Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Evolution

2011 is the year I became a writer. I think it is, although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly, since I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a crayon. 2011 is certainly the year I became a published writer, although not in a genre I could have predicted in a gazillion years. Life’s kinda funny like that.

2012 is going to be the year when I think hard about becoming a professional writer. By that, I mean actually setting some goals: finish the first draft in x weeks, edit in x weeks, finish the second draft in x weeks rinse, repeat. I might even get a year planner for my wall I’m that motivated. Anyone who knows me will tell you that’s as serious as it gets for me.

In 2012 I’m going to treat writing like a job, and I’m going to act like a professional. In 2012 I’m not just going to pour a glass of wine, plug into iTunes and dive straight in. Well, I’m still going to do all of those things because that’s how I write, but the difference is I will be working towards a goal.

In 2012 I will finally get my shit together.

Mind you, I’ve been saying that for years.

What are your resolutions?
Will you keep them?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Barry Christmas (A Challenge)

I dare you to watch this and not laugh: 

And here's festive Barry: 

Have great holidays, everyone! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Genre is bunk

I don't read books with aliens and spaceships in them, he said. So he didn't read 

I hate Westerns, she said. So she never looked at

Isn't that a romance? he asked. He never picked up 

Autobiographies don't interest me, she said, and never got to read

That's a kids' book, he said, so he didn't borrow 

Have you ever discovered something wonderful in a genre you don't usually read? 

Genre is great for telling bookshop employees where to shelve products, but don't ever let it tell you what to read. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

7x7 - with a twist

Yay! I have been given the 7x7 Link Award again, this time by Marian Allen. Thanks, Marian!

For those who don't know, you are to link to the following: 

- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
– Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved

– The post that you are most proud of

Because I did this one quite recently, the answers haven’t actually changed. Here they are again. 

So instead of just reposting them here, I thought I’d bend the rules and do something different. Instead of telling you about 7 of my posts, I thought I’d tell you about 7 things that I’ve discovered that I love.

1. Tiddly Wiki. Claudie got me onto this. It’s like a tiny personal Wikipedia for your WIP. Really, it’s a godsend for people like me who believe they can remember every character’s name, date of birth, and third aunt removed, and then find out weeks later in editing that they don’t even know who the hell this character is. Tiddly Wiki is fabulous for creating your story Bible. A word of caution though -- it is way too easy to spend so much time creating and linking entries that you forget you were supposed to be writing that novel in the first place.

2. Edit Minion.Everyone wants a minion, right? This minion will help you find weak words, passive voice, often misspelled words and more. 

3. Wordle. I love making word clouds or, as I’ve discovered they are called, wordles. Not only do they look pretty, but they show you what words you overuse and how prominent your characters and themes are. (If you are writing steamy romance though, do not do this. The results will only scare you.)

4. Free personality tests like this one at HumanMetrics.I love to answer these in character and let the crazy shine through. It’s fun, and it just might just give you a little more insight into your characters. Or pause for thought about your own mental stability.

5. Can't get a fix on your character's physicality? Try sites like this one, where you can search for faces based on age, sex, height and more. 

6. Scrivener. No joke, if you're not on the Scrivener band wagon yet, let me help you up! It's fantastic, it's cheap, and it's available on Mac and PC. Just download the free trial, and I promise you, you'll fall in love. 

7. Nuff said.


What are you packing in your writing arsenal? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This blog is brought to you by...

Okay, so I had this whole post typed up. No, seriously, promise, cross my heart, true god and no gammin.

Lies. All lies. I had half a post typed up, and then I remembered that it’s been ages since I posted anything, and I was going to blame work and Christmas and “Omigod, I was supposed to get Kath something really nice when I went shopping today, and I got myself bookshelves instead.”

So instead of a proper post, here are two ads that have been making me laugh this week. They’re both from New Zealand, and I love them even though the first one is making fun of us Aussies.

Needless to say, “Bro, Monique says you’re dumb” is now the standard comeback to anything in our family. As is, “No surprises there.”

What’s making you laugh this week? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Me no speak Americano...

Dear Americans,

Youse are a weird mob, ay. *

Most of the time we speak the same language, then suddenly we don’t. We have cultural differences as wide as the Pacific Ocean that divides us. Or the Atlantic, if you’re coming that way. I first realised this when I had a discussion with MC about wheelie bins here

And now that I’m working with an editor and publisher in the US, it’s gotten interesting. I can handle American spelling. No worries, mate. I’ll cull the “u” from “colour” and switch the “re” around in “theatre” and swap the “s” for a “z” in civilisation, and she’ll be right. Or, if you will, bonzer.

(NB: I have never used the word “bonzer” in real life.)

Translation: Come on, Australia!! 

I’ve seen enough TV to know that you Americans go to the bathroom instead of the toilet, eat cookies instead of biscuits, and you walk on pavements or sidewalks instead of footpaths. But there were a few little things that my ripper line editor caught for me.

Did you know that you go forward, backward and toward? You don’t go forwards, backwards and towards. Struth.

(NB: I have also never used the word “struth” in real life.)

A bit of background first. The book I have just finished line-editing has an Australian protagonist, which was bloody grouse.

(NB: I have never used the word “grouse” and neither has my character. He’s not a bogan.)

To start off with, the entire thing was told from the POV of the Aussie. Then my editor suggested alternating POVs with the love interest. Who is American.


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Google Maps, Wikipedia, and the internet generally. Seriously, mention that a character’s dad likes to go fishing, and suddenly you realise you should probably be able to name the fish. Thanks, Fishing Minnesota!

My line editor also saved me from making a real clanger, when I had my American character mention a car park. “An American would use the term parking lot,” she told me. Of course you would! I knew that one, and I'm kicking myself for it! 

And the best thing about my editor? She let my Aussie protagonist keep the word "arse". (As in, pig's arse, mate, you're having me on! Or not.) Because, I'm sorry, you can take my "u"s out of my "our" endings, and you can make me write "er" instead of "re", and  you can take my "s"s and make them "z"s (which is pronounced zed by the way), but I have to draw the line somewhere. I drew it around my arse. 

(Image not available.)  


Ever found out that English is not the universal language it's cracked up to be?
Or, can you make any sense out of this pearler?

This arvo, Robbo the garbo -- he’s a bit of a yobbo -- come a gutsa on the lino and now he’s off on compo. The drongo.

* Yeah, not just the Canadians that do that!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Bert Hinkler taught me about writing.

Who is Bert Hinkler, you may ask? He's this guy: 

Bert Hinkler was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia and he came from a town called Bundaberg on the Queensland coast. I lived in Bundaberg for a few years as a kid, and Bert Hinkler is their most famous export. Apart from the rum, I suppose, and they must have figured it was more edifying for school children to visit Bert Hinkler's house than the rum distillery. Shame. 

Anyway, going through a stack of old primary school stuff, I found a Bert Hinkler-related writing exercise. It could be Grade Six or Seven. I'm not sure, because the cover has fallen off and, frankly, my handwriting was always that bad. But I'd like to thank whichever teacher it was who set this exercise, because this is good stuff. 

Although I obviously didn't get into it at the time. My map of Queensland isn't even coloured in properly, Hinkler's house appears to be in the ocean, and there is no way in hell that plane would get off the ground. 

Do you run through what your character sees, hears, feels, fears or enjoys in each scene? 
How much makes it into the scene? 
Do you ever wish you could illustrate your own stories? 
Are you jealous of my plane drawing skills? 


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