Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Editing in the garden

Santa gave me a pair of long-handled tree loppers for Christmas and yesterday I tested them out.
It began with just a little snip here. The blades slid through the small branches of the rhododendron tree outside my bedroom window.
I moved on to another tree there. Same deal.
Then I moved to the front of the garden where an untidy bushy tree had inserted itself some years ago and had never been dealt with.
I lopped and chopped.
Edward Scissorhands had nothing on me.
I found the tree had sent out suckers and started another tree nearby, so more chopping - all to the tune of Bleak House courtesy of Radio National.
At some point I stood back to view my handiwork.
What was revealed was the beautiful trunk of a nearby tree that had been suffocating under the clinging arms of the intruder.
Editing stories are similar. Sometimes the beauty and simplicity of a story can be lost under the weight of padding, cliches, dialogue that does not further the story or repetitive prose when a single sentence will do.
It can be the most satisfying stage in writing a story.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas List - David Mortimore Baxter Series

I talked to the DMB gang the other day and asked them to send me their Christmas lists. As usual David was the last to get back to me. He said he had a really good excuse for being late, but he never actually told me what that excuse was...

Infra-red goggles (for Spies game)
Tickets to see Smashing Smorgan at the WWW Christmas Spectacular
New collar for Boris
To grow taller than Victor Sneddon by next semester
Ability to be invisible when Gran comes to visit

The boxed set of Mission Impossible
A box of chocolates for Ms Stacey
Acting for kids - Summer School
Gold Class Movie Tickets

The Genesis 3 Super Rat Gym from Pets R Crazy
Special food treat for Ralph
A new 'The Book' book - old one full
Pack of 36 watercolour pencils

New hair straightener
Voucher for Nails R Us
Voucher for X-pensive Wardrobe
Gold earrings
New pony
Latest iPod
World peace

Rose, what's the point of putting world peace? You're not in a beauty contest. As if you ever would be.
David, I can put world peace if I want to. What are you? The list police? Anyway, as if you can get the power of being invisible—
Yeah, well, I wish you were invisible—

Umm, thanks everyone.
Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas List - Hostage

Christmas dinner with mum
A real turkey this year
Mascara for Aunt Laney
A new tree for Grandpa — new lights?
A laptop (as if)
Carols on Christmas Eve - Village Green

A car - new
Something good for Mum
Something for Tully — perfume? chocolates? jewellry?

A new hoodie
Donkey Kong for Wii

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Lists - Chasing Boys

The wonderful Shirley Marr (of Fury fame) asked me for a Christmas wish list for my characters in Six, which got me thinking about characters in my other books. So, I caught up today with the girls in Chasing Boys, and they gave me their Christmas lists. (see below)


Mobile phone plan (gotta ditch the prepaid)
My own bedroom
Cash to splash
Gold class movie tickets x 3
Send Xmas card to Leonard
Make Christmas cake for Mum

Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven'
Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'
black eyeliner
black nailpolish
track down portable manual typewriter
summer photography course

A puppy
Gift voucher for The Mall
Chuppa Chups Party Pack
Jimmy Choo shoes
Foot long Toblorone Chocolate

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

To recap what I've talked about before...

My daughter (see pic with cat, taken some time ago) is mad about animals. For her 18th birthday she begged for a border collie, which she found herself after some work on the Internet etc etc. Said dog is Marley, who took her time to be convinced that you didn't just squat and do your business whenever the urge took you.

Anyway, Marley is now past the puppy teething stage, but she was obviously bored (and a little cross that we have left her to her own devices a little too long) for we got home to a white Christmas the other night. All around the Christmas tree were drifts of white bean bag beans. She'd done a wonderful job opening the zip on the bag and tossing cheer all about the room. We are still picking beans up all throughout the house.

Marley. The gift that keeps on giving.

(I would show you a photo of the event, but the cord for the camera seems to be missing — fodder for another blog!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sugar and spice... and pepper

I made gingerbread stars today — a first for me as I am not a baker of sweet things usually. I have always liked gingerbread so it surprised me a little to learn I had to add 2 teaspoons of black pepper to the mix. And then, when i thought about it, of course this made perfect sense. It added that little bit of a kick you get when you bite into a gingerbread biscuit which takes it out of the ordinary.

People can be like that, too.
You might first be attracted to the sweet side of their nature, but it is that little kick that surprises you at times which makes them interesting.

That's been my experience, anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wombat's First Christmas

Meet Bert.
He's very cute — from his tiny furry ears to the tips of his soft pink pads.
I met Bert today at The Rocks, a famous meeting spot for school kids and parents/carers in our neck of the woods.
I was there to pick up a two-footed cutie, but Bert stole the show and I just had to take a photo.
Bert is currently being cared for by a volunteer animal carer who will look after him until he is about 20kg then release him back into the wild.
Merry Christmas Bert.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Space Invaders

I've just arrived home from school awards night.

She arrived late, with her husband in tow.
I wasn't sure what is was, but straight away I felt annoyed.
Maybe because she was sitting next to me in one of those fold down seats where your personal space is invaded by strangers you will hopefully never meet again.
She took a long time to settle down.
Wanted to know where we were up to in the program.
I smiled and pointed it out on my own, then she spent the next minute or so flipping through her own to find the reason she was there — obviously some child with a cameo up on stage by page 57.
Then she talked.
She talked to the man next to her who I assumed was her husband but maybe he was someone else entirely.
When the band came on she was so bored she began clearing out her purse, sorting receipts and other papers into piles then filing them accordingly.
Then she started on her bag.
Finally her stars did their bit on stage after which the family exploded from the fling back seats, busy to get on to the next event.

And that's when I realised why she'd annoyed me so much.
She reminded me of someone I used to know.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Movie Quotes

Miracle on 34th Street
Fred Gailey: Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don't you see? It's not just Kris that's on trial, it's everything he stands for. It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles."

The Family Stone
Meredith Morton: I don't care whether you like me or not!
Amy Stone: Of course you do.

A Christmas Carol
First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Job # 3 - Would you like that wrapped?

The weekend papers were full of letters to the editor with the 'bah humbug Christmas' being the dominant theme. I suspect that if I delved back into the archives of ten years ago I'd find similar letters.

So a confession. I love Christmas. Even in my most run-down moments, life is crazy and I can't even think let alone get to the shops to buy a present moments, I love Christmas. One of my favourite jobs ever was as a present wrapper in a gift shop as a teenager. I loved that job. I helped people find just the right present, we'd have a chat about life, and I'd wrap the present with TLC. We worked on Christmas Eve until 5, then shared a Christmas drink (strictly lemonade for me, of course) then back home to our own Christmas chores. I understand Christmas isn't for everyone. But for those who don't enjoy it, I say, 'Live and let live'.

Now please excuse me, but I'm off to write my list for Santa...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Job # 2 - Stories from a Nursing Home

Christmas holidays are galloping towards us at an undignified rate and they always remind me of the holidays I spent making beds in a nursing home with my friend Sian. This was only my second-paying job ever and we were only 14/15 at the time (I was 14). These are the things I remember about that time:
• we had to wear flat shoes and I wore my favourite blue suede desert boots, which were not quite regulation
• there was a particular lady who used to dress inside out and stand facing the wall called 'Doris' and we just bustled along and did our job, as if this were normal with a 'good morning, Doris' and a 'have a nice day, Doris' when we left
• there was a man there with one leg who always wanted to tell us where the other leg was
• the matron was very strict but had a definite twinkle in her eye
• the three hours each morning flew by as we made beds and I told Sian an ongoing serial about an ongoing boyfriend, some of which may or may not have been strictly true (embellishments always) but certainly made hospital corners painless
Someone asked me once, how could you do such a job, wasn't it heartbreaking? But we were young, old age was a lifetime away, and I suspect our bustling naivety brought a little light each morning. I hope so, anyway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Neither a borrower nor a lender be?

Before I begin this rant, a pause is in order to look at this gorgeous bookshelf which looks like something you might come across in a Narnian Forest.


Do you lend your personal books out to friends?
Do you despair when the books are never returned?
Do you forget who you've lent them out to?
Do you have a no-lend policy?

When I was a child, under 10, I used to play libraries.
I know, pathetic really.
I labelled my books with the letter of the author on the spine. I made little pockets for little cards that could be stamped with the date of the library book loan (just like the books from the Sunshine Library).
The only difference between a real library and me was that I never actually let my books be loaned out. It wasn't so much that I didn't trust the kids I was playing with (i don't know how I roped them into that game) but that i had so few books I was scared of losing them. Which may account for why, as an adult, I have a couple of bookcases double-loaded with books. As for loaning out my books — I do, but it depends on:
a) who the person is
b) what the book is
c) if I can ever replace that book again.
Some of the best books I've read have been books I have borrowed from friends, so it seems only fair to reciprocate.
I now have a shelf dedicated to books that belong to other people, so it's easy when someone comes over and I can say, 'Did I borrow any of these from you?'

To loan or not to loan... that is the question.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Talk about your kids coming home to touch base (ie Chasing Boys paperback from the US), Hostage has turned up in a review on the Inkcrush blogspot ( It was nice to catch up with Tully again. Nice to know she's still out there in the world trying to be heard.
Merry Christmas, Tully.
Merry Christmas Inkcrush!

(I wonder if Inkcrush has met the Six gang yet?)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mark my words

I have to confess that my father was a dog-earer of books.
As a child I learned this disgusting habit from him, folding down a corner of a page to mark my progress through a book. I wonder if this is because the majority of books I had at my disposal were library books, which were already dog-eared and stained and smelling of other people's lives. I'm not sure when I stopped this practice, but it could have been when I started getting my own collection of books to keep. Now I can't dog-ear a book at all, and don't know if I could even if my life depended on it (okay, maybe if my life depended on it...).
Which leads me to the question of, how do you mark your spot in a book?
I love bookmarks, but they seem to disappear into the land of the other sock that goes missing in the wash. I'm sure the bookmarks and single socks are having a rip-roaring time in some other dimension, but I'd rather they stay where they are supposed to — in this one.
Meanwhile... I use anything to mark my page.
My recent bookmarks have included:
hair ties
sticky notes
cinema tickets
ripped off pieces from The Age newspaper
a birthday card
a bobby pin
a receipt.
I am currently using a bandaid — not a used bandaid, of course, but an intact bandaid that I had fished out of my bag when I needed a bookmark. And when you think of it, a bandaid is a good choice for a bookmark. Consider paper cuts. You don't often get a paper cut from reading a book, but if you did you would have a remedy at hand.
Which makes me think that bookmarking an e-reader must be not nearly as exciting as bookmarking a real book.

Monday, December 6, 2010

US Chasing Boys - Paperback writer

The lovely people at Walker in the US have sent me the paperback version of Chasing Boys.
The parcel arrived at my front door with a nice fat thump.
I couldn't answer the nice polite delivery man knock on the front door
as I realised I had turned into working from home person
who hadn't even bothered to do her hair.
When I say do, I don't necessarily mean brush
but at least rearrange out of bed hair do.

The front cover remains the same but the back cover is different from the original hard-back version — a lot lighter and includes a couple of review quotes.
Although I've had a few more babies since Chasing Boys
(Hostage, Burke & Wills and Six)
it's always nice when the kids drop home and say hello.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Axe murderer part 2: the face in the window

The hairs on my arms begin to rise way before I turn.
There's a shift in the air, as if displaced
and a hiss that could have come from me
but my lips haven't moved.
It's true, blood can run cold.
It has thinned in my veins and runs swiftly to my heart
leaving me lightheaded.
And then I turn and face the window
to see it staring back at me...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Say what you mean

Have you ever noticed how polite people mostly are?
I find myself doing the same thing sometimes:

Oh really? Is that what you thought?
Hmm, I could see why you might think that.
Oh, you think misogyny is great for a laugh, ha ha.
Well, that's certainly one way you could interpret that story...
Shoulder pads are coming back in fashion? You don't say.

Or you could just say,
I disagree.
Which is also satisfying, to the point, and more truthful.

Finally, I seem to have lost my instant Netherlands followers.
They came like a rainbow after a shower.
All bright and shiny and inexplicable but delightful.
Now they have vanished.
Maybe to appear again one day...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Okay, well NaNoWriMo has gone the way of other good ideas that I have had over the years.

There was the exercise bike that ended up being a clothes hanger.
The apple cider vinegar diet that gave me an aversion to salad dressing.
The handkerchief skirted dress that made me look like a harlequin.
The bubble skirt - the less said about that the better.
Hermit crabs as pets. (I can't talk about that either.)

Big apologies to my NNWM friends.
I wasn't much support but I promise never to do it again.

PS: Netherlands still winning in the blog view stats - two days in a row. I don't know why, but nice to know you're there!