February already!

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Hermie assisting with my Instagram bookshoot…

Um yes, so about keeping up those blog posts… no, it hasn’t been as frequent as I’d like.

Well, it doesn’t matter, I’m here now and keeping busy enough 🙂

I’ve got my manuscript, ‘Inside Out’ back from some lovely beta readers who were both complimentary and practical in their advice. The best part was that they empathised with my very shy MC, Allie, and loved her friend Izzie, which is exactly what I wanted.

I did a workshop with the amazing Nicole Hayes on getting your manuscript moving – it was both inspiring & a reminder of how much work I need to do on the structure and to incorporate some things that my beta readers have mentioned.

On that point, I’ll be removing some embarrassingly dated items as I first started this manuscript over twenty years ago. A few small things have changed in technology since then. One of which is that most of the magazines we used to read in secondary school (such as Dolly and Cleo) are now only available online.

Once I’ve made those changes to my manuscript and re-worked the synopsis, I aim to start querying it with agents – wish me luck!

Apart from writing on and off, I read 72 books last year and I’m aiming for 80 this year, including some non-fiction which I’m not good at reading for some reason. I need that narrative flow to keep me going, it seems.

I’m doing a #LoveOzYAChallenge on Instagram for February, so 28 days of choosing an Aussie YA title to match the daily challenge: today’s was ‘Country Towns’ so I picked a verse novel by Steven Herrick, ‘By The River’, about two brothers growing up in a claustrophobically-small town.

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The author Amie Kaufman (L) launching Nicole Hayes’ (R) latest YA novel, ‘A Shadow’s Breath’

Last Friday night I attended the launch of Nicole Hayes’ third YA novel, ‘A Shadow’s Breath’. It’s always inspirational to hear writers talk about their ideas and the work that they put in, and also the incredible support they receive from family, friends and the book community, especially other authors. It was lovely to catch up with people like Shivaun Plozza, author of ‘Frankie’, and Ellie Marney, author of the ‘Every’ series, plus meet others in the YA community for the first time IRL (‘In Real Life’ – see, I’m learning from the kids, ha).

And next Friday we’re flying across the country to my nephew’s wedding in WA for only 3 days – I think I may take the laptop for the several hours’ drive south from Perth to Augusta. It’s a long trip but so much fun to catch up with family – there’s at least ten of us travelling on the same flight from Melbourne 🙂

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Family portrait – spot the second cat!

We’ll miss all the pets but a very good friend is house-sitting and I suspect she’s going to enjoy spoiling them as much as they’ll enjoy being spoilt!

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Season’s Greetings

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Tillie reckons it’s too hot to be wearing Santa hats.

Hello anyone who’s still reading my very infrequent posts! I will try to do a little more next year – the idea was to cut down on blogging, not stop altogether 😉 But at least I’m doing more with my WIP (Works in Progress – should that be WsIP?) so that is a good thing!

 

 

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Izzie knows she looks cute in this, so she’s prepared to at least look at the camera.

Apart from that, real-life work has increased in business and therefore busyness this year, which is of course good and bad. So the writing is being done in short bursts after work and sometimes on the train on the way to various book gatherings. And in between reading, which is essential for improving my writing, but also a massive distraction… I will have read at least 70 books this year, by the end of this week.

 

 

For now I’d just like to say happy holidays to everyone around the world and best wishes for 2017 for whatever your passion. Thank you for reading and I will endeavour to catch up on reading your own blogs very soon 🙂

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Elvis and Hermie are also not keen to pose in the heat.

 

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Dog humour

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Taylor grinning (most likely she was impatiently waiting for her ball to be thrown)

Have you ever wondered if dogs have a sense of humour? I’ve always thought they do.

My old dog Taylor, a smart Kelpie x Border Collie with a big personality, loved playing games with us. One was hide and seek with me around the front entrance of my parents’ place, where you could circle from the little foyer into the dining room, the lounge room and back into the foyer. We’d try to outwit each other – she knew to look up to catch my movement through the glass window between the foyer and dining room.

So of course I would try to duck, which slowed me down… and she was usually too quick for me. The couple of times I managed to creep up behind her, she was poised in a crouch, absolutely quivering with anticipation, trying to work out where I was. It was rare to catch her, but when I did, she jumped on me like a little kid, with a doggy expression that’s only equivalent to laughter in humans.

She also had a rubber doughnut toy that was her great love indoors. One of her favourite games was to lay it on the couch beside one of us, then wait, eyes glued to the doughnut. When we’d reach for it, she’d leap in and snatch it away just in time, then prance around flipping it in the air, ears back against her head and eyes shining with the joy of having outplayed us yet again. Again, her form of laughing.

Tillie, our big German Shepherd/Malamute/Mastiff-or-something cross, plays chicken with us on the oval. The look on her face is pure devilment as she bores down on us at a gallop, feinting and dodging aside just in time. Then there’s the playful dance around us, the ‘gotcha’ moment. She also entertains herself by scaring our chickens, suddenly bounding at them so they explode into flustered squawks. She never actually chases them, just walks off afterwards with a facial expression that can only be described as smug and satisfied.

Dogs express a lot of emotions and feelings – excitement, love, anticipation, fear, dislike, anger, pain, hate, shame, boredom. No, I don’t think this is being anthropomorphic (people seeing human characteristics in animals). You’ll be nodding along with all of the above feelings if you’ve spent enough time with dogs.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why so many humans love dogs, apart from their guarding abilities or their many other attributes which are useful to us (guiding, finding, rescuing, fetching, etc). Not only can we be ourselves and show all our emotions in front of them, but we can share their emotions too. Apart from the big welcome home, or the affectionate smooch, or the snuggle when you’re feeling sad or ill, there may also be a shared moment of humour. It’s a wonderful thing 🙂

Has your dog ever displayed a funny side? I’d love to hear about it!

Below is a video from three years ago when Tillie was a little more energetic and a lot rougher in play (don’t worry, Elvis is a tough little guy!):

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100 words to 64,000

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Izzie assisting with the writing process.

Well, the 100 words a day was a success! I changed it to writing 200 words a day, mostly on my manuscript, with a daily reminder in my phone so I couldn’t just forget. I achieved that target most days. Often I did much more that 200 words. So yes, it can work – I’ve finished a draft of Inside Out, my second YA novel 🙂

I can highly recommend this method for writers who are strapped for time, or who (like me) constantly tell themselves they’ll set aside a day to write, then find themselves achieving nothing except procrastinational housework and the rearranging of their desks.

Inside Out is now about 64,000 words and is cohesive enough for me to have sent it out to four beta readers this week. Now I’m working on the dreaded synopsis, blurb and tagline.

Here’s the tagline: Bullied horribly, the shy, clumsy daughter of sports stars refuses to attend PE classes – and finds herself on stage instead. 

instagramcapture_ade03c35-21da-4c9d-81fe-fecf4a552c17_jpgIn other bookish news, I enjoyed myself attending a few events during the Melbourne Writers Festival, including the launch of Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue, a lovely book about losing and finding love and letters in a secondhand bookshop. Fiona Wood and Simmone Howell introduced the book, and Cath is a warm and humble author who happily signed books and chatted. I love that the launch of an eagerly awaited novel by one of Australia’s best YA authors had plates of homemade food from herself and a couple of the other writers!

I’ve also joined a monthly brunch with other YA readers that’s very enjoyable, discussing (with much fervour) what we’ve been reading while brunching (my favourite meal of the day). Except for the part where wiring started burning and smoking in the cafe last Sunday… hopefully that cafe is still there for next month’s meeting 😉

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Elvis and Tillie find a really good scent

The animals have been featuring on Instagram between all the book posts. I’d ask their opinion on this, but I suspect they don’t care at all apart from the treats and attention they receive during photo taking!

Tillie, at 13, is struggling a bit with her arthritis, and we’re a little worried at how she’ll cope with summer coming up. But her treatment and medication are going well, and she’s still happy, loving and extremely interested in her food and walks, so that’s a good sign to say the least.

Other than that, I’ve recovered from an operation on my right middle finger which was just day surgery to remove a benign lump. As it turns out, the lump was growing in an artery. No wonder it hurt! So my whole hand was bandaged for two weeks to allow it to heal, and while I had two weeks off, it was a bit restricted (no driving, difficult showering and um, toileting, plus one-handed typing – with my weaker hand). I highly appreciate having the use of both hands, that’s for sure.

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Time to find more bookshelf space

And spring is well on its way here in Melbourne, with lots of rain which is a change to the past… well, fifteen years, really. It’s nice to have all the green and growth right now, but it doesn’t bode well for bushfire season this summer. Hopefully everyone will be on the ball and keeping paddocks, bush and weeds under control.

Well, I’m off to do a little more writing, and then reading before bed. I’ve achieved my Goodreads goal of 50 books already this year, so another three months should add a few more. I haven’t read this much for years – I discovered it just takes some practice to get back into it. And it’s doing my own writing a world of good.  Tonight I’m beta-reading a draft of a YA manuscript for one of my beta readers – it’s fantastic and very funny so far!

Hope you’re all well, and what are you reading yourselves?

 

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REPOST: Review: ‘Coming of Age’ at Melbourne Writers Festival — Liz McShane

A re-post of Liz McShane’s great review of a fantastic session  🙂

It was great to be back at Melbourne Writers Festival this year, particularly given there was a series of panels devoted to YA. The panels were grouped under the umbrella of ‘Eye on YA’. I attended ‘YA Superstars’, ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘Fantasy Fiction’. The standout event for me was ‘Coming of Age’. ‘Coming of […]

via Review: ‘Coming of Age’ at Melbourne Writers Festival — Liz McShane

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Antiheroines to the rescue

I had a great opportunity to be interviewed by Belinda Crawford, indie author of the Hero Rebellion series. Belinda has been running occasional interviews with writers who have created antiheroines, those fabulous females who run against the grain.  They’re not good girls, but often they do good in their own inimitable ways.

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Noomi Rapace played Lisbeth Salander in the movies.

One of my favourites (and most unique) would be Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium trilogy of books by Stieg Larsson. She was so badly damaged and antisocial, yet was highly intelligent, utterly determined and protective of vulnerable people.

My character Carly, in my Young Adult novel Facing Up, is an antiheroine in her own way, grumpy and antisocial but trying to deal with the guilt eating away at her. Below is a link to Belinda’s website where she has interviewed me about  writing Carly, so please click if you’re interested:

http://belindacrawford.com/

Who’s your favourite antiheroine from books or movies?

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The Aussie YA Blog Hop – some #LoveOzYA recommendations

Aussie YA Blog Hop Banner

This is something a bit different for me, but it’s a subject that’s close to my heart 🙂

This week, the Aussie YA Bloggers Group is sharing the #LoveOzYA love across the blogosphere by talking about their favourite Aussie YA (Young Adult) reads!

Thank you to the group moderators: Happy IndulgenceGenie in a Book, Loony Literate, Thoughts by J and My Life in Books – please drop in on their blogs as well.

Join our Twitter chat on Sunday 14 August at 6pm on #AusYABlogChat and @AusYABloggers!

What I love about Aussie YA: It’s pretty damn diverse, often quirky and surprising and out there, and umm, just so AUSSIE in flavour! It’s so important for us to read our own stories and voices, as well as reading about other cultures.

Favourite Aussie YA authors: Sooo many… Melina Marchetta, Vikki Wakefield, Fiona Wood, Kirsty Eagar, for a start.

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Melina Marchetta’s debut novel, now an Aussie classic

The Aussie YA book I grew up with: As I’m a little older than most of the bloggers in the group, I’d have to say Robin Klein’s books, particularly Came Back to Show You I Could Fly. In those days it was mostly US stuff, like Judy Blume and the Sweet Valley High books, so it was a revelation to read about Aussie teenagers. There definitely wasn’t the variety back then that we have now.

Favourite Aussie YA book released in 2016: Ask an easier question, please! For now, I’ll pick this one: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar was sexy, smart and on point with its subject of sexual inequality between genders, set on an Aussie university campus. One day we won’t need to have books dealing with this subject – I hope!

Aussie YA Debut I’m looking forward to: Yellow by Megan Jacobson. I know, it came out in February this year, and I still haven’t read it and don’t even own it yet! But I’ve read all the other debuts I was excited about, so it will happen, soon 😉

Favourite Aussie YA series: Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden. Yep, a common favourite, but it’s what young Aussies need to read. Happily most Aussie-born kids don’t know what it’s like to live in a war zone, and this series made us think about what would happen if we were invaded. And it made us cry. A lot.

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A must-read for Aussie teens

Unexpected Aussie YA surprise: Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie. Not sure what I was expecting, but Clancy (she’s a she) is just so endearingly quirky and awkward. She knows what she wants but is scared to get it, considering the narrow-minded small town she lives in. And it’s more Aussie in flavour than a lamington 😉

Aussie YA Book I always recommend to others: Stay With Me by Maureen McCarthy. This hasn’t had huge publicity, perhaps because Maureen hasn’t got an online presence, but it’s an intense read about a young woman trying to leave an abusive relationship. With toddler in tow. It’s perhaps more NA than YA, given the older MC, but it explains how a smart-enough girl can find herself unable to escape a once-charming boyfriend. Ugh, makes me shiver just writing this…

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An Aussie YA book on my TBR: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn. I’ve only read one of Claire’s so far (The Protected) and I’m really looking forward to this!

Recommending my favourite Aussie YA Bloggers! Emily at The Loony Literate always makes me laugh and think! And the lovely Michelle at The Unfinished Bookshelf for her book recs 🙂

CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE BLOG HOP VIA HAPPY INDULGENCE 🙂

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