Lawson who has a new book being released in May. This is a great story that is very close to Sue's heart. A girl, a missing father, a missing in action great grandfather, overbearing grandparents, bullying, mystery, evasion, racism, love. All these issues are interwoven to create another great Sue Lawson read. Sue's own attachment to the story? Well that's her story to tell.
I can tell the story of the cover, though. Three covers, but this was the stand out yep that's the one as soon as we saw it. Mirroring the project cover idea that hooks into Darcy's world, I think the designers got it right.For those who knows Sue's work, they already know that the proof is in the pudding and it's the pudding they'll be hanging out for.
I guess time will tell if it catches the attention of potential readers.
Any feedback on the cover? Love to hear from you.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lisa Shanahan — nice to meet you!

On Friday 28 I visited The King School in Parramatta to sit on a panel for the NSW ASLA Conference. I have said it before and will again — librarians rock. They are passionate about books — not URLs or gigabytes or thumb drives — but honest to goodness, feel them in your hands, smell the pages books. I finally got to meet author Lisa Shanahan who is a thoughtful, passionate, warm person based in Sydney. We were able to spend a little time talking covers and it was interesting to see the difference between her Australian and American versions of the same book — My Big Birkett. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but it sure can make the difference between picking up a book and bypassing it in a bookstore. So many good books are left on the shelf as shoppers pass over them for something flashier, more beautiful, more sophisticated. Sometimes it's worth while dipping into the book or at least taking time to read the blurb. Don't we all deserve that much of a chance?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gosh, this is jolly outrageous! Famous 5 are on the case.

Enid Blyton's stories have long outlived their creator and generations of readers who enjoyed the tales where kids were the main protagonists and ginger beer and cream buns were all the go in the picnic basket. Now, it seems, Disney has created a modern version with descendants of the original famous five. Instead of reaching for their ball of string and battery torches they are more likely to be checking out their iPods and laptops. Forget pirates and smugglers. Todays five are dealing with a DVD pirate factory.
I am wondering what other people think of such classic titles being 'reborn' like this. (Not forgetting Thomas the Tank Engine, Blinky Bill, Spot etc.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the 23rd century is here

On the news tonight was a guy who had inserted a microchip into his arm to gain instant access into his house sans keys — look Mum no hands. Which brings to mind the story of Logan's Run, written by William Nolan and George Clayton Johnson and released on the big screen in 1976. The tagline to the film was 'welcome to the 23rd century', but it seems microchip man has moved the plot forward a little. The characters in Logan's Run had their own kind of microchip system — a palm flower, or cystal embedded in their palm — that let officials know when residents turned 21. (Unfortunately there was no room in this futuristic world for anyone over 21, if you get my drift.)
Hope microchip man hasn't given anyone any ideas.
The book spawned a film, TV series, comic strip, a soundtrack, alternative reality game and aborted attempts at a film remake.
I was trying to think of other stories that had the whole microchip in the body thing going, but couldn't think of any. Can anyone help me out?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

ET — just needed a mobile

This weekend was the regular trying to keep track of where everyone needed to be which relied on people answering their mobiles. Is there anything more annoying than getting a message bank when you need to find someone ASAP?
Sunday was spent learning 30 muscles from the human body and the body systems (ie digestive, endocrine, lymphatic etc.). No, not studying medicine but helping with Year 10 Phys Ed. Of course the TV was on at the same time — and ET's body was having his own system checked out by the nasty 'government' doctors before he managed to escape and return home. All ET wanted to do was Phone Home. Things would have been much simpler if he could have texted to say 'time to come get me Mum' but I suspect the Mother Ship might have missed the call anyway.
These were the missed your call excuses used this weekend:
— Sorry, my battery's flat.
— Couldn't hear you because the music was too loud.
— Oh, I wondered who that message was from.
— I texted you back — didn't you get it?
I wonder what the real story was?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

kids' nation

Did anyone see the finale of kids' nation last night? I missed it which was mildly annoying as I'd seen a preview that suggested sabotage in the final days of Bonanza. For those without the inclination to watch reality TV, this was basically Lord of the Flies (author, William Golding) on TV with cameras and adults behind the scenes. The premise was 'Let's see what kids will do when left to their own devices', though there was a structure to their society which was missing in the Lord of the Flies version. As with other reality shows, there were challenges and rewards. However, the goal in this show seemed to be cooperation among the contestants for the good of the town. What an uplifting idea...

Friday, February 29, 2008

so what's your story?

'What's your story Dad?'
'It's called a television, son.'

Is this just an Australian saying? I guess what we're really asking is, 'What's going on with you?', or 'What's going on here?' Everyone has a story. That's what makes people so interesting. As a teenager I would find myself edging away when my mother started up a conversation with a complete stranger. We could be anywhere. Standing in line at the supermarket or waiting in a lift or filling up at the petrol station. I was always surprised when people talked back to her. I now find myself doing the same thing. It's amazing what people will tell you — complete strangers — in such a short space of time. Maybe they are confident in the fact that you will never meet again? Or maybe they just needed to tell someone and you were there. Either way, so what's your story? When I'm at an event or party I love asking that question. I just have to be prepared to reciprocate.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Desperately Seeking Motive

Lili Wilkinson has launched me into the blogosphere — bless her. Hello world.
I don't watch too much TV but I find myself strangely addicted to Grey's Anatomy. Though I do have to ask — what is the deal with George? Believing that George has two women lusting after him is just not working for me. Don't get me wrong — he seems a nice guy. But really...
I thought this blogspot might be about writing and reading and anything that touches on these two subjects. But the George story line in Grey's seems to be preying on my mind. I guess it falls within the realms of 'screenwriting' or 'plot'?