March 29, 2007

Where's my pillow?

It's been a big week. Vanishing cats, end of my course with Barbara (WAH), finalling manuscripts (still pinching myself there), busy busy at work and body clock all out of whack from the end of daylight savings. Which normally I love because I sleep well and feel like I'm sleeping in. This week though I've been waking up way early instead. Like 5.30 am. Not good. Though a handy time for calling New York.

So for now sleep is on the agenda. Tomorrow is writing. Saturday is lulus and celebrating recent lulu good news. Sunday is a christening and RWA meeting and hopefully more writing. I may be light on blogging.

PS End of March already? How on earth???

March 26, 2007

Golden days

Apparently it’s the year of the fire pig in chinese astrology. The Golden Pig, as it’s also known. Now my chinese sign is the pig and therefore a fire pig which is generally a very good thing is an extra good thing. And so far that’s been the case.

Today is an extra golden day because I found out I’ve finalled twice!! in RWA’s Golden Heart Competition. Wolfy in the paranormal category and one of my category manuscripts for short contemporary. I’m kind of stunned but very thrilled. I’d hoped the wolf had a chance given it’s done well in comps so far but wasn’t expecting the short to final at all. Now Dallas will be extra exciting.

The only sad part in the tale is I missed the actual call (which was early morning here in Oz) because I was showering (and giving myself the ‘well you probably would have heard by now so not finalling is okay’ pep talk in the process). Luckily Karen Fox emailed me as well as left me a message on the machine so I have proof I’m not dreaming. And even better luck that I decided to check my email one last time before leaving for work because I hadn’t noticed the answering machine blinking at ALL. I might just wear out my answering machine playing back the message.

Big congrats also to Bronwyn Clarke, fellow Aussie, who finalled in the GH Romantic Suspense and our aussie RITA nominees, Barbara Hannay, Marion Lennox and Sara McKenzie.

In fact a big fat CONGRATS and WOOHOO to anyone who’s finalled in either comp because it’s a great achievement.

Now I’m off to have some champagne and just possibly play my message again : )

March 24, 2007

A near cat-astrophe

I woke up this morning early and realised the orange cat hadn't come in last night. He's getting sneaky in his old age and likes to duck outside before dinner and push the limits of when he comes back in and gets locked in for the night. But he's not usually terribly late because hey, dinner is one of his all-time favourite things.

But this morning no orange cat. Which means he'd missed dinner and breakfast. And it had been raining all night (yay, rain). Getting one's orange paws wet is not on the list of all-time favourite things.

Needless to say I got a little freaked out. I started calling him at a suitable for 7am volume. I wandered around the side streets in the rain and up to the main road (which he doesn't go near usually...too many fences between here and it for getting elderly arthritic cat knees). No cat.

After a few more hours I started to really freak out. Cue tissues. He's not the quiet type. I figured if he was stuck anywhere nearby I'd hear him yelling. So, I did the sensible girl in crisis thing. I called my mum. And the VT, who promptly hied herself over from her far away suburb to help look (VT's are genuinely ace). We do the side streets again, probably ensuring all the neighbours thought they were being cased by peeking into back yards. We call him.

Still no cat. Not looking good. VT offers to go drive around the block some more. As she leaves, I thought I heard a meow. Go out and call him again. No response. So I figure wishful thinking and call the vet and the RSPCA. No sign of orange toothless burmese at either. VT arrives back, no flat cats found on roads, so that is one good thing. She suggests making a flyer and doing a letterdrop so we start doing that. Then I figure I'll go outside and call him again.

This time, I hear squawking in response. Outraged burmese squawking. VT and I hoon into the street, track him to neighbour's garage, from which he is promptly released. What does he do when rescued? Streaks away from us to sit down in the driveway and turn and give us the dirtiest of looks as if to say "what took you so long?". Then comes inside and gobbles down breakfast, has a smooch then goes to hide in the cupboard and sleep off his traumatic experience. VT and I collapse on couches, in need of vodka. Instead we did paperwork for RWA.

I have no idea how he didn't hear me calling him the first forty times. I mean, he was a whole 10 metres away. I'll get his hearing checked next time I'm at the vet.

But at least he's back. And I only aged a hundred years or so. Nothing a good night's sleep shouldn't fix. Or a nap. If only telemarketers would stop ringing me every time I try to nap. It's like they have a sensor on my pillow or something.
Maybe I can fool them this afternoon. And VT, I owe you chocolate.

And here is the orange cat. I'd like to say he's covering his eyes in shame for stressing everyone out but nah, he was just washing his face.

March 22, 2007

Water whining

I got my quarterly water bill today. For those of you playing along in other countries, Australia is having a drought. Has been for about 7 years now. The weather boffins say we might be coming to the end but still, water = not enough of it. Water restrictions abound.

So I was looking forward to getting my bill and seeing my water usage and if the extra measures I've implemented are helping. Good news. My usage which used to be somewhere between efficient and average for a single person household with no garden (which I think is pretty good given I'm a single person plus two thirsty furballs household with a small garden), has gone down to 10% below efficient usage for single person household with no garden. Yay me. Cue the smug. I am not a wally with water.

However, one would think, that somehow that would translate to a reduced water bill. Um, well, it is slightly reduced. Maybe a couple of bucks (after adjusting for the $10 rebate I got on my way more than $10 water efficient showerhead to replace the showerhead I think was already an efficient one but wasn't sure because I didn't buy it) cheaper but that's it. At this rate I'll get back the cost of my water saving measures in oh, twenty years or so (well, apart from the benefit of there still being water that is). And why is there only a small saving you ask when I've whittled my usage down at least 10% if not more? Well, that would be because almost 90% of the stinking bill is service charges. Sewage and drainage and blah blah blah. Yes there's infrastructure to maintain but, to quote Grey's Anatomy, SERIOUSLY?!?

Now I'm all for saving water but I think the government is going about this wrong. People respond to the hip pocket. And people have talked about increasing the cost of water per kL etc but that seems dumb when so little of the bill is actual water cost. I have a better idea. Hit the service charges. Those who are using water wisely should be rewarded. And those who aren't should pay. There should be a scheme that means if you're in a certain efficiency bracket you get an appropriate discount or penalty on your service charge. That might help motivate people. It would at least decrease grumpiness in this household once every three months.

We shall resume normal programming soon : ) In the meantime, rain dances appreciated.

March 21, 2007


Right, so somehow it's Wednesday already. Eeek. One of those weeks at the day job. I'm currently working on a project involving drafting lots and lots of documents. With lots and lots of finicky detail and teeny tiny endnotes. So not terribly conducive to coming home and sitting down to open yet another document. But I shall have to work it out because this project has another couple of months to run (interspersed with a few other similar projects) and the book has to keep chuffing along (at the moment mainly because Keri has pulled ahead of me in wordcount, dammit : )!!) Hey, if childish competion works....I say go for it.

To clear my head of document overload I went for a walk at lunch and somehow ended up at Borders (thank you 40% off voucher) and Of Science and Swords (no vouchers but books are cheaper there anyway). Apparently the brain wants to relax from lots of reading of dry stuff with lots of reading of interesting stuff. Yay.

Now all I need to do is lock those books away so I can keep the page count growing. Roll on Friday. And look, it's time for House.

March 17, 2007

Things are good

I finished reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It was fantastic. This copy came from the library but I shall be setting about obtaining my own version asap. I want to read it again, more slowly, after consuming it in big greedy gulps this time round.

It's weird. It's a book I've picked up several times in various bookstores and always put down again. The cover blurb doesn't really give you a feel for the world which is a weird-but-it-works of magic and vampires and quasi post apocolyptic/vaguely steam punk. But I'm very glad I gave it a go. It's happened to me a few times, the picking up, putting down then absolutely devouring when I finally get into it. Anne Bishop's Dark Jewels trilogy was like that and Bujold's Vorkosigan books. Both of them more due to covers more than cover blurbs. But I made up for lost time by quickly acquiring every thing they'd written. So I'm going to be on a hunt for more McKinley too. And the thing I like about all of them is a truly original take on the story they're telling. The sorts of takes that makes you want to be that good.

Sadly the FAQs on Ms McKinley's website says she won't be writing a sequel until her Story Council comes up with the idea. Which makes me grumble and say 'wah' and mutter about having to respect people's processes : ). So to RM's Story Council I say "cough up the idea, pretty pretty please", or even the idea for Sunshine's cookery book because man, that book made me hungry...apart from the gory bits.

Even better, after I turned off my light far too late having finished reading, my own book started yammering away in my head, so I think something has shaken loose there. Yay and double yay. Haven't had a lot of time to write today due to the ballet but am going to get stuck in tomorrow.

The ballet was good. Don Quixote. Light on the pretty prancing bits which are fairly pointless. The lead dancers did great even though, sob sob, we did not get to see Ethan. C'est la vie, I guess.

March 16, 2007

How much is enough?

Today is the non day job day of the week. And apart from general joy and happiness caused by not being at work, it's also the day where I'm being a full time writer.

Which means trying different things and learning what works but most of all, trying to figure out what my writing pace is. How much per day and what times work best. Due to the day joy I currently write a lot at night. And I'm a night owl not a morning person but that doesn't mean I want to still be writing mostly at night when I do get to do this full time (postive thinking and all).

I'm a fairly fast writer. I'm not Suzanne Brockmann or Nora Roberts or one of those people who can punch out twenty pages a day regularly (for one thing I think my hands would rebel) but I'm relatively fast. My pace is somewhere between four to five pages an hour when a book is going well. Higher if it's going very well.

This morning I've done 7 pages (with the alphasmart on my bed as I was being distracted by the internets) plus achieved some houseworky chores. So go me. I'll do some more pages this afternoon. Hopefully at least 4.

I think my pace is somewhere around 10 pages a day for a full days work. That's the point where the girls start to whine and lose interest. So I think that would be a good goal for full days. Day job days I aim for four or at least a minimum number per week. Someone (possibly Barbara) said that you should set your bare minimum amount as well as your normal amount. I think on a full day that would be 6 pages. That much I should be able to do standing on my head. Two hours maybe less, maybe more depending on how the book is going. An amount that should be stealable no matter what else is happening. And my stretch goal would be 12-15 pages. That's my pace when a book is flying. But I know that sustained bursts at that pace result in downtime to recover at the end. Which is doable at the moment but probably not what you want if you're rolling from deadline to deadline.

What about everyone else out there? What goals do you set yourself? How do you motivate yourself to keep the pages churning along? Do you rough draft then revise? Or polish as you go so done is done?

March 15, 2007

You are coming to a sad realisation...

How much do we love the mac vs pc ads? Quite a bit. Unfortunately life doesn't come with the 'cancel or allow' function. There are days when it should.

Today I dragged myself off to the optometrist, having had a few too many headaches lately and noticing that things in the distance are fuzzier than they were. Diagnosis, yes, I am more blind than I was before. And am now shortsighted rather than slightly long sighted. New glasses required. Plus updated lenses in existing glasses because we still like them. All fine. I like glasses. And I found funky new hot pink frames (trust me, it works). But then the optometrist said "do you have prescription sunglasses?". Me "er, no." Optometrist "how do you drive?". Me "er, I'm not that bad, am I?" Optometrist "diplomatic silence" (or rather crack about wanting to know what suburb I live in so he can avoid it on bike rides...I'm taking that as optometrist hyperbole/humour).

Now prescription sunglasses aren't bad in theory but I lose my sunglasses with alarming regularity. Which is fine when they're the thirty dollar numbers from wherever. Less good if they're several hundred dollar prescription versions. Sigh. Plus my health insurance doesn't cover sunglasses...

I figure inside glasses come first because most of my time is spent inside typing away. Sunshine isn't causing my headaches. In fact, it's a very good book : )

At least it's the end of the day job week. Writing and ballet beckons. And hopefully the last gasp of summer heatwave is just about done.

March 13, 2007

Brain. Is. Fried.

The problem with long weekends is that they equal short work weeks. Short work weeks equal busyness. Especially as I have all day training tomorrow which kind of means four days work needs to squish into two.

Consequently I'm only one day in and my brain feels like something a zombie might enjoy as a tasty treat. I have soldiered on a couple of pages but I think that's it. From now on it's couch with one eye on NCIS and one eye on Kelly's new book (yay!) which arrived in the mail today with a couple of others which I shall no doubt mention when I get to them.

After that, you will find me communing with my new pillowcase.

March 11, 2007

I spoke too soon

Oh dear, blog about great food one day and the universe smacks you down the next.

Since my post there has been one unmitigated baking disaster demonstrating why you SHOULD NOT LEAVE AN EGG OUT OF THE RECIPE WHEN THERE IS MEANT TO BE ONE (no, I have no idea how I did it, I've never done it before, I got the egg out of the fridge even). Result chocolate sludge rather than muffins.

Then tonight, I was feeling like some noodles. So I thought I go up to my local chinese. Turns out it's changed hands but the new slogan was all about freshness and health, so I thought let's give it a go. The old place was awesome. Great pad thai, great other stuff, huge serves so buy one, get two meals. New place, no pad thai but nice sounding stir fry noodles. Good in theory. Unfortunately very bland in practice. Sigh. I guess I'll be searching elsewhere for my noodle fix.

But in good news, I scored a great new doona cover at the outlet mall. Over 50% off : ) Yay!

And tomorrow is still weekend! Double on the yay!!

March 10, 2007

24 hours in food

Sometimes simple is the best.

Fish and chips on Friday night.
Huge plums with tart skin and sweet flesh the colour of sunsets.
Mum's roast lamb.
Bruschetta made from home grown tomatoes and basil with great olive oil and aged balsamic.

Now if only I had some chocolate...

March 08, 2007

What dreams may come

First of all, a big whopping full volume flat out WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO to Keri. Because Tempting Evil, the third Riley Jensen novel has debuted at #14 on the freaking NYT bestseller list (that is the name of the paper, you know, the freaking NYT : ) ).

Now I have a friend who's been on the NYT list TWICE!! Lovely to see lots of readers with such excellent taste.

In other less world beating news, the girls came up with an idea for the wip last weekend. An idea that made me go "eeek, but that's just mean". One that would take my heroine places she doesn't want to go. Which pretty much means I have to do it.

So while I was trying to work out exactly how one would do that, the girls turned contrary. They changed the subject. They demanded Buffy Season 7 and Love Actually and The Constant Gardner and Reign of Fire. They weren't much interested in writing much but they're circling it. Something tells me the girls are going dark.

They also let the other wips start talking again. Not quite shouting in my head five at a time like they were last year but chatting away quietly. To the point where a single gesture in a dream last night woke me up with a whole scene in one of them playing in my head. Something sad to go with the general queens of pain thing they seem to have going on. Luckily it was still there this morning and I got down a thousand words or so. Wrong wip but sometimes you've just got to go with it. And now that it's out and I've hunted through iTunes for some more music for that book to keep them happy, maybe they'll let me get on with Wolf 2. Into the deep dark woods. Let's hope they don't mind me carting a torch along something solid like Mulder and Sculler used to carry. I think I'll need it. It's a four day weekend here. Let's see what happens.

PS Keri rocks to the rockingest!!! Go buy her book.

March 03, 2007

Saturday and the weather is contrary

I had to get up early (well, early for me on a Saturday) to do a chat for the class I'm doing with Barbara Samuel. So I thought I'd be virtuous and chuck some washing on. After all, it's meant to be 36 today (the weather has not yet cottoned on to the fact it's autumn here downunder), good sheet and towel drying weather.

Famous last words. The load was just finishing when thunder arrived. Soon after rain joined in the party. Sigh. It's now sunny again but there are ominous grey clouds lurking just daring me to try hanging anything out. Which means I now have the dryer running. On a 36 degree day. Only in Melbourne.

In other news, I took myself off to see Music and Lyrics yesterday. Hugh Grant in fine form and a very funny movie if you were a teenager in the eighties and into pop music along the lines of Wham et al. Interestingly it's also about blocked writers, and following your path and what it takes to succeed. I'll admit to getting quite impatient with Drew's character's woe is me line. I almost applauded "Inspiration is for amateurs". It's true. It is. Inspiration is wonderful and fabulous and there's nothing better than writing a book that pours onto the page. But not all books do and sometimes you've just gotta sit and grit your teeth and write through the tough patches. Particularly if you want to do this for a living. You've gotta get the book done. And honestly, often if you go back and read the stuff from days when it feels like you're trying to carve the words onto granite with a rubber toothpick, you often can't tell the difference from the days when you are grinning and telling yourself you are the best writer ever in the history of any universe anywhere. So sit ye down and hands on keyboard. Taking satisfaction in a progress bar is sometimes more helpful than waiting for the muse.

Elsewhere, Kelly Hunter's second book, Priceless, comes out in Australia this month (or you can go order it now from like I just did). Kelly is a fabulous, fresh, funny writer and a great gal too, so go forth and purchase.

And finally, Wolfy has made the final six of RWAustralia's Emerald Single Title comp. Which is not the final round but still, chuffedness. I think I can call that a competition hat trick. Let's hope that editors like it too.

March 02, 2007

Friday ramblings

First of all, Zokutou has arisen from the ashes! Happiness has returned to the hearts of overly motivated by wee wormy progress bars writers everywhere lol.

Second of all, a big YAYAYAYAY for fellow lulu Chris who has finalled in the RWNZ Second Chance comp and whose work is winging off to Paula Eykelhof. The second chance comp is comp for all the finalists of various RWAus and RWNZ comps, so tough competition. Go Chris : ))

Third of all, last night I went to Fifteen for dinner with the VT and her husband. For those of you who don't know, Fifteen is one of the Jamie Oliver foundation restaurants set up to train disadvantaged young adults as chefs. It was fab! The food was lovely, the place is funky, the number three cocktail was delish, the wait staff were excellent and the when the VT joked that the only thing that would make the divine chocolatey dessert thing better would be another one, one appeared (not bad for a set course menu!). It's not cheap but I go to the odd restaurant of the la swank variety with work and I'd have to say this is one where I think it's worth the money. And it supports a great cause.
So if you're in the market for a treat yourself dinner in Melbourne, give it a go.

Of course, I now must eat vegetables for about a week : ) Worth it!

And now I must write. And collect packages given that Murphy's law was operating yesterday and no less than two different courier companies tried to deliver me stuff. Of course they couldn't do it today when I'm at home. And they can't redeliver until Monday so collecting is the option. Hopefully one is my new modem to complete my switch of ISPs (after changing my email addy in forty billion locations). My old one works after much gnashing of teeth but the new one I think will be speedier and will allow ADSL2 if my exchange ever gets upgraded....