Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pegasus, Robin McKinley (Oh the cruelty!)

Recently, at the library, as I was running around after two small, giggling and squealing hooligans,futilely trying to say the library's not the place for tiggy, I snatched up a book by one of my very very favouritest authors. 
I've known it was out for awhile, as the reviews I had glanced at hadn't been that enthusiastic and I was scared of being disappointed. 
I wasn't disappointed. In Pegasus, Robin McKinley made up another rich and wonderful world, another likeable, dog-loving, horse-loving (in this case more Pegasus loving)heroine, and two more rich and dense cultures. The main character Sylvi, was a delight to spend time with, and her bond-mate and best friend the black Pegasus, Ebon, who introduces her to his elegant and graceful culture had all the best qualities of a teenager - playfulness, inventiveness, lack of ceremony. 
For the time I was reading I was totally immersed and interruptions found me blinking and confused. 
As usual the writing was descriptive and warm and all too easy to be lost in. There was wonder. There were sections that just made my heart sing and soar.
It wasn't until I was reaching the end of the book that I began to twig to the fatal flaw. 
There weren't that many pages to go and yet nothing had really been resolved - it seemed like a climax had been built to - but not enough words left to fix everything in a way that was... fulfilling. 
Frowning began. Both at the thought of the book ending (Nooooo!) and that... I didn't see how the resolution could be crammed in. 
So I did some rapid googling... and discovered there would be no resolution. The story had been cut in half (McKinley doesn't believe in sequels so it's 'one story in two books') and ... this is the killer -
- The next book is not due out till 2014. 
That's right folks. 
So yeah. 
Much as I loved it. 
(And I did, I did I did! I will re-read it again very very soon. And then re-read it and then put it on my too-be-reread every year list) It was alive and lovely and rapidly became very very dear to me. 
I would advise you not to read this first half until 2014 when you can read the story in it's entirety and thus not be left hanging for  two *&%$##%^^ years. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Giving up my Cannibal Ways

It's going to be hard. 
But I think I can do it. 
It's just so easy to cannibalise.
And it's all recycling, really. 
Which, as everyone knows, is good
Waste not, want not and all that.
My mum has spoken to me sternly about it. 
As has My Beloved. 
So I'm going to try very very hard to be good, and stop. 
It just made things so easy. It made it so much quicker to get a result. A chunk from here and a chunk from there and a bit of stitching to sew it all together and voila! A whole new story!
But... I can see their point. 
It might have been a quicker result, but it wasn't necessarily a better result.
So from now on I will not go through the old manuscripts sitting around in old folders in old computers enticing 'Hey you could use a big chunk from me. I'm pretty much already there. No one will ever know. And think of the time you'll save.' 
But the thing is, people do know. And I know. 
So I hereby resolve to let sleeping manuscripts lie. 
And not take big chunks out of them. 
(But the waste, the waste...) 

Do you cannibalise?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ten (More) things of Giggles and Sweetness

One. My Sprocket puffing out his little chest, flexing his arms and making funny faces before he jumps into the swimming pool with a massive war whoop. All eyes are on him and he'll make the most of it! 

Two. My Poppet balancing awkwardly, but very determinedly, as she trying to get her tiny pink foot into my great big black Ugg boot. 

Three. My Sprocket telling me "I'm not a son! I'm a daughter! I'm a baby sister." (It is true the Poppet gets told off a lot less than the Sprocket. Sigh. Now I feel guilty. But it's still cute!) 

Four. My Poppet telling on me in the early hours of the morning. 

"No milk till morning, darling. Wait for the sun to come up," I mumble.
She crawls over to her daddy. "Mumma! More! Milk! More!" she tells him. Then she cuddles up beside him and goes back to sleep. 

Five. My Poppet demanding more stories. And more stories. And more stories. 'More, mumma! More!' she tells me, bringing me yet another book. My little story-girl. 

Six. My little Poppet calling for her 'Nana.' Repeatedly. Every day. Until I put on skype. 

Seven. My Sprocket's dedication, determination and go-get-it attitude. He looks at a situation. Sizes it up. And acts. Furniture is dragged here. And there. And piled one piece on top of the other. A chair on a table is not uncommon. He has started dragging his toy kitchen over to the fridge to climb up it to get the goodies on top. He has also pulled a chair over to the fridge and then used the broom to 'sweep' everything off the top. We have decided to store treats (and knives) in safe-boxes. We are only curious as to how long it will take him to work out the combinations. 

Eight. What can I say. I'm shallow. My Poppet's little red suede shoes with the flowers just make me go 'Aaaaw'. 

Nine. At night, as we go to sleep My Sprocket still cuddles up to me. We talk about the days and what happens when. On Monday everyone goes to school (We don't talk about Monday much) On Tuesday we have swimming. On Wednesday and Friday we have Playgroup. On Thursday we go to the playground. On Saturday we wake up and go to the Beach. On Sunday we go to Church. 

I like the beach! he tells me. 'I do to, honey, I do to.' 

Ten. As we drive to childcare and work on Monday morning My Sprocket wails "Ghee goes to school soon." 

Poor, deluded, hon. 
From the way my beloved and I say 'soon'  - soon we will go to the playground, soon we will go to the beach, you can have some chocolate soon, he thinks it means 'sometime not now.' In toddler-time 'soon' means far, far far off in the distant future. 
But as we drive along the road to childcare soon is actually nowish. Sigh. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Solstice Wood

I was the delighted recipient of a treasure trove of Patricia McKillip books for my birthday so I've been joyfully diving into the new worlds of an old love. While I loved all of the books, the one that sang was the one that straddled this world (or a close variation thereof) and a mythical world. 
Occasionally a book comes along that you fall in love with. 

While you journey within it's covers you heart is bigger, your mind expands and leaving it is a terrible wrench. Mckillip's Solstice Wood is that kind of book. McKillip's dense and heart-full language makes her works harder to read than many other books - but also more rewarding. 
McKillip makes you think and feel, sigh and wonder, but you have to work for it.  Solstice Wood is about a wood between the worlds and a house that stands guard against the uncertain vagaries of faery. Culminating on a night that echoes A Midsummer Night Dream, Solstice Wood is a plea for openness to the heart and to 'other'-ness. Returning to a theme that is dear to McKillip, when the strange and fae come knocking it is not always to harm. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


So help me out here. We intend to paint our house in the very near future. Whenever it lets up raining, really. At present our house is yellow with maroon and pale green trim. Yep. We've lived in it for a year. Every time I come up the drive I sort of close my eyes and pretend I'm looking at something else. But for my birthday I got lots of yummy birthday money (for which much thanks everyone!) and paint came onto the agenda. 
So... now comes the big decision. 
What colour. 
I think (maybe, possibly, perhaps) I've decided on a blue called 'afloat'. We've trialled a patch on the back wall and I think it might look alright. (That's it above, except I took the photo with my iphone in the rain, and it doesn't really look that similar. Sigh) 
But maybe I've just been suckered in by the name. Maybe I just like the nautical vibe. Maybe I just want to pretend that we're sailing away into the sunset. 
I liked the paint 'mariner' and 'ocean plunge' and 'harbour' and... well, you get the drift. 
I think the names are trying to pull a swifty on me. They're just too aspirational. 
And as you might have picked up... all my aspirations are headed straight to sea. When we do paint our house I suspect it will look ... well... pretty much like our family's beach house. Which is also a little shack... painted blue. 
So... colour advice anyone? (Painting advice wouldn't go amiss either - I've been looking at the paint sprayer in Bunninngs and going Hmmm.) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Cutest Clip

I don't know if you caught this, but isn't it the sweetest. I read that this Youtube has gone viral. That sort of gives me hope for the world! And I love how disorganised it all looks - and how they really don't care! If we do decide on No. 3 we are so doing this. (As I a sure will every other parent!) 

Check out the name at the end! Now my Poppet's name will be EVERYWHERE! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wriggling Puppies

I was cleaning the kids kitchen recent (and it's very odd that their kitchen seems to need nearly as much cleaning as our kitchen) and inspiration flashed down and hit me. 
It was something I should have realised way earlier, one of those things that those around me can see clearly but I was being stubbornly blind to. 
I'm a fantasy writer. No matter how much I'd like to be (and I really, really would) I'm not a romance writer. I think I always thought that romance writer conferences and things would be better. More chocolate and kick-ass shoes. 
But the stories that make my pen (or keyboard) come alive are always fantasies. They're not romances. They might have a romantic element, but I could take that out, and there would still be a strong story. Take the fantasy element out and the stories would fall to the floor with the great big splat of a dozen eggs breaking and getting yolk all over the floor. 
Now, generally, this would not be a realisation to make my heart leap. In fact, I'd be pretty down about it. And on one level I was sort of mournful. But on another level it was a yee-ha moment. 
Because it made me realise why a series I've been playing with for eight years (Yep. Eight) and whose main characters I love devotedly just was-not-working. However much tender-loving-care I put in, the stories just stayed dead. When I started the series I was completely and utterly besotted. On a roll I got about 30,000 words down for each of the five in a matter of weeks. 
And then they sort of piked. 
And stayed at the back at my computer, wailing, 'don't you love us anymore?'
And now I finally (a mere eight years later) know why. 
They didn't have that fantastic element that makes my heart sing. 
They weren't following 'my' story. 
So while I lurved my characters, lurved their relationships, the premise and the setting. They fizzled out. 
I was reading my new very-favouritest writing blog recently by Jennifer Crusie and she was writing about the importance of knowing who you are as a writer - what your story is. And how all writers basically write variations of the same story. 
I thought about it. And could totally see it. 
And looking back over my work and thinking over future work, basically my story is variations of 'Young girl stepping into another world -her subconscious- to find who she is and gain a sense of belonging.' 
In maybe a dozen novels, that's pretty much it. 
There's one exception, but that was almost a coming-of-age memoir, and the protagonist just runs to the sea, rather to another world. Which in my books is sort of the same thing. 
So now I know how to wake that series up and inject it with a bit of life. And the ideas are pinging in and piling up into something wondiferous.
And I'm on a roll again and all buzzed up. And the housework is just going to have to take care of itself (Maybe if I just put everything on the floor in big garbage bags every night...Sigh) 
My dead series is now a mass of wriggling puppies. 
So. So. So. Happy. 
Jenny Crusie will never know, but she's just given me the best present ever. Hours and hours and weeks and months of delight. 
I'm not sure my beloved will be quite as happy. The real world is not too real for me at the best of times. When a new book is in the offing it pales to almost non-existence. Of course this is the first real writing (as opposed to editing) I've done since the kids. They might (Ha) Make a difference. 
But I'm ecstatic.

*The wriggling puppies is from an 'about this book' section at the end of 'Rose Daughter' when Robin McKinley talks about how she knows which of her ideas is going to become a novel. She says the ones that make it are 'like wriggling puppies.' They have life. At least I think she does. I'll have to go back and re-read to make sure I've got the quote write. Ooops. Another thing to fit in instead of the washing...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not that I'm Addicted or Anything...

Not that I'm addicted or anything... but I'm not looking forward to tomorrow. 
My 'dry' day. 
My day-without-Internet. 
24 hours seems like a long, long time. 
I suggested to my Beloved that maybe 13 hours, say, from when the kids wake up to when they go to bed, and maybe with a time out at nap-time, would be better. 
But he seems to think that's a bit of a cop out. 
Maybe it is. 
But I'll hear that little 'ding' on the phone that means an email has come through - and I won't know what it is or who it's from. 
I find this hard. 
But I think the fact that just thinking about no-Internet gives me the shakes means it has to be done. 
So goodbye till Sunday Folks. I have a lot to get done before Midnight! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Charlie is my Darling (Or Not)

My Poppet and I are dancing around the living room to this song this week: 

Eddi Reader's Charlie is my Darling, one of Robert Burns' songs.  
We love the raucous life of it. Can't you just feel the vibe. It has me itching to see some live music!
My Sprocket's not so interested, but my little mini-me is entranced.
The song is about Bonnie (or not so Bonnie!) Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender. Being a republican I've a bit of a down on anyone who believes in the Divine Right of Kings so Charlie is not quite my darling.
But I love this Song. I love how Eddi sings it - the buzz and the passion and the fun of it.
I was originally looking for this song:

'Willie Stewart', another Robert Burns song that Eddi Reader sings on her Robert Burns album (Which is brilliant) An inbred and delusional Prince who brought Scotland to ruin is not my thing - but Robert Burns... sigh. All I can say is it's a good thing he's well and truly dead. 
Four years ago by completely random coincidence Eddi Reader turned up to do a gig at the tiny coastal town my beloved and I were living in. 
The same weekend I turned 30. 
Talk about a birthday present. I'm still a bit stunned at it to be honest. 
At the time we (okay - I) were desperate for a baby and it seemed like we'd been trying for months and months and months so I was all mournful. 
I didn't know it then... but our baby was - finally - on his way. 
William Stewart are my Sprocket's middle names - William is a family name on both sides and Stewart is after a very dear friend from Scotland who died far too young. We were never in any doubt as to what we'd name our wee one if he was a boy. I love that this song is so fitting for my Sprocket. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ten (more) Things of Giggles and Sweetness

One. It's been awhile since my Beloved and I got to lie next to each other at night. When we did, I always liked an arm wrapped around me. Now, my Sprocket lies between us, and every night he tells me, "Mummy, arm around Ghee." 

Two. My Sprocket stayed home with his Daddy one day this week when they both had the sniffles.  My Poppet was fine and I dropped her at childcare on the way to work. My Sprocket spent the whole day telling my Beloved "It's time to get Bubba from school. Daddy, get Bubba!"

Three. My Poppet sits on the toilet. She is so proud of herself she grins from ear to ear. Whether she actually does something or not, she always chortles and giggles and claps and cheers herself. Cutest thing ever. When My Sprocket does something on the toilet she also claps and cheers and jumps up and down. So exciting! 

Four. My Sprocket lies next to me in bed. It's my favourite time, when we're all at peace and enclosed in the dark, just talking about the day. "And the mummy dragon flies high up in the sky, and the baby dragon flies high up in the sky, up above the airport...." The story continues until he falls asleep. 

Five. My parents come and stay the night. This is very exciting. The day after they leave my Sprocket wakes at 6am, looks around and then hurries out of bed. "Where are you going, darling?" 
"Nana Budgie!" I hate to tell him Nana & Grandpa Budgie are already gone. 

Six. "Sprocket, why is Poppet crying?" (Note to self, stop asking stupid questions.) 
"I bit her." 
"Why did you bite Poppet, Sprocket?" 
"Sometimes I do things that are a little bit naughty." 

Seven. I dress Poppet in my favourite outfit - a little brown cord dress with floral appliques and a faux fur waistcoat and we troop to the park. It's been raining a lot and we're glad to be out of the house. Of course... on the way to the park is a massive puddle. Within minutes Sprocket and Poppet are soaked. I just watch and laugh. They have a ball. Clothes can always be washed. 

Eight. We're trying to explain the concept of grandparents to my Sprocket. "Nana Budgie is Mummy's Mummy, Sprocket." 
"No! My Mummy!" 
"Yes honey, I'm your mummy, and Nana Budgie is my mummy." 
"My Mummy!" 

Nine. We sing in harmony for the first time. Sprocket and Poppet sing 'Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding' from 'The Annoying Thing - Crazy Frog' Youtube while I sing (under the Sprocket's direction) 'I'm the mummy monster! Grrr! Grrrrr! Grrrr! I'm the mummy monster!' 

 Poppet comes over to where I'm on the computer chair. 'Off! Share, mummy! Chair!' She starts pulling my hand. When I get off she points. 'Up! Chair!' I pick her up and put her on the chair and she grins. "Chair." She sits and surveys her kingdom. Then switches off the computer.