Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yay, me!

As of right this minute, 3.40pm, 30th April 2013, I’ve completed Camp NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated that means that in the last 30 days I’ve finished 50,000 words of my novel, Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are not Pretty), and I'll get all sorts of cute goodies like computer badges and half-price writing programs.
 Yay me! Happy Dance! I'm a winner - it says so on my stats page and I didn't even need to run anywhere or muck around with a ball!It’s a wonderful feeling. A nice solid, bulk of work, sitting there emanating good vibes at me from the heart of my computer. There's still another 25-35,000 words to go, but the main structures there, and its been so much fun to write and I can't wait to juggle it around a bit and see what happens.
So, yes, my manuscripts a mess. Things are all higgledy-piggledy and towards the end there I was just writing scenes with neither placement not correct punctuation. 
Stuff happened I did not plan and that still vaguely perplexes me. Did I know the Sun goddess and her fiery chariot were going to play such a strong role, or that Mia would go hang out with the Greek style, but double-breasted, Amazons in Amazonia, where the Sun and the Moon have a massive break-up fight in the middle of the river?
I didn’t have a clue. But she did. And they did. And I think it will work.
Nor did I know Mia's detectiving would lead her to the land of the Were-Cats and the sad tale of the were-wolf and the were-cat who fell in love and had kittubs, who become the Lands first police force….
Okay, I admit, when you don’t have the time to think things through plots get messy… but I’m sure given a few strong blows and some nails I can hang it all together!
But the words are there. I’m confident that with a bit of play I can make something fun and strong and full of fizz from them.
And now, now I can finally edit! Those pages that weren’t quite right so I rewrote them? Those extra adjectives that so aren’t my protagonists style. Vamos! They go.
I just have to wait until I’ve uploaded the words and it’s all been verified and I  can hack into the manuscript with an ax and remove all the dead wood and really see it’s beautiful  trunk and branches.  (Have I played with that metaphor enough? – the trees out the window before me are stunning falls of sun-caught gold, so I’m very ‘treed’ up.)
Presently, thanks to too many 4am writing starts, I am a tad sleep deprived, and possibly a little too caffeinated. When you have to stop and think before you can work out how many coffees you've drunk, the suggestion is there's been a few too many. 
But... oo. Happy shivers. Hello, my little manuscript, I'm very pleased to meet you!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Stills

1. Blossoms in evening light
2. My Sprocket. I think I can see him as a teenager in this photo. He's growing so quickly.
3. My Sprocket and my Poppet. What, my children play with sticks? Yep. The best toys. Well, until somebody loses an eye... But for now? En guarde!
4. Woah! Poppet, being walked by our dog Issy. Poppet doesn't get to walk Issy often as Issy, a street dog I found being drowned on the Island of Isabel in the Solomon Islands and presented to my Beloved as a just-started-going-out-present, is not entirely reliable around other dogs. I blame it on the quarantine when she was very young. Luckily this park was fully fenced and no one else was there.
5. A feather in the light.
6 & 7. So I mentioned that I'm rapturously in love with Autumn? The affair continues. I adore the autumn colours. I always feel slightly adulterous to admit my love of the imported European trees... but just look at the colours!
 8. An (out of focus) riot of daisies.
9. My Sprocket, just out of surgery for his grommets, and waiting in observation until we were allowed to leave. He was not a fan of the cannula that had to stay in till we left.. They gave us his gas mask to take home as a toy for his teddies. It'll get a lot of use!
10. My lovely cherry tomatoes. I seem to eat some every time I'm in the garden.

Joining with the wonderful Em at The Beetleshack. I'm so excited about her baby coming soon. (I'm not clucky, I'm not clucky, I'm not clucky. Oooo. Baby...Little baby.)


1. My Sprocket, about to go into theatre to get grommets put in. He looked so little and young I just wanted to swoop him up and take him home again! On the way over in the car he'd been saying "I'm a lucky boy, I get to go to daddy's work!" It all went very well and he is once more climbing about at the speed of light!

2. My Poppet, holding onto daddy's hand. Increasingly she just looks so knowing and herself. She's only two and a half but already such a determined, imaginative character. My hilarious little firecracker!

Joining with the lovely Jodi over at Che and Fidel for a photo of my babies once a week in 2013.

Friday, April 26, 2013

So We're All a Little Bit Blue...

Yesterday, my Sprocket had grommets put in his ears to help his hearing.
When he came home, his little nose bleeding a touch and still subdued, there was not a question that what the little boy wanted the little boy would get. So we're suckers. Mostly, I'm okay with that.
What he wanted was to watch 'big boy' shows on ABC3, which generally are banned.
And to make blue cupcakes.
And if my brave little boy wanted blue cupcakes, well, blue cupcakes he would get. We made the bluest cupcakes I've ever seen or even imagined. A truly beautiful, rich teal. Those with a weaker stomach might have thought the cupcakes distinctly queasifying. The kids loved them and ate them all before they cooled enough to ice.
Now, I should have realised that he'd recovered from his trip to the hospital when I had to tell him off for climbing on top of the wardrobe. But no. When there was a suspicious silence I just thought, O, the kids are playing nicely together.
Eventually, two and two clicked. My Poppet coming through and telling me they hadn't been making a mess in the kitchen, possibly gave the show away. There was just something about her grin.
And they had been playing nicely together.
My beloved heard my exclamation and asked me to tell him it had nothing to do with the blue food dye.
I told him I didn't think I could do that.
Because, playing very nicely and quietly, they'd painted the entire kitchen floor, and a few chairs and the table for good measure, blue.
I think I can safely say that my little one recovered from surgery quite quickly.
We're all a bit blue now. Hands, feet, pyjamas, faces.
It's slowly washing off.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moi, Moi, Moi

A friend recently emailed some photos she took of me when we were in Melbourne-City awhile back in the summer. It always feels very odd putting up photos of myself, but if the kids want to look back in years to come - this was me during their childhood!
Place: Random Melbourne Laneway with Characteristic Street Art.
Wearing: Dress from random Queensland op-shop. I love it as it never crumples, never needs ironing and goes with all shoes. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Flued and Freaked

So this is just a moan. Really.
On the plus side, the weather continues to be perfect. My rhapsodies over the wonders of Autumn continue. Camp Nano continues well. At 38,000 words I only need 12,000 more in the next um... 5 days to make my  50,000 in a month. An open fire and marshmallows are again on the agenda for tonight.
The moan?
I've got some hateful bug I'm going to call the flu, but it's probably side effects from my flu jab on Tuesday. Whatever it is, I'm feeling very sorry for myself.
And tomorrow is the day my Sprocket (all going well) goes to his daddy's hospital to get his grommets put in. I'm so excited about my little boy finally (hopefully) being able to hear properly, and put an end to conversations like this:
"Sweetheart, please get down from the window."
Sprocket stands on the back of the couch to swing on the curtain rod.
"Please get down from the window, now!"
Sprocket doesn't answer. Starts swinging.
"Sprocket-First Middle Name-Second Middle Name- Surname, if you do not get down right now you are getting quiet time from here till Sunday!"
Sprocket monkeys along the curtain rod, narrowly avoiding breaking yet another window.
"That's it! Down! OUT. Into the garden." Manually remove from window and vamoose into back garden.
X 100 every single day.
I keep reminding myself that he really can't hear. That the only bit he gets is the bit where I pick him up and take him outside and talk loudly into his ear. And I try to remember to always come close and talk right in his ear the first time. But... a soft-voiced mama and a deaf, adventurous, little boy is a really, really bad combination. To think that might change tomorrow is... amazingly wonderful.
Of course, right now I'm in conniptions about my baby having his first general anaesthetic. I mentioned this to my beloved,  the third year med-student, who said "I know, I'm petrified."
I am not reassured.
Is it wrong I plan to bring my computer to the hospital to write while my little one is under the anaesthetic?  It probably is, so pretend I didn't say that. Of course, I'll be pacing and biting my nails instead.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weekly Stills

1. My Poppet requested a (pink) boogie board at the op-shop. She's practicing her surfing.
2. Autumn leaves!
3. A lovely old gum-tree in evening light.
4. My Mama making dandelion chains with my Poppet.
5. My Baby Brother pushing the kids at his In-Laws farm. An amazing workout and they had a blast!
6. Hello cows!
7. My Poppet and her cousin climbing the hill together.
8. Best friends. Come on Cousin!

Joining with the wonderful Em over at The Beetleshack. I missed last week, but here are some stills, mainly from a wonderful trip to my sister-in-laws parents farm, which was truly magical. It always gives me heart-melt to see how the cousins love each other!

Monday, April 22, 2013


1. My Sprocket hiding in the garden. We visited my sister-in-laws parents farm on the weekend and had the most wonderful time. Now I know where I want to live when I grow up! The garden was inspirational. Box hedges and dahlias here I come!

2. My Poppet. She loves her brother so much. She's just fetched him from the top of the hill.

Joining with the wonderful Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids once a week. I'm loving looking at all the beautiful moments caught in time and sharing with such a great, global community!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nights Like These

Have I mentioned I love Autumn?
I mean, I really, really love Autumn. I spend so much time moaning through Summer I always feel I need to speak up when a season comes along that I really love.  So here's me speaking up. I love the sound of the rain on my roof. I love the changing colours. I love the crisp cold perfection and blue skies. I love how I suddenly feel full of industry and buzz and words just flow. I love how the bite to the air is so invigorating. I love walking with the rain on my face. I love how cosy it feels when we all curl up together in bed, reading stories and sipping hot chocolate. I love wearing socks and scarves and dressing the kids in adorable woollen hats. I love fires every night and roses hung with raindrops.  Thick soups and stews, crumbles and mulled wines are now firmly on the agenda. Sitting now, eating home made chicken soup and sipping mulled wine, the fire dancing, the dog lying contented in front of it, the kids squabbling companionably as they pretend to be zombies, the world is very good. (On which point I never imagined my 2 year old would give me instructions on how to be a zombie - turns out I need to stick my tongue out more.)
I just want to say thank you Autumn. You can stay all year. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We Will Now Take Applause...

So you know how it's been so dry in Victoria recently? And our Autumn has been depressingly rain free? And how it suddenly broke last night in a massive storm complete with rather impressive lightning?
Well, that was due to us. Yep, my Beloved and I take full credit. 
Sure, sure; you can clap if you want to. We saved your sad tomatoes and thirsty roses. 
How did we do it? 
We simply decided to transport a sofabed and two  armchairs in the back of a ute from Melbourne to Gippsland with a tarpaulin that didn't quite cover them. 
A brilliant plan, don't you think? Of course it was going to rain after being dry for ages and ages.
Halfway home, hardly able to see in front of us and with the rain aiming straight for the bit at the front that was most exposed, we cracked up laughing. My roses are deliciously joyful. We now have a living room full of wet furniture which the Poppet and I will attempt to dry off while the Sprocket's at kindy this morning. I'm not entirely sure the hairdryer's going to do it, but it would be nice to finally find a use for it. Wish us luck!

P.S. Folks, folks, in case you missed it we now have a sofabed. You can come stay!

Saturday, April 13, 2013



1. The kids have been painting cards. My dad and my godfather turn 60 within a week of each other so we have been painting and pasting and cutting out. My Sprocket's favourite colour is black at present, so we have lots of paintings of 'black cats at night' I am trying to work out how to turn into something! Which explains the black paint on Sprocket's cheek. He's taking a breather before returning to the work table.

2. My Poppet, laughing as she pastes. She loves pasting and has been sticking massive balls of scrunched up gold paper onto her masterpieces. I'm not sure how to fit them into envelopes though. 

Joining with the wonderful Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of my kids once a week for a year.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

I'm way, way behind on my Camp Nano word count. Which is strange 'cos I'm completely loving writing Overly Caffeinated Werewolves, but If I'm to get my 50,000 words by the end of March, I need to so get onto it. At the moment I'm blaming the evil tummy bug for the delay, but I can't help feeling a real writer would have just ploughed on right through.
Anyway. I'm bringing out the big guns.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!
(Homemade) Coffee Candles. Lit.
Coffee: In Mug. Double Shot. Friends of Same, East Timorese Blend. Courtesy of Mum.
Music: Coffee Playlist, Itunes.
Presently Playing: The Coffee Song, The Coffee Protection Society.

Wish me luck! I'm aiming for another 10,000 words by... o, tomorrow night. 23:59 hour.

What do you do when you want to get a lot done in a short amount of time?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Stills

1. Now Autumn has properly arrived we've been enjoying many fires. The kids love looking for kindling in the garden and we all love staring at the flames.
2. Pink blossoms in the park.
3. Sprocket, reflective
4. Poppet. Being 'super' again. She no longer wants to get on a swing the normal way - but instead wants to be a superhero!
5. Reflections on the verandah window. I love the high autumn skies and the wonderful clear light.
6. My parents came up to see us on the weekend. It was a wonderful end to a dreary week spent mainly in bed with gastro. Cross-fingers we're better now!
7. My beautiful mama at the station just before they caught the train home.
8. The kids were devastated they couldn't get the train back to the city with Nana and Grandpa!

Joining with the wonderful Em at The Beetleshack for Sunday stills.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


1. My Sprocket: a happy yell playing on the sports oval. What could be better than a vast expanse of grass to run around and play with sticks on? Look at the sheer joy!
2. My Poppet: "I'm super-poppet!"

Joining with the lovely Jodi of Che and Fidel for a portrait of the kids once a week in 2013.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Her Head

I've started off my new work in process, Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are not Pretty), and it's brilliant fun.  I'm only 3,000 words in and already there have been four dragons,  two werewolves and a dead body. Overload? I don't know - a lot of fun whatever.
But... I'm struggling with 'the voice.' To really get inside my narrators head and have a good roll around.
As with Dragons' Nests & Firebirds, the previous novel in the series, I'm writing in first person past tense, which worked really well in the last book as Nell's voice wasn't that much of a stretch for me. I didn't have to work too hard (okay, at all, really) to see things through her eyes. She loves details and I could describe all the beautiful things and places at glorious length and her 'tone' was easy. Mia is different. Mia's tone does not come easily to me.
O, but I wish it did.
She's sharp, fast, organised, hardworking, sharp-shooting and fiercely protective and getting her voice right is so hard. My natural tone is... flowery. Her tone is... not.
So I'm wondering, should I  change into third person which is time consuming if it means re-writing a whole novel, but at this early stage not too bad. I've done it before at 30,000 words and it was quite an interesting, if long, exercise, or try to stretch myself to continue trying to write in Mia's voice?
Decisions, decisions.
If I ever get Mia's voice right, I think it could be very effective. However, seeing things through her eyes would mean I'd have to leave out a lot of stuff I really want in, because she just won't see them. Also, I'd need to get a lot more technical about coffee than I suspect my brain can take in.
If I write in third person I can get in a lot more of my delicious detail. But then there's the option of head-jumping. Writing from a lot of different perspectives would be interesting...
But then, it would be nice to get to the end of the series and have the five sisters each have one book to 'speak' in. The different voices would complement each other so well and as a whole it would be so satisfying!
Okay, playtime. I'm off to juggle some words around and see how it all falls out...
I feel coffee may be called for. I suspect by the end of the month the werewolves will not be the only ones who are overly caffeinated!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Clutzes of the World Unite - We Have Nothing to Lose (But Our Fine China)!

I got an email at work recently asking for clutzy volunteers to take part in a study into dyspraxia. And I went 'huh?' So yes, I'm a clutz, but I didn't know it had an official, medical name.
So I put my hand up to take part in the study and was interested as I went down the screening questions to see how many applied. Trouble parking a car and telling left from right. Yep. No good at dancing or team sports? Yep. Lose things all the time? Yep. Bad handwriting. Poor spatial awareness. Yep. Yep. Easily distracted and majorly disorganised. Yep. Yep.
And seriously, nowadays it rarely bothers me. I avoid the stuff I'm bad at and concentrate on the stuff I'm good at. So netball, ballroom dancing and zumba aren't going to happen - I can enjoy swimming, yoga and walks in the country. So I'm disorganised? I read books about creative mess and that makes me laugh. We live in the country so parking isn't an issue and thankfully computers have meant I rarely need to worry about my handwriting..
As a kid however...
As a kid it was different.
Primary school was sheer and unadulterated torture.
I had appalling handwriting, maths made no sense to me, I was always first out in team sports, games of tag and poison ball and as for recess pursuits of skipping and elastics...well let's not go there, I certainly didn't. Instead I opted out and started reading. I read through lunchtime and recess, walking too and from school and through class parties. My wonderful teacher in grade five and six let me skip the daily rounders game and the humiliation of being picked last Every. Single. Day and go straight up to the library.
I hate the thought of other kids stumbling through school, always out of time and out of step and being yelled at for it. Hey, it's not like we do it on purpose. Just the thought of my kids going to school makes me want to sweep them up and take them far, far away. Preferably to somewhere that hasn't heard of team sports. However, there's no sign my kids share my dyspraxia - quite the reverse. My Sprocket has superior co-ordination and great reflexes. I'm actually counting down the days till he's old enough for Little Athletics and soccer to soak up some of his energy.
Dyspraxia is common. About 10% of the population have a mild form and about 2% have a more serious form. It's 4 times more common in males than females and is known as a cousin to ADHD (with which it has a close association), dyslexia and the autism spectrum. Daniel Radcliff of Harry Potter fame is the most well known person with dyspraxia, but Coleridge and Chesterton are believed to have suffered from it.
Do I think something so common as being a clutz should be a medical condition? I really don't know. Did it cause me years of misery. Yep. Until I was in year 11 and 12 and I could gratefully dump P.E and maths I really did think I was stupid. Does the thought of dyspraxia causing other kids years of misery make my heart contract? Yep.
A few years back I did a diploma of primary teaching. And one of my units was Physical Education.  And, as expected, I was the worst in the whole cohort and got many pitying glances as I tried to skip-rope and balance and all the rest. But... our teacher really, really worked at getting my cohort to think about engaging kids like me in P.E. In not making it torture. In using different methods to pick a team, in doing activities that are fun for everyone, not just the normally-co-ordinated. Oddly, P.E was my best subject, as I worked so hard to come up with lessons that all kids could enjoy, a lot based on creative dance and yoga classes I'd taken and assisted with. (You know, the kind of dancing you don't need to keep in time or remember steps for!) Knowing that teacher training is changing, that teachers are being trained in anti-sadist tendencies, makes me a whole heap more optimistic for the future happiness of kids with dyspraxia.
So, clutzes of the world unite! I'm off to yoga tonight, you're welcome to come and I'll try very hard not to bump into you!

My Kind of Camping...

It's April 1st today. Easter Monday. April Fools day. My prizes go to Australian Geographic and Google for April Fools day pranks.
And... wait for it, it's also the starting date for Camp Nano, which is like NaNoWriMo, where you write a novel (or 50,000 words) in the month of November, but you can chose the word count you want to aim for and you don't need to write a novel - you can write a script or short stories or whatever. Everyone is also allotted 'virtual cabins' and cabin mates to help keep you accountable and to try to raise some campfire cheer.
Anyway, I've chosen to work on a novel and aim to complete the first 50,000 words by the end of April. I'm not entirely sure I'll manage it, but I love the thought of trying it. The idea of being completely immersed in my delicious and highly caffeinated story for 30 days? Mmmm. Yes please. Happy shivers.
So the kids and I gathered kindling and I lit the fire today and we watched if for most of the evening - and may I say it was a very well lit fire and a beautiferous blaze. My beloved and I drank spiced tea (in the vain hope the ginger would settle our tummies - the tea was delicious, our tummies are still tumultuous) in front of the fire and outside the stars appeared in a high Autumn sky.
Now, with the kids asleep and the fire died down, cosy in bed in my fav flannel jammies,  all warm and fuffly from the dryer, it's time for me to open a new document and begin writing my brand new and sparkling (but not in a vampy way) novel!
Seriously, forget pit toilets miles away and no hot-water, this is my kind of camping!