August 31, 2008

Oh my

On a completely off topic aside, if Stephen Moffat keeps writing Doctor Who episodes as romantic and heartbreaking as he has been then he might just have to be added to my writing god pantheon. Not only did you invent my beloved Captain Jack Harkness and write the brilliant Blink but now River Song.

Can't wait to see what he does running the whole show next season...hopefully more River.

PS David Tennant, I adore you. Seriously. No-one plays the heartbroken or enraged doctor quite like you.

PPS Oh my indeed. Just realised (well, wikipedia'd) Stephen is one of the brilliant minds behind Coupling. Unfair heapings of talent indeed. Can I have a Tardis to get to the rest of Doctor Who already please?

Tassie snapshots

Something's wrong with the world when you get home from Hobart and it's colder in Melbourne! Tassie managed to bust out four days of pretty darn good weather for late winter. Sunshine, a semblance of warmth and no arctic breezes. Which meant we had some lovely days of sightseeing and puttering around under the guidance of our GPS (promptly christened Madge due to her slightly authoritarian tone). Madge had some weird issue with the speed limit on the Tasman Bridge (insisting I should be going 4kph or something) but otherwise delivered us safely to our desired destinations even if she sounded cranky when we detoured from her desired route. So thumbs up to Garmin GPS units.

Anyway, some pics of the adventures (which included thwarted attempts to sample scallop pies, a gin rummy extravaganza and tasmanian pepperberry liqueur amongst other highlights).


Pirate Bay

Tassie devils with excited red ears (food incoming)

Port Arthur

And this which caught my eye at Narynna, a great heritage house in Hobart.

Funny that this year I've had two of my first non-writing related trips in ages and they were both to Tassie. But this time I didn't have a wedding with all the associated wedding stuff to go to and could just really be a tourist for awhile. Nice. Must do more often. The girls are happy and hopefully ready to work next week.

August 27, 2008

Metric time

Okay so I am heading off to Tassie for the next few days but it's time to start kicking this wip along anyway. Ideally I'd love to have a first draft done by late October. Given I'm at 40 pages and the draft is likely to be somewhere between 320-360 if the last few books are anything to go by, I've got some work to do. So it's back to the good old metric system to keep the virgo brain happy. I'm taking a notebook to Tassie and want to try and write at least a little each day. This WIP doesn't have a name or a good catchy nickname so for the moment, you get the heroine's name.

Progress - Lily

New pages - Twelve
Intriguing things - Addictions
Annoyances - Being stuck on two paragraphs for a day then realising (yet again) that I could just jump forward and come back. *headdesk*
Music - Soundtrack at the desk
Linear/Non-linear - Linear after one small forward jump to get unstuck
Location - Desk, Word, Think.
Taking care of Mel - Vacation (calories don't count on vacation right?) Chiro.
Muse food - New books and prospective trips

August 25, 2008


Apparently I need more sleep. Because here is the pic of Chris with her gorgeous hunk (aka the Clendon ; ) ).


Now that I am no longer a bear of little brain thanks to about 11 hours sleep (why are conferences so tired making?).

Firstly some pics:

The lulus at the costume party (we should've got best dressed crit group)...left to right The Dark Fairy (aka Keri), The Scarlet Pimpernel (aka Robyn), The Mysterious Fortune Teller (aka Chris), The Bright Fairy (aka Carolyn), Captain Jack Sparrow (aka moi who people didn't recognise thanks to much bronzer on this pale gal..or maybe the beard and moustache!) and The Punk Fairy (aka Freya).

The lulus at the awards dinner looking gorgeous. Left to right (Robyn (who did a brilliant job MC-ing, Carolyn, Freya, Me, Keri, Chris)

Carolyn with her Emerald (somehow I don't seem to have a Chris with her Clendon though I'm sure I took one...will have to steal one off another lulu).

It was a good weekend for the Lulus with Carolyn taking out the Emerald, Robyn being a great MC at dinner, Keri rocking the panels and chats, and I think about five editor requests being garnered between us (not bad when only two of us actually pitched!). Let's hope some of those requests bring sales...

Apart from that, the conference generally was fabulous. The Langham is a beautiful hotel with very seductive fluffy pillows (though I resisted buying one in the hotel shop). The Friday workshop with the always brilliant Barbara Samuel was great. Something about the way she talks about writing seems to always connect in the right way which is important. You not only have to find your own process in writing but find the teachers that work for you too. Not everyone will. For instance, Stephen King says something along the lines of final draft should be first draft less 10%. If I did that, I'd have a very short book with nothing but dialogue. Obviously his first drafts are long. Mine are short so I have to add in later drafts (I cut and tighten too but generally need to replace what I cut). So if you ever hear writing advice that makes you instinctively go "NO", then just ignore it.

The cocktail party on Friday night. I don't usually like dressing up but being a pirate was cool. I want pirate boots like I had for my Captain Jack costume though I have no idea where I'd wear them. Sadly the real Johnny did not turn up to tell me he admired my imitation. There were many fabulous costumes, many people apparently have the hots for Captain Jack, and as always, it broke the ice nicely.

Saturday I did Deep POV with Anna Campbell and Deep Editing with Margie Lawson (there must've been a deep theme going on). I pitched and Cindy is interested so yay. Sadly my pitch meant I missed half of Barbara's plenary but the bits I heard were great. Stephanie Laurens gave a thought provoking speech on romance and the survival of the species and Jo Beverley's rakish and romantic voles illustrated why you need your characters to be madly, crazily in love.

Then dinner which was fun and followed by more wine and chocolate to celebrate Carolyn and Chris's brilliance. Sadly much wine and a late night made Sunday a bit of a slow start but it was also a great day once the caffeine kicked in. Jenny Hutton from M&B gave a brilliant short speech about cliched openings and Fiona McCarthur's Shrek Side of Writing and Anne Gracie's Reading the Rejection Letter wrapped up the workshops with more wisdom and inspiration. Hopefully I'll have more time to put it all to use now that I've stepped down from the RWA committee. It's been a great three years helping run such a wonderful organisation and I hope the new committee just keeps taking it from strength to strength.

August 24, 2008

Back though with little brain

I am home again. Conference was fab and I shall report more later but most importantly big WOOHOO's to my ever more brilliant crit buddies:

Carolyn who took out the Emerald Single Title (and also won the STALI earlier this year) and Chris who took possession of the Clendon and followed it up with a highly commended in the VP.

More once my brain is back online.

August 21, 2008

The sun will come out...sometime

Melbourne has not turned on the greatest weather for our conference weekend. It's cold. And WET. Wet is good but not for sightseeing. But oh well, raincoats and brollys and gumboots for all. My new waterproof hiking boots are looking like a good purchase!

Have pretty much finished all my pre-conference stuff and my case is packed. Today we had a tour of The Costume Place which was great. Beautiful, beautiful clothes...a mix of history and torture (particularly for Chris who is a fabulous sewer/dressmaker/crafty person and wanted to see how it was all done). And the VT may have drooled on the odd book or two. I'll post some pics when I'm more organised.

And tonight was Bron's book launch which was fun and exciting and heaps of people came, so big WOOT for the lovely and talented Bron and may her book baby (and those that follow) find many fans and have many profitable adventures around the world.

More from conference if and when I get back to the internets, now it's time for a little relaxation after several days of much running around.

August 20, 2008

Spinning around

I have pre-conference brain. I keep thinking of errands I need to do, packing lists, planning and I'm not even leaving Melbourne....tomorrow is full of actual pre-conference stuff - committee meetings, costume tours, the fabulous Bron Parry's book launch and then the actual conference starts Friday (three days at the Langham, home of fluffy, fluffy pillows, yay). Plus I started reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss yesterday and am finding it hard to put down.

But I need to get mostly organised between now and tomorrow morning, including figuring out a I need to put the book away. And I'd like to do a little bit of writing of the new wip even if I'm not sure much actual putting words on pages is going to occur. We'll see.

Post conference, I'm going to re-implement the metric reporting to see if that inspires me to kick this draft back into gear...though there is an upcoming trip to Tassie to deal with too.

August 19, 2008


This was the writing plan back near the start of the year:

Priority 1 project: Witch 1
Priority 2 projects: Progressing Wolf 3, another pass at Wolf 2
Noodle projects: Everything else

Noodle projects are the ones you mess around with when the girls need a break. Or when you get an idea that won't go away or just for know.

Current progress:

Witch 1 - 3 drafts done and out there
Wolf 2 draft 3 - started and not yet finished
Wolf 3 - still in my head
Everything else - mostly noodling except for the new book

Current plan for the next five months or so:

Priority 1 projects - First draft of the current wip, finish Wolf 2 pass
Priority 2 projects - Vague plots for Wolf 3, Witch 2 and maybe a few chaps of them
Noodle projects: Everything else

August 18, 2008

This about sums it up

more cat pictures

I haz a justifiable cranky cos I came home this morning from errands to find this lying in the road.

Which is approximately one third of my beautiful tree which now looks like this...

Instead of this:

I hope the rest of it will survive and yes, discussions are occurring to determine who did it but wah! I love my tree! Is pretty. And just blossoming. That grinding sound you hear is my teeth gnashing.

August 17, 2008


Big huge mega congratulations to my brilliant and talent crit buddy Chris who won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Clendon Award last night!

Mucho champagne and choccies for her!!

August 16, 2008

Mel's tip of the day

If you happen to buy a new computer and import your stuff across and use Curio, then remember to save all your projects with all the assets embedded before you copy them across...otherwise you might just have a heart attack the first time you open a project and half the images are missing.

Just sayin'. Not that I just spent half an hour or so rectifying said oversight or anything. Phew. The thought of losing all my collages gives me shivers. The girls like their pretty pictures and they are time intensive to create!

August 13, 2008


One revision completed. Yay. I've discovered that for this sort of layering, tweaking, polishing pass (rather than one where I'm still adding wholesale chunks and slashing and moving) that being able to sit for a few days solid and do it all is better. I can hold the story in my head for a few days and remember it all more easily somehow.

Guess that means I should be a full time writer... : )

I have to take another squiz at the synopsis tomorrow but tonight is officially a night off. Yay.

August 12, 2008

Worth a look

Lois McMaster Bujold's Denvention Con Com Guest of Honor speech about romance and SFF and genre stuff amongst other things.

In other news, Anne Stuart is going to write more historicals.

Also, for Melbournians...there are three cool things coming up at the Dymocks city store over the next three weeks. And no, I'm not just saying that because they involve friends : )

Lastly, in case anyone missed it...Romance Writers of Australia conference, next weekend at the Langham Hotel in Melbourne too.

As for me, it's now breakfast, perhaps a walk and then back to revisions (so I can go to the last two with a clear conscience).

August 11, 2008


Melbourne has apparently remembered it's Winter...the last few days have been cold, cold, cold. It even snowed yesterday. Not here but in Melbourne.

But this morning I found this on my tree....

Spring is on the way : ) (not that Spring in Melbourne necessarily means warmer....)

August 09, 2008


I have my revisions from Miriam so I will be off pondering and reworking for a while. Nothing too major (yay) but there's some stuff to chew on. Dixie chicks, here I come (unless the girls decide they want something else entirely).

To entertain yourselves while I'm polishing and slicing and honing, check out The Australian Romance Reader, a new romance site launched by the lovely Kate Cuthbert this week. It's going to be a fab place to hang out if you're an Aussie lover of romance.

Other tasks for this week - assemble my costume for the Romance Writers of Australia conference cocktail party, reacquaint myself with my elliptical trainer and watch some Olympics. Thankfully my jetlag has been minimal (so either the homeopathic stuff I tried help or just the sheer fact that I actually had time to adjust to my destination time zone before I came back (which hasn't really happened my last two overseas trips) has helped). There's been a couple of awake in the middle of the nights but only for an hour at most rather than my usual 2-3 hours. So yay. Hopefully my brain is nice and rested and I can sort out the witch and her story while convincing the new two to hold on a bit....we'll see.

August 07, 2008

There's no place like home (or at least your own pillow)

I am back and the trip home was uneventful. No delays, a reasonable amount of sleep on the flight and the person picking me up from the airport remembered to turn up.

I'm a bit tired, seem to have a mountain of laundry to do and have the requisite long flight puffy ankles but otherwise feel no where near as exhausted as I did coming back from Dallas. I'm declaring a couple of days for pottering around, reading, napping, laundry, downloading photos, writing if I feel like it etc then it's time to kick on with the wip and do revisions. Expect random blogging until my brain kicks back in.

In a fit of semi-vituosity I've already been for a walk and done laundry today (and did more laundry and a little grocery shopping yesterday).

And the best bit...I'm still on vacation for a month : )

August 05, 2008

Monday monday

The very last day (sob sob). I started by doing the BART thing back out to Oakland to see my friend again (more mutual trying to persuade each other to move or, at least, vacation more often). Had a fabulous breakfast at the Blackberry Bistro, so if you're in Oakland check it out. Then we moseyed over to Berkley and sat up on the hill at the Berkley Rose Garden (in a fit of nostalgia from my last visit) and yakked away. After that I came back into the city for an afternoon of wandering around, hunting through various Borders trying to find Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave with no success (though I did score Patricia Brigg's Cry Wolf). I also saw Wall-E which was way cute. Robot love and adventure..what more do you need?

Now I'm sitting in the lounge at SFO, having watched a very pretty foggy sunset over the hills. Boarding starts in just under an hour and then it's movies and trying to sleep and all that jazz until I make it home. I must say I like SFO much better than LAX. No hour plus queues to get through security for a start!

All in all I've had a fabulous time and really wish I was much richer so I could afford more jaunts here and to Chicago and New York and other cool places my US buds hang out. Conference always feels way too short. I'm glad I still have RWAustralia's to look forward to.

August 04, 2008

Saturday and Sunday

Yesterday was the big day, the GH/RITA awards ceremony. Sadly it was not a good night (in the ultimate winning sense, it was a great night in the 'squee we have lots of fabulous finalists' sense) for the Aussies and Kiwis, none of my buds are coming home with pretty golden statues or necklaces but it was fun to watch them all on the big screen and glammed up.

Before the ceremony was another day of conferencing. I only did two workshops (Jane Porter and Lilian Darcy's 'It's my process and I'll cry if I want to' and a panel on writing cross-over fiction) and wandered around a bit the rest of the day, stuck my head into some signings but didn't ultimately get anything (my case is full already), went for a walk, had the obligatory it's-near-the-end-of-conference-and-I'm-tired nap. Then I had to make myself all pretty and go to drinks hosted by my fabulous agency (the Irene Goodman Literary Agency) at Bourbon and Branch, which was a speakeasy during the prohibition years and still operates on the same principle. You need the password to get in and once in it's all dark with suitable decor (including a fabulous pressed tin ceiling in the libary room) and cute yet mysterious looking barfolk in thirties gangster type hats and shirts. The cocktails were pretty good too. I'm going to have to try and find orange bitters in Australia to replicate one of them. The drinks were fun and it was nice to meet some of Miriam and Barbara and Irene's other clients.

We made it back from drinks in time for me to find the Aussie contingent for the ceremony and much hooting and cheering in typical Aussie fashion of our Australian and Kiwi nominees. Then there was dessert and possibly more drinks and a quite late night : )

Today (due to said quite late night) has been quiet. Kelly and I succumbed to the lure of Macy's handbag department so we will both have fabulous bags to show off at the RWOz conference in a few weeks. Since then I've been reading and possibly napping and am now contemplating the wip again. Tonight I have to pack and then tomorrow night I fly home. Time has flown over here but in some ways it also feels like I've been away for a long time. It will be nice to get home to my own bed and the fuzzy beasties (though not so much the Melbourne winter!)

August 03, 2008


Am I the queen of imaginative blog post titles or what? lol

It's even more confusing when I'm posting this on Saturday here in SF but blogger thinks it's Sunday as my time zone is set to Australia. Hence the boring title.

So Friday (btw it's quite warm here today...almost summery!). Friday started with breakfast (bagels and fruit) where I ran into AA and Tracey. Then a little bit of writing time before I did the morning workshops (Writing in the Pressure Cooker which was good and the Spotlight on St Martins which just solidified my desire to write for them one day).

Next was lunch with Connie Brockway who did a brilliant speech on writers as superheroes using the hero's journey to illustrate the writing process. After a yummy lunch, I went to Eric Maisel's very interesting 2 hour session on Creativity for Life. I could've listened to him for a lot longer and took lots of notes. Luckily it was taped. I topped all that off with Jane Porter's first person POV workshop which was also great (Jane is always a fab speaker and she had some cool insights in first person, stuff I hadn't thought about from her particular angle).

Workshopped out, I headed back to my room, changed for dinner with Char and the gang from various online classes. We had fabulous mexican and fabulous margaritas and I discovered that my weird naturopathic diet has um, reduced my alcohol tolerance, so I had to drink lots of water and eat the pringles from the minibar and write a few more pages before going to bed lol. And that was Friday and now I have another workshop to run to, so the Saturday report will be tomorrow but think good thoughts for all our fab Aussie and Kiwi RITA and GH finalists tonight.

August 02, 2008

The rest of Thursday

So. Thursday was busy. I had lunch with Miriam, who really liked the new book, so that was a good start. I'll have a few revisions to do when I get home but then we'll start the submission process with it. Yay! Go weirdo witchy demon techno book. We talked books and Top Gear and various cool things besides my book and ate very yummy mahi mahi (at least I did).

Then I did some workshops in the afternoon. Including SEP's Six Magic Words which wasn't taped last year and I missed going to then, so was happy I got there this time. She's a great speaker and had good advice.

After workshops a quick dash back to Out the Door for more rice paper rolls on the grounds they are healthy (and not a hamburger) and I was going to the Golden Network dessert reception afterwards so needed something vaguely resembling nutrition.

The dessert reception was fun (and I ran into Miriam again who was trying to be a clone and attend about five different events at once). It was great to see four Aussies get booted to alumni status (you get booted from TGN when you sell). So yay for Anna Campbell, Christine Wells, Bronwyn Parry and Tracey O'Hara.

After all that, I headed back to the room and decided an earlyish night might be in order. I did get invited to drinks but was already in bed reading, so passed. Given today will be just as busy, that might have been a wise decision.

August 01, 2008

The first day part two and the second day part one

Last night was the literacy signing which was big and thousand odd women in one room is always noisy. I often wonder what the men there think : )

I managed to find some friends and strangely enough, buy some books. All good. After that I had drinks and dinner with some of the Aussie contingent - drinks up in the View Lounge on the 39th floor which has a great view over the city and great margaritas and dinner at Mel's Diner (I never knew I had a diner!).

This morning most the aussies had breakfast at the Palace Hotel hosted by the lovely Debbie Macomber. The hotel is just gorgeous. Very old world San Francisco and breakfast was delicious. The workshops start this afternoon and before that I have lunch with Miriam, so it's going to be a busy day.