Saturday, October 31, 2009

The things I have been up to instead of writing...

Life, it has this funny way of sidling in and distracting you with enticing things, or urgent things, or frantic things, and before you know it, whammo, another month has gone by. I would like to formally announce that I blinked and missed October, and the month before that, come to think of it.

So what have I done this week, other than not write a single word on the novel?

Arrived back from Australia (I couldn't resist dropping that in)

Waited for my luggage to arrive back from Australia - it took the scenic route.

Recovered from the trip to Australia. My stomach and my internal clock stayed on NZ time, while my social life operated on Aussie time.

Organised a couple of events.

Sewed a Puss & Boots outfit for Mr Seven-Year-old for the school disco. Luckily for me Mr Ten-Year Old was happy to go in the Harry Potter Griffendor colours Quidditch uniform I made him last time.

Made a batch of Halloween Ghost meringues.

Made a batch of vanilla flower cakes.

Frantically read An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon so I'm prepared to interview her for the radio next week.

Successfully ignored anything resembling housework.

Successfully ignored anything resembling writing.

Pfaffed around a great deal. (Is that how you spell Pfaffed? My sewing machine is a Pfaff, so does that mean when I'm sewing I'm ignoring the important things I should be doing? Rhetorical question really!)

Drank some nice wine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Emotional Tourist

Okay, I will admit here and now that I cried when I saw the Sydney Opera House, and I cried when I saw the harbour Bridge. I also cried when I met up with my rellies - do you detect a little pattern here?

Let's face it, I'm an emotional kind of a girl, but hey, that means I am having a damn good time.

It was hosing down with rain on the day we went right into the city. But the weather cleared down to a drizzle, so I got to walk over to the Opera house. The rain did wreck havoc with the hair though, hence the killer frizzies from hell!

We stayed in Newcastle and in Sydney. I loved the incredible machinery associated with the coal in Newcastle - the huge conveyor belts and feeder machines, huge cranes. The scale was wonderful. I have a bit of a thing for the industrial landscape and machinery.

All in all it was a fantastic trip - it was was great to see family I hadn't caught up with for years, and I loved Sydney. Can't wait to return with the whole crew next time.

Random observations on Sydney:

Flying in to Sydney I was struck by the beautiful bays and the abundance of red roofs.

There are so many trees, but they were all eucalypts or gum trees. The effect was a monochromatic vista, occasionally studded by a flamboyant flowering Jacaranda.

The monochrome was made beautiful by the shimmering texture of the leaves.

Driving around Sydney I was struck by the vast number of red brick houses. Everything involving the earth or rock seemed to be red.

The different tones and shades of red were fascinating.

The red brick worked so well with the grey/ green of the eucalypts.

Australia sounded so different to New Zealand. The bird song was beautiful.

The bird song wasn't so beautiful at 5.00am when they all woke up!

The harsh grating Australian accent I was expecting wasn't there, (with the exception of my sister's.) It was a lot softer then I expected. Do they ham it up on television?

Sydney wasn't as culturally diverse as Dunedin.

Fresh prawns are good.

But not as good as fresh corn on the cob, slathered in butter, pepper and salt and scoffed at the market.

Seeing pictures of something doesn't prepare you for the emotional impact of being there, and seeing them with your own eyes and touching them. Mental note to self: take lots of tissues when traveling!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jumping the ditch

I am counting down the days till I finally get to use my passport and get my first steps on Australian soil. Yes folks, sad though it may seem, I am feeling hysterically excited about my first grown up trip overseas! To Australia, or Sydney to be more specific. I have traveled before, to Fiji, when I was two, and eight years old, so that doesn't really count.

So I'm off, kiddy and Hubby free, to a family wedding. I don't know how much of Sydney I will get to see, but hey, I'll be in a foreign place with a strange accent (theirs, not mine), so I can kid myself it's somewhere further than a three hour flight away.

I've packed the important things...

New Frock...check
New shoes...check
Credit card...check.

What else do I need?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Look what arrived...

... in my letterbox...

It's a real book...

And I've been patting the silver lettering...

And lined it up next to its two friends...

Three novels...

Damn chuffed!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Facebook or not to Facebook....

... that is the question.

Facebook is a black hole of time, every one I know who is on it, seems to spend waaay too much time messing around, desperately checking their updates, or playing Waka waka.

Do I even want to go there?

Well no, not really.

But then, I keep getting these invitations. And people tell me it is a great way to network and keep up with what everyone is up to.

They even say it is a great promotional tool for writers, and we all know I'm into shameless self-promotion.

But then I don't want to get sucked into it, and be one of these sad, desperate people constantly checking in case someone has visited.


What's a girl to do?

Opinions, anyone?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tomorrow's radio day

Where does a month go? Honestly, I'm sure it was only last week I was playing with sliders and microphones for the Write On Radio Show. But life seems to be marching on at an alarming rate, and it is that time again.

Write On airs live on Toroa Radio 1575 kHz AM in Dunedin, or is streamed live from the Toroa Radio Website for people who don't live in the centre of my universe.

These are this month's victims, er, I mean guests...

Liam McIlvanney's first fiction novel All the Colours of the Town was released earlier this month. Set in Belfast and Glasgow it follows the fortunes of Glaswegian journalist Gerry Conway as he follows the sniff of a story across to Belfast and discovers hatred and sectarian violence. Liam McIlvanney is a recent arrival to New Zealand from Scotland to take up the Stuart Chair of Scottish studies at the University of Otago. We'll talk about what drove a Robert Burns specialist to write crime, and the picture he paints of the two cities.

Tania Roxborogh is the writer of over twenty books for adults and children and is a woman with a passion for Shakespeare. This passion has lead her to write Banquo's Son, a sequel to Macbeth. We talk about taking over the story of Fleance where The Bard left off, and the journey she has taken to get this book published.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Passionate Prose and Pavlova

October is New Zealand Book Month and on Thursday I got to do my thing at the Dunedin Public Library in an event called Passionate Prose and Pavlova. Naturally, there was pavlova and coffee served, and the guest speaker felt obliged to indulge in a slice or two, for good form's sake.

The Dunedin Public Library is good at shameless self-promotion, so their techie guy was there to record the event for posterity, or the approximation of it that is U-tube. They were only going to record 10 minutes or so, but seemed to think it was going well and decided to do the whole thing.

So for those of you dedicated enough to watch almost an hour's worth, the links are below.

Of course, I didn't go into it realising they were going to do this, so I sit here quietly hoping I didn't say anything either a) stupid, or b) embarrasing or c) defamatory and that I looked OK, didn't pick my nose or scratch anything personal. I haven't watched it as I suffer a bit from I-can't-stand-to-see-myself-itis. There was a little girl chattering away so I hope the sound is OK.

As this is a library event, I spent the initial part of the talk chatting about books that had turned the reading lights on for me as a child, and that influenced me later in life. Then I go on to talk about the importance of setting and place in fiction novels, with a background to why I chose to set my novels in firstly Mataura, and then Dunedin, and also some of the twilight zoneish life imitating art moments that have occurred because of it. I do a reading of the prologue to the fourth Sam Shephard novel, Bound, and then finish up with questions from the audience.

So here t'is divided up into 5 parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Friday, October 9, 2009

Because a girl can't have too many books...

...let me introduce you to a couple of recent arrivals.

I am a big fan of Australian writer Peter Temple and loved his recent novel The Broken Shore. So how could I possibly resist a sequel? Well, it would have been rude not to buy it, wouldn't it? And we all know how big I am on manners. His new offering is titled Truth.

The back cover blurb goes thus:

At the close of a long day, Inspector Stephen Villani stands in the bathroom of a luxury apartment high above the city. In the glass bath, a young woman lies dead.

So begins
Truth, the sequel to Peter Temple's bestselling masterpiece The Broken Shore.

Villani's job as head of the Victoria State Homicide Squad is bathed in blood and sorrow. His life is his work. It is his identity,his calling, his touchstone. But now, over a few sweltering summer days, as fires burn across the state and his superiors and colleagues scheme and jostle, he finds all the certainties of his life are crumbling.

Truth is a novel about a family, a city. It is about violence, murder, love, corruption, honour and deceit.

And it is about truth.

This is moving towards the top of my TBR pile.

My other purchase was spurred on by a review by Karen on Good Reads, and that is Death and the Running Patterer, by Robin Adair. This is a novel set in Sydney in 1828, the running patterer is some one who hawks news on the streets, and Nicodemus Dunne is thus in the perfect position to track down the killer of a soldier.

This book won the Penguin Most Wanted competition, a writing competition where the first prize was a book contract from Penguin. I look forward to it - I do love a historic mystery.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Antipodean Holmesian Society

Sherlock Holmes and his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seem to have as many fans today as they did in their hey-day. There's a new movie coming out soon that I will have to go and see, not just because it is Sherlock Holmes, but also, and I'm going to admit to being horribly shallow here, but I kind of fancy Robert Downey Jnr. Also, while I'm being shallow, the movie posters of him and Jude Law are really quite appealing. Have printed them off for the office wall.

But on more cerebral matters, I discovered, courtesy of my fencing associates the existence of the Antipodean Holmesian Society, which has a monthly newsletter discussing all sorts of tidbits about Sherlock Holmes, from reviews of books pertaining to the man, to locations of statues, to the current concern over the disputed Conan Doyle memorabilia, 40 000 items bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth.

So how could I resist? I sent off my subscription and am now a member.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Home again...

...and I am certain that in the time we were away, the assortment of papers, books, pens, notes, reference material and general crapola on my desk got into the whole spring, new life thing and bred mightily. Because, I swear, there wasn't this much crud on it when I left. And some of it seems to have attempted an escape by diving off onto the floor where it's formed a sort of a paper pond, complete with ripples emanating out from a central splash of trash.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Breath of Snow and Ashes

Greetings from Wanaka, where I was amazed to wake up to find it was snowing this morning! This departure from Spring weather was very, very pretty, if a little chilly and it enhanced the feeling that yes, we're away for a few days holiday.

It was also appropriate that it was snowing when I was reading a book called A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon. I am a fan of her writing, and have read all of her Outlander (or Cross Stitch, depending on where you live) series books. I have had this one a while and had started it, but due to life, had to put it aside for a while. The while turned out to be a few years. Anyway, the impetus to finish it is a looming radio interview with the author early in November. So I need to finish this book, and also read her latest title, An Echo in the Bone. If you have seen these books - they are large, and long - the one I am reading is 980 pages. I can't think of a better way of enjoying my holiday time than luxuriating in the world of Claire and Jamie Fraser for a decent stretch of uninterrupted reading time.

I do have the family with me of course, but have chosen to neglect them in favour of my book - priorities!