Sunday, November 30, 2008

Please, Mr Postman, Where Are My Golden Heart Entries?

The Golden Heart contest is one of the most important for unpublished romance writers. Each year, the organisers receive about 1,000 entries in 10 different categories. These are whittled down to 100 entries. Acquiring editors at publishing houses judge the finalists, and the winners are announced at a ceremony often dubbed the Oscars for romance writers. In this contest, though, winning isn't everything--many past finalists have gone on to publication as a result of the comp.

This year, I entered two YA manuscripts. I forked out over 200 bucks in entry, stationery and postage fees. ("I'm stimulating the economy," I assured myself.) I airmailed the mss from Australia to the US on November 15. Usually, it takes up to seven days for mail to reach its destination. Plenty of time, I thought, to meet the December 2 deadline. If entries don't make it to RWA's Texas office by then, they're disqualified.

But yesterday, day 14 after mailing, I realised it wasn't looking good for my entries. They still haven't made it. How can this be? Did they get chucked into the seamail postbox instead of the airmail one? Did the plane's pilot make a detour in Tahiti and decide to stay? Or maybe a disgruntled postal worker delivered the mail to the garbage dump.

Ironically, the same thing happened to me about a month ago, when I had to snail-mail my final-round entry for the Golden Pen Award. The preliminary round in that comp is judged by Golden Heart finalists/winners. Somewhere, somehow, my mail went astray.

Whatever the reason, I had to take action this time.

Or rather, my dad did.

He lives in America, so he told me to email my entries and he'd take care of the rest. Despite sore, arthritic fingers and crippling back pain, he stayed up till the early hours of this morning, printed out a whole pine tree's worth of manuscript pages, collated and bound them, burnt my full mss to disks, and sent them off by FedEx. Three cheers for Dad!

Now getting to the final round in the GH means more than ever. It's one way to pay Dad back for helping me out so readily.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Six Degrees of Celluloid

Twelve years ago, when I was a cinema manager, I met visionary director Baz Luhrmann at the premiere screening of Romeo + Juliet. Last night I had one of my recurring cinema nightmares, where I relived the time smoke from nearby bushfires set off the fire alarms and I had to evacuate hundreds of irate patrons several times in one day. Tonight, Luhrmann, Kidman and Jackman (is there a grammatical term for names ending in 'man'?) open their epic film Australia in Sydney. I'll try to overcome my cinema phobia to see it. I just hope I won't need to be evacuated.

I doubt Luhrmann approved this trailer found on YouTube,
but all publicity's good publicity, right?

Tourism Australia commissioned Baz to help entice overseas visitors to our shores
in a new campaign.

Kidman and Luhrmann - together again - for Chanel No. 5.
My favourite piece of classical music, Debussy's Clair de Lune,
underscores this gorgeous ad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick Fiction Fix

If you're an Aussie or a Kiwi reader, you must pick up a copy of this week's Woman's Day magazine. Inside you'll find a delightful historical short story written by my buddy, Anna Campbell. I nabbed my local convenience store's last mag this morning. Be quick!

Here she is with Harlequin Presents author Annie West (left)
at Guildford Library.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stack of Macs

I never considered myself much of a collector...until I cleaned out my study today and realised I have a veritable Apple Mac museum.

At the bottom of the stack is my very first computer, the Apple PowerBook 180. It has a grayscale display and the memory of a calculator. (Okay, it was far more powerful, and one of the best computers you could get at the time.) The keyboard is actually one of the most comfortable I've ever used.

When the Internet age dawned, it was time to upgrade to the black PowerBook G3 made famous by Carrie Bradshaw. My then boyfriend (now husband; you can see why I married him) bought it for me. I'll never forget the day he surprised me with it--he'd opened a Word doc and typed the immortal phrase, "Meanwhile, downtown..." I started and finished my first novel on that computer.

Fortunately, I never suffered the motherboard problems Carrie endured. But then the little white iBook G4 laptops came along. They were far more alluring than a pair of Manolos. At this stage, I was struggling with a repetitive strain injury and had to use voice recognition software. The old PowerBook just didn't have enough RAM to run the program. On the iBook I wrote my second, third and fourth books.

And then came the aluminium (aluminum, for those of you in the US) MacBook, pictured at the top. I'm hoping to get a few more novels out of this little beauty.

I'm off to work on book six, but I'll leave you with more pics from the collection.

Oldest to youngest.

Mr Authorness's MacBook Pro (second from the right) joined the line-up for this one.

They just look so pretty from all angles, don't they?