Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nostalgic Computer Games

Check out this cute new video clip for the Model School's new single, 'It's Hard to Dance When Your Legs Are On Fire'. Brings back memories of those early computer games, don't it?

The brains behind the band, Brendan Wixted, egged me on to go viral with the clip. I'm actually suffering from a flu virus of some sort right now, but rest assured you won't catch that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Home Is Where the Arrrgghh Is

Forgive me being a sporadic blogger of late. We're in the middle of renovating our lovely old terrace house and the place is a shambles. To wit...

This is what our kitchen looked like about about a week ago. Sure, it wasn't great to start with. We'd bought the place half-renovated.

But if you thought that was bad, take a look at it now. Here's what it looked like on the weekend. We built a new roof over the old one and now we're in the process of demolition:

And some day, we hope we'll end up with this when renovations are complete:

 So what's keeping you busy at the moment?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around...and Around...and Around

Today I received an email begging people to adopt two adorable Labradors, Cookie and Coco. In the email, the owner said she was moving overseas and couldn't take the doggies with her. The pair had to be re-homed together because they couldn't bear to be apart. The story tugged at my heart strings, especially since I've been watching episodes of the harrowing 'Animal Cops: Houston' nonstop for the past week.

The email included a note from the last person who sent it which gave me the impression Cookie and Coco belonged to her "father's friend." So I forwarded it to a few people who might be able to help. I felt a little niggle, though, 'cause I've been burned by sob story emails that turned out to be hoaxes. But then I thought, "Why would anyone send phony emails about animals in peril?" The story seemed so sincere, and just look at these gorgeous, soon-to-be-homeless faces.

I thought about the whole thing a bit longer after telling my friends, then I decided to google the contact email addy given in the email. All the results came up with variations of "The Cookie and Coco saga is a big fat hoax!" Grrrrr!

Why would anyone waste time circulating this **** if it isn't true?

Well, it turns out the story was true once upon a time--a real-life Lab pair were indeed in need of adoptive parents and they did find the right home. They're living happily ever after according to reports. Now spammers have gotten hold of the story and I suspect they're collecting addresses from the kind people who respond to the cry for help. God knows what they're doing with that info.

Anyway, the point is if you get a sob story email, google it first! Or check out this rumour-busting site.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review News

At the We Love YA blog, we have a lovely benefactor who sends us piles of YA books to review. It's like Christmas! Go on over to the blog and check out what Natalie Hatch and Diane Curran have to say about Banquo's Son and Thirteen Reasons Why, respectively.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3), I'll have an interview with Melbourne writer Gabrielle Williams about her book Beatle Meets Destiny. Dash off a comment and you could win a copy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh, No! Where Did My Website Go?

I seem to have lost my website. Temporarily, I hope. This, people, is what you get for fooling around with your Web host's settings. Let's hope I find a solution soon...

The website's back. Hallelujah! I don't know what I did wrong, but I'm not gonna do it again.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Trailer Queen of New Zealand

Clever Amanda Ashby got her family involved in the making of her new book trailer for The Zombie Queen of Newbury High. Check it out:

If you haven't read the novel yet, do it! Run to the shops like you're being chased by drooling zombies! One of my local bookstores, Better Read Than Dead, rated Zombie Queen a staff pick. (They have such good taste over there.) The book's fast-paced and very, very funny. Amanda even makes the zombies lovable in their own way.

One of the perks of being a zombie queen
is that you get to ride around in limos.
And one of the perks of knowing a zombie queen
is that you might be lucky enough to tag along with her!
This was our ride from San Francisco airport in 2008.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Goin' Loopy

Attention all Romance Writers of Australia members who write and/or are interested in YA fiction--a new Yahoo email loop has formed. To join, visit this link and click on Join This Group.

A great success story about an Aussie writer has surfaced. Rebecca James sold her first book, Beautiful Malice, to Bantam USA for a six-figure sum. On top of that, numerous lucrative foreign rights have been sold already. Read the Wall Street Journal article about her here.

Remember the trailer I did for Anna Campbell? It was my first attempt at doing anything trailer-like. If you like it, you can vote for it at You Gotta Read Reviews. Voting closes three days from now. I'm too chicken to look at the other entrants' trailers just yet. Don't forget to buy Anna's book--it goes on sale in North America at the end of this month.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Who's There?

You might see this trick or treater knocking at your door this Halloween:

Friday, October 16, 2009


Today's going to be busy! I'm holding down the day job, demolition at the house and not one, not two but THREE blog posts (including this one!).

Over at We Love YA right now, I'm talking about teen idols. Later today, my inaugural post at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood goes up. I'm talking about the Golden Heart and whether or not you should enter a "controversial" manuscript. I'd love your opinions, so please come over and visit me!

Annie West sent me this link about Harlequin Teen partnering up with the ABC Family TV channel in the US. So far, four Harlequin Teen books are slated to tie in with episodes of the Greek series.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Trailer Mash

I'm probably the last person on earth to catch on to trailer mash-ups. I don't care. The people who did these re-edits are geniuses.

Scary Mary Poppins

The Shining - the feel-good comedy of the year

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - thrills a minute!

Brokeback to the Future

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Made This!

Instead of working on my wip, I decided to make a book trailer for my dear friend Anna Campbell, seeing as she's got a book coming out later this month. Mind you, this trailer's verrrry basic and I couldn't use the song I'd adapted for it thanks to my law-abiding DH, who works in music copyright. But it's not too bad, if I may so myself! It's amazing what you can achieve while procrastinating, isn't it?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Blatant Selfless Promotion

The Model School, a band my husband is in, has released a FREE digital download of their new single, 'It's Hard to Dance When Your Legs Are On Fire'. (Indeed it is.)

Click here to download.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Dawn

Hyde Park, Sydney - about 5:50am

Well, I woke up this morning and thought I'd astro-travelled to Mars overnight. Gusty winds blanketed Sydney with red dust from some faraway desert locale. Even the inside of my train was coated in dust. I got to work a little late after taking a few photos of the phenomenon. You can see more piccies on my photo gallery.

The Sydney Morning Herald said: "It may look like Doomsday, but the causes of today's storm are relatively prosaic.

"Tiny particles lifted from the desert in South Australia are wafted high into the air and carried east. The ruddy haze is caused by sunlight refracting through iron-rich dust.

"If it were possible to scrape the film of dust coating outdoor surfaces across Sydney together into a heap, it would probably weigh something like 1,000 tonnes."
The war memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Put On Your Red Shoes!

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood (aka the 2009 Golden Heart finalists) blog has landed! Come and celebrate our launch, which was cleverly timed to coincide with the day entries for the 2010 Golden Heart opened. We've got goodies to give away and a grand prize of critiques.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Website Relaunch

I’ve just returned from a magical visit to Holland and France. I needed a change of scenery at home, too, so I revamped my website. I’ll be adding things regularly. I may even make-over the place every week!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guest-Blogging at RWAustralia

Romance Writers of Australia has put out the welcome mat for me at their official blog. I'm blogging today about my whirlwind Golden Heart experience.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Writing Contest

Hey, I'm back from Washington, DC, where I was up for a Golden Heart Award for best unpubbed YA manuscript. Big congrats to lovely Shoshana Brown, who won our category!

I'm still dreadfully jet-lagged and will some day blog about my experience o/s (hopefully before it gets lost in my sieve-like brain). But to prove the whole thing wasn't a dream, Joanne Lockyer sent me this photo taken on the awards night. (That's the brilliant Simone Elkeles on stage announcing my name.)

A new writing competition just opened for Australian writers. The prize is a book deal with Scribe Publications + $12,000. The catch/es - the entrant has to be 35 or over (refreshing!) and the book must not be under consideration by any other publishers or contests. An entry form and more info can be found here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Things to Come

On Friday, July 10 at the We Love YA blog, some of my fellow YA finalists in the 2009 Golden Heart Awards are popping by to talk about their nominated manuscripts. Leave a comment over at We Love YA for your chance to win a copy of HEARTBREAK RIVER, by 2007 GH winner Tricia Mills (aka Trish Milburn). Trish had the happy task of ringing each of us back in March to tell us we had finaled.

One of my dear critique partners, Stephanie Kuehnert, is gearing up for this month's release of her sophomore book, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. In this powerful story, the main character, Kara struggles to find a way to cope when her family breaks down and friendships go awry. Steph has a very personal story to tell about what inspired her to write the book here.

And in other news...

One of my other dear CPs, Anna Campbell, features in the Sunday Telegraph's Sunday Magazine supplement today. The article talks about how romance novels are back in fashion and that the women who write them aren't stereotypical, champagne-swilling, bon-bon-eating, feather-boa-wearing hacks. (Although, I'm partial to champagne and chocolate, so the cliche is not far off in my case.) They're smart, savvy, and enthralling millions of readers. Overall, it's a nice article that acknowledges the good work of our nation's internationally bestselling romance authors.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Harlequin Teen

It's always good to hear about new YA imprints popping into the market. The latest one that's generating a bit of chatter is the upcoming Harlequin Teen line. Senior Editor Natashya Wilson is currently acquiring. She considers both agented and unagented submissions. Forearmed is forewarned, so I've gathered up a few links relating to the line, which launches this August with Rachel Vincent's paranormal MY SOUL TO TAKE.
In other news...
There's still heaps of time to comment at We Love YA and win a copy of Dee White's absorbing new YA, LETTERS TO LEONARDO.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Join me on Sunday, June 28 at my other blog home, We Love YA, when Walker Books author Dee White drops by as part of her cybertour.

In Dee's latest YA, LETTERS TO LEONARDO, fifteen-year-old Matt dreams of being an artist, just like his late mother. But when his supposedly dead mum sends him a birthday card, Matt’s life becomes as complicated as a Pollock painting. He finds solace in writing to the only person who could possibly understand what he's going through - Leonardo da Vinci.

Dee's got a spooky story for us to kick off our dream theme this week. Be sure to comment at We Love YA for your chance to win a copy of LETTERS TO LEONARDO.

In other news, my fab critique partner, Stephanie Kuehnert, is just weeks away from launching her second novel for MTV Books, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. It’s an intense read about a bunch of kids whose stories resemble a ballad. The choruses echo mistakes they make again and again, while in the verses they try to make sense of it all. In July, I'll be guest blogging at Steph's place, and you could win new music and a T-shirt from one of my fave bands. Please check back for an exact date.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

News Fix

When I uploaded this unofficial and perhaps illegal Blogger template, I lost all my favourite publishing and author links. One day I'll get round to putting them back up again, but for now, check out author Tricia Mills's regular YA news and reviews column over at Romance Novel TV. Click here to get your news fix.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Accidents Will Happen

A TV production crew for a series about paramedics recently did a shoot in and around my office building. We watched a ground-shaking explosion with real flames, extras stumbling along with fake blood streaming into their eyes, and stuntmen leaping off rooftops.

Which brings me to unplanned, unrehearsed stunts - those that occur in everyday life. For anybody who's tumbled down a set of stairs, you are not alone. I've done it, and so has this poor model in the video. Note the inauspicious number stamped on her briefcase.

Have you ever performed unplanned stunt work, and were you glad it wasn't televised?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

12 Small Steps for Mankind

My lovely friend Murray is travelling throughout North America right now. He spotted this sign in Las Vegas:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

All For a Good Cause

NYT bestselling author Brenda Novak is hosting her annual Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research. My late stepmother suffered diabetes, so Brenda's legendary auction is close to my heart.

How does it work? Well, it's a bit like any other online auction. You pick out a tantalising item, place a bid, and if you're the highest bidder by the closing date, the item's yours. Categories are geared toward both readers and writers.

My agent, Robin Rue of Writers House, is giving away an evaluation of a book proposal - with a one-week response time - to the highest bidder. Read all the details here.

Robin's uber assistant, Beth Miller, also has a crit on offer. I owe Beth so much. She plucked my query from the inbox of an agent who'd left the agency, and passed my work on to Robin. Now she reads draft after draft of my manuscripts and always has sage advice. Love her to bits, I do.

From Historical author Anna Campbell, one of my fabulous CPs and a double-RITA finalist, you could win a detailed critique of a partial ms. Now, Anna has really helped me come a loooong way as a writer since we met in 2002. I know she'll modestly deny this, but she's responsible for taking me from first-round contest flunkee to Golden Heart finalist. Place your bid now!

Author Mari Mancusi (of BOYS THAT BITE fame) is offering a 30-page YA manuscript critique. Check her out her auction page here.

You can also bid for appraisals from senior editors at major publishers, autographed books, a one-night stay at Nora Roberts's new Maryland inn (which her publicist told me about at last year's San Fran conference!) - items on offer are mind-boggling.

Happy bidding!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The New Three 'R's: Reading, Writing and Recession

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that reading is a "low-cost escape from the recession." People are being more careful about spending, they're less extravagant, and thankfully they're rediscovering relatively cheap entertainment in the form of books.

What are people reading to take their minds off the new three 'R's? A fourth 'R', actually. An interesting article popped up in the New York Times on how, in this economic climate, romance novels are outselling other genres.

Vampire books are not dead--at least in Australia. Stephenie Meyer alone seems to be propping up sales.

Do you have any clever ideas on low-cost or no-cost entertainment to keep your mind off the global financial crisis? Has the GFC influenced your buying decisions?

Oh, and a HUGE shout out to my CP and good friend Stephanie Kuehnert, whose first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, has been nominated in the YA category of OKRWA's National Reader's Choice Awards! Well deserved, I might say! Good luck, Steph!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Retail Therapy

In case you haven't heard me moaning on Facebook and Twitter, I am sick with an annoying cold. I've spent the last couple of days seeking treatment at UK-based online bookseller The Book Depository. They may not yet have the range my other haunt has, but they do offer FREE DELIVERY anywhere in the world and I'm told their service is quick.

So I added inches to my YA TBR pile with HEARTBREAK RIVER by Tricia Mills, INVISIBLE TOUCH by Kelly Parra (who recently signed a film option for her first book, GRAFFITI GIRL), WHAT WOULD EMMA DO? by Eileen Cook and MISS MATCH by Wendy Toliver.

This is in addition to the books I bought at bricks'n'mortar stores during the contagious phase of my cold - TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitch Smith and POLAR BOY by Sandy Fussell.

I really have to hold back now, 'cause the commenters over at the We Love YA blog gave me a ton of recommendations and I want to read them all.

Which books have you bought lately? Are you actively buying books to keep the sellers and authors in business?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Group Hug!

This past week has been a blur of work, chocolate and work. And I've been very remiss in telling you there's a new group blog in town - a blog I belong to. We launched We Love YA on Monday. By "we" I mean a fab group of Australian & New Zealand YA writers - Amanda Ashby, Diane Curran, Kiki Lon, Natalie Hatch, Sara Hantz and me. There's still time to catch Amanda's first post and win yourself a copy of her ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH.

On Good Friday, join me for an interview with Walker Books Australia publisher Sarah Foster, who'll tell us about the market on this end of the planet. Post a comment there for your chance to win a book by CBCA Book of the Year nominee, Sandy Fussell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gold Rush!

I am having a very shiny, golden birthday week. The lovely Trish Milburn phoned me at work this morning with the amazing news that I'm a Golden Heart finalist for best unpublished manuscript in the YA category. (Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!)

If you followed this post on my postal debacle, you'll understand how much this means to me. Without my dad backing me up, my entry might not have made it to the RWA office in time, so to be among the finalists after all that drama is surreal.

Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the YA field: Amanda Brice, Elizabeth C. Langston, Addison Fox and Shoshana Dawn Brown. I'm told we're all in for a golden ride until the awards ceremony in July. I'll be saving all my gold coins so I can make it to Washington, DC.

I'm also soooo happy that my good friends Christine Wells (Historical) and Tina Ferraro (YA) have finalled in the RITA Award for published authors. Both of these mega talents so deserve to be recognised.

What's your good news for the week?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Renovate or Detonate

Mr Authorness and I currently renovating our lovely 19th-century terrace house. Like many houses of this vintage, the ground level has a lean-to addition, built generations ago to accommodate a large family. We're systematically ripping this eyesore down. I can't wait to attack the old bathroom with a sledgehammer. It's tiled in five shades of brown, and we suspect the caramel-coloured bathtub was installed directly over a dirt floor back in the '70s. To me, it's the worst bathroom in the developed world. But I shouldn't complain, because the cliche really is true--there's always someone worse off than you:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Cult of the Zombies

The super talented and hilarious Amanda Ashby is having a monster blog bash to celebrate the release of her second book, THE ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH.

She very kindly invited me to guest-blog over at her place this week. You can catch me there on Friday if you're in the Northern Hemisphere or Saturday for those Down Under. (I think that's right. The whole time diff thing is so confusing!) Please come along, comment and win stuff! Actually, you should visit Amanda's blog every day for the next week and catch up with some amazing YA authors.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Feet?

I have never had a professional pedicure. I'm not ashamed. My toes aren't hairy or scary, I promise. And after watching this pedicure procedure, it's unlikely I'll ever go to a salon where the employees are fish.

This kind of reminds me of Flintstones technology (you know, dinosaurs that double as vacuum cleaners and bulldozers) but a million times creepier. If you live in Florida, relax, 'cause the state's Board of Cosmetology has just banned so-called Dr Fish from practising.

I love how the woman in the video says it's like getting a massage. Hmm, I've never been nibbled on at a salon, but I guess I've led a sheltered life. Do you have a spa war story to share?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fire and Water

Koala facts:

* There are normally approximately 80,000 koalas in the Australian wild. About 15,000 live in the southern states, which have been devastated by fires.

* Koalas normally have a slow metabolic rate and sleep up to 16 hours a day.

* These marsupial mammals are normally most active just after sunset.

* They normally eat up to 500 grams (over one pound) of eucalyptus leaves each day. The high water content in these leaves means koalas rarely drink.

But this koala's normal life, like so many others, has just been turned upside down:

The firefighter in the pic, David Tree, said Sam the koala chugged three bottles of water. "I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck. She just plonked herself down, as if to say 'I'm beat'," Mr Tree said. "The most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that."

The Herald Sun newspaper is selling this photo for $20. All proceeds go to the Country Fire Authority. Click here for details.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Victorian firestorm

Many of us here in Australia are reeling over the devastation caused by a huge firestorm sweeping through rural areas in the state of Victoria. It's estimated the human death toll will reach 200--it currently stands at 131. Countless livestock and wildlife have also been killed or injured. Adding to the grief is the suspicion that some fires were deliberately lit.

The government has pledged immediate financial help to victims of the fires, but you can also assist by donating.

Click here to donate to Wildlife Victoria.

According to Yahoo7, Bendigo Bank and the Red Cross are accepting donations. Or you can make a pledge at any Bunnings hardware store or at National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank or ANZ bank branches.

Photo: Mick Tsikas/Reuters as seen in the New York Times.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fur Cryin' Out Loud

It's summertime here and my cats are shedding like crazy. I've vacuumed up at least a kilo of fur this week alone. Shame on me for throwing it all away - I could've made a handbag or a sweater out of the stuff, just like this enterprising pet owner:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Word!

It's been a month since I last blogged. Time flies when you're having fun writing a book!

Well, to be honest, the last hundred pages of the book was quite a struggle. The 40C/104F temperatures didn't help. I finished it at 3am last Tuesday morning and now I actually miss hanging out with the characters. Not to worry--I'll be revising it soon.

Until recently, I never thought about using a word processor other than Microsoft Word. Apart from a few confounding niggles, Word is easy to use. But what I found when writing the last book is that I had a pile of separate research documents and I wrote many scenes out of order every time I got stuck. I also had alternative versions of chapters, a number of synopses, inspirational pictures, character sketches, "what if?" scenarios, etc, etc. After a while, my system became chaotic. What I really wanted was to have all the files related to the ms in one document, with easy access. I didn't want to have a million windows open at once.

[Here's where I go into infomercial mode. Sorry.]

So, after a bit of searching, I found a brilliant piece of writing software for Macs called Scrivener. You create one file for a project and stick every bit of information related to it in subfolders within that project. Then you can get on with writing the book. Once you've done that, export the book to Word where it is magically formatted to industry standards. Almost. I found I can't get the mandated 25 lines per page after exporting, so there's a bit of finessing to do in that department.

You can read all about it here, and if you like what you see, download a 30-day trial version for FREE. The full version is US$39.95. If you don't have a Mac, you can check out a program for PCs called Page 4.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

The photos I took were beyond pathetic, so here's a couple of great shots from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Last year, I wrote down a bunch of New Year resolutions and I'm amazed that I actually stuck to most...some...okay, one of them. In 2009, I resolve to:

- Not ruin my gym efforts by rewarding myself with gelato or croissants or chocolate (sometimes all three on the same day).
- Buy motion-sickness tablets so I can read books when commuting on the train.
- Not get mad at self on days when I can only manage to write half a page.
- Limit visits to the Internet: 15-minute blocks every two hours. (Ha! We'll see how long that lasts!)
- Keep my desktop (both virtual and physical) tidy.

That shouldn't be too hard, now, should it?