Friday, September 28, 2007

Oh, de toilette!

Take a close look at this wedding dress.

It's made not from silk organza or antique French lace. Non, metres and metres of crisp ivory...toilet paper make up this design. Yep, why spend $6,000 on a dress you'll wear once when you can whip up a disposable gown with a $4.99 jumbo pack of Sorbent? All that's missing is a bouquet of cardboard toilet roll cores. I wonder if she's using one of those fragrance blocks as her "something blue." I think it's an amazing dress but I'm just not sold on the fabric.

One thing I am completely head over heels for is a magical new chocolate cafe called San Churro. Today I had the dainty churros with a milk chocolate dipping sauce. Next time, I'm going for the chocolate tapas plate. The cafe is roughly equal distance between my home and office, so I will be haunting it often. My workmates and I have decided we must do a comparative study on Sydney's chocolaterias. Which cafe franchise is best - Lindt, Max Brenner or newcomer San Churro?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Revision Rescue

A few of my writer friends are currently in revision hell. They've locked themselves away, they're feeding on scraps of chocolate, muttering scary words terms "looming deadline" and "contractual obligations." Good luck, gals! (Now, get back to work, you lot.)

I've trawled the Net, looking for quick revision hints:
* Power-Revision Techniques - learn how to add muscle to weak sentences.

* Allen & Unwin's Writing Centre - includes an extract from Kate Grenville's The Writing Book.

* Holly Lisle's One-Pass Manuscript Revision. People have mentioned Holly's method works best on a top-notch first draft (is there really such a thing?). But she has fantastic tips on strengthening an ms. The article's worth a look, as are her revision aftermath pics.

* And, ahem, some unknown, unpublished chick's blog post about revision.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cyber Crimes

Ever been caught talking about someone behind their back, only to find that person was standing behind you listening to the whole rant? Imagine the cyber equivalent, say bagging out your boss in an email and accidentally sending the email to everyone in your company address book. That one email could then be spammed to the entire universe by the day's end.

Or featured in a book.

UK author Chas Newkey-Burden has compiled a whole book full of embarrassing e-correspondence.

I'm no stranger to email and blogging disasters, as some of you know. I wrote an email intended for my sister but it somehow ended up in the inbox of an agent I'd once e-queried. It almost made me want to disconnect from not only broadband but from the world in general. But I can now talk about this "learning experience" without becoming violently ill.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nudge, Nudge

What's the etiquette on prompting agents for a reply if you haven't received an answer to your query? Do you write them a nudge note? Well, most agents will specify a response time on their website/agent listing, so use that as a guide. Some of them will say something to the effect of "Don't call us. We'll call you." Keep writing and querying others in the meantime.

Miss Snark, in her own, inimitable way, gave great advice on this topic. She hates the nudge, but I wonder if she could have resisted this little gem.

Random Writing Tip #2

Random Writing Tip #2 - Patience, young grasshopper
So, what can the not-so-patient writer do whilst waiting for an agent or editor's acceptance?

• Get busy working on the next project.
• Enter writing competitions.
• Volunteer as a contest judge - as well as helping others, you'll learn from them as well.
• Take an online course. Have a look at Writer's Digest’s classes or the affordable workshops by Earthly Charms.
• Enjoy the successes of other writers rather than steeping yourself in jealousy.
• Read widely – both inside and outside of your genre.
• Stop worrying about things you can't control, like how long it'll take for someone to review your book. Just get on with your job.
• Everyone says you have a great imagination. Give yourself a few minutes each day to dream about hitting the big time.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Random Writing Tip #1

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but from time to time I’ll share tips that work for me.

Random Writing Tip #1 - Competition deadlines
I forgot to enter an RWAus comp. Entries were due last Friday. I even had an ms ready, but my wisdom tooth crisis blotted out my memory. (The jury's out on whether the extraction of molars increases or depletes mental capacity - in my case it seems to be the latter.)

If you're forgetful like me, you need bells, whistles and flashing neon lights to keep on top of things. Set your computer's alarm on Outlook, iCal or similar to prod you two weeks before a competition's due-in date.

More hints to come...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Actually, Emily, the heroine of Stephanie Kuehnert's first book wants to be your Joey Ramone. Here's the blurb:

I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE is book about mothers and daughters and about punk rock. Emily Black learned to play guitar even before she learned to tied her shoes. After all, music is a huge part of her life. Just months after Emily is born, her mother Louisa leaves Emily with her father Michael unable to cope with having a child. Michael tells Emily that Louisa went to follow the rise of the punk scene around the country. Emily grows up listening to Louisa's old records and practicing like crazy. She's determined to be a musician who can rock better/faster/harder than the best of them. Because if she is the music, then Louisa will come find her. She'll be drawn to Emily. Right?

I can hear the soundtrack already. I'm so excited for Stephanie that I might have to be sedated.

Stephanie, who just happens to be one of my generous crit partners, is doing a reading this Wednesday, September 5, at Sheffield's in Chicago from 7pm. Go along and see her if you're in the area. I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE will be a June 2008 release through MTV Books.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What My Paper Shredder Taught Me

Within five minutes of plugging in my schmick new paper shredder, I found myself grappling with a tremendous, clumpy jam to end all jams. I don’t know how it happened. Even though the shredder can withstand eight sheets of paper at a time, I fed it five. The instruction manual read, “In the UNLIKELY event of a jam, select reverse.” Very funny. Reverse gear did not help. Ditto for thumping, jerking and wailing. One thing I was not going to do was give up, because I wanted to see the job through. Plus, I loathe taking things back to the store when they don’t work.

Two solid hours and a tub of chocolate mousse later (I’m on a soft-food diet whilst recovering from wisdom tooth extraction), I cleared the machine, using essential writer’s tools like blunt scissors and a jumbo paperclip. I’m back to shredding copies of my first [appalling] ms into neat ribbons.

This seemingly insignificant victory made me think about persistence in the publishing world. When you put your best work out there for submission and get rejections in return, it can bite into your confidence. My good friend and critter Anna Campbell has an article in this month’s RWA Romance Writers Report about writing for the long haul. She interviewed a number of authors who spent ten years or more trying to get published. Anna herself landed a deal 27 years after finishing her first manuscript. She and countless other pubbed authors did not give up. Common threads between these writers? Talent, hard work, a great story, a little bit of luck and a lot of persistence.

Long before Madonna branched out into children’s books, she said, “If you can’t say ‘I’ll die if I don’t do it,’ you shouldn’t do it.” And that’s what I think about when people tell me they’d like to write/publish a book but [insert 1,000 excuses here]. You’ve got to have that drive to keep going. Do not select reverse or neutral. Just think, the more rejections you get, the better you’ll feel when you actually do get a deal, right?

In other news...
The lovely Sara Hantz is celebrating the release of her first book with a blog party. Yay! Post a comment and you could win stuff.