Thursday, May 29, 2014

Littlest (week three)


This post is very late, in fact, tomorrow you're four weeks old.

And I still don't know where the time has gone. (If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do is to save every day till eternity passes away just to spend them with you - Jimmy Croce)

I'll try to cast my mind back a week, because I really don't want to forget any of these days, and already they're so hazy - your deep and changing eyes, your funny expressions, the fine down along the rim of your ears, your tiny fingers clinging to one of my larger ones.

Last week, my Little one, was a haze of sickness. Your Daddy and I were still in the heart of it all and with the sleepless nights and your Daddy's long hours - sometimes not getting home till ten or eleven pm - it was all a mess.

But you were beautiful. Time spent just staring at you, drinking you in, made everything better. You had the slightest of snuffles but were still so alert, your eyes focusing on windows and ceilings with rapt attention.

You'd wake early each morning for a long feed, then fall asleep as soon as the car started on the school run, and generally sleep through being loaded into your sling, walked to and from the classroom, placed back in the car seat, taken out again, loaded into your sling, walked to Poppet's classroom, and put back into the car.

You stayed in your sling, a little warm presence beside my heart, like a little pouched possum-babe for a lot of the day. You looked around as we hung up the washing, fed the worms their scraps, swept the floor.

It is the same sling that we got for your brother, all those years ago. Your Daddy sat with your brother through most of the night for the whole of his first week, with him in that sling. I think he got through seventy levels of World of Warcraft. It was too hot for the tropics when we moved when Sprocket was four weeks, so it was packed away - and then with your sister there were two little ones so the double pram was handier and the sling was hardly used. Now, out of storage once again, I hardly take it off.

You got glitter on your face at playgroup last week, little one, and I couldn't help smiling and thinking it was the first time of many. Purple glitter sprinkled on your cheek and your near-bald head. You slept peacefully in the travel cot a kind mum brought in, and the children were all fascinated, going over to stand on tiptoe to peer down at you, coming over to study you when you woke and decided it was time for your feed.

The nights have been mild compared to your first week when it was bitterly cold- we haven't rugged you up as much, and you sleep with your little arms outstretched above your head.

The autumn leaves are rapidly going - winter approaches fast. I am looking forward to rugging you up in all your little hats and woollens.

My first tiny baby who will have a complete, proper winter.

But each bare tree reminds me of how quickly time is passing - the full, vivid glory of autumn only arrived when you did - and already it is fleeing. Much as I am eager to see the person you are, to watch you grow through every age, I wish I could slow these days down, that this time with you so small and perfect, would last far, far longer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Writing Wednesday

I'm lying in bed on this cold grey day, my newborn babe asleep on my chest, my feverish little girl tucked into my side.

For a few moments I had plans to get up and actually tidy the house, as they both appeared to be asleep. I carefully eased out of bed to change Littlest's nappy - at which point she puked all over herself, me, and the change mat, (o the waste of all that milk, the waste!) and my Poppet woke up and promptly wet the bed. (Thank you mattress protectors, you deserve a million awards and all praise.)

Stripping off the bed, the babe, the feverish girl and myself, both girls started wailing. Littlest wanted to be held and replacement milk, Poppet wanted cuddles and to curl back up in bed.

I gave up on any thoughts of getting out of bed this afternoon until it's time for the school run. As soon as all the dirty stuff was in the wash and we were all re-clothed, it was back to bed.

Obviously, the universe wants me to get some writing done.

And there are worse things in the world than an afternoon in bed with a sleeping babe warming my tummy, her little face upturned towards me, one hand curled possessively around the milk as she makes little snuffly 'ahhing' noises, her blue-grey eyes half open and flickering, even though she seems half asleep. My poor Poppet is pale but red cheeked, her closed and sleeping eyes darkly shadowed as she cuddles into my side.

Last week, in an attempt to give myself motivation with deadlines, I decided I wanted to edit three chapters and critique three chapters in the coming week. I've critiqued three chapters on Scribophile - and it was wonderful to get lost again in stories, to consider language and plot as I thought about what worked and what didn't work for me in others' tales, to have the excitement of new tales and the joy of returning to old favourites.

The editing? Well, I kept at it, only to realise I was editing two different versions of the same story.
The perils of a messy desktop and no proper filing system for multiple drafts.

So my aim for this week? To sort out all my different versions of stories, and edit another two chapters, and to do another three critiques on Scribophile. We seem to be at the tale end of the run of sickness (touch wood) so I live in hope.

How has your writing gone? Have you set yourself any deadlines? Managed to avoid the nearly-winter-leurgies?

Sunday, May 25, 2014


- Mother's day crysanthemums from last year flowered a week late this year. (I couldn't resist another pot today on post-mother's day sale, but that will be a photo for next week…)
- we are deep in illness and lemon honey drinks have been guzzled like water.
-it seems like autumn only just arrived and now winter approaches… my bulbs are also coming out as well as the first of the quince blossom… so spring is also lurking!
-my Littlest. Three weeks old and that is so totally a smile!

Joining with Em for stills from our week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Writing Wednesday

Oddly enough, now my Littlest is out in the world, my writing hiatus seems to be at an end. (I can roll over in bed! I can bend! I can walk ten paces without losing my breath! I can lie down without being choked with heartburn! And, most importantly, O happy day, I can write!)

And so, with great celebration, I am returning to my beloved stories and characters. They never really left me - at night, caught between waking and sleeping I'd run through images and scenes, mull over characters and unravel plot tangles, but putting fingers to keyboard? Not so much.

I've finally transferred all the manuscripts I want to work on this year onto the laptop possessing its full complement of keys and without cracks in the screen, renewed my membership of Scribophile, my online writers group and… set to work. (This time with a sleeping baby on my lap - her noisy breathing makes a lovely soundtrack and she herself is a brilliant little heater.)

It is wonderful to have that rush and thrill again, to pick up where I left off and throw around ideas and images, get lost in dialogue. I've missed it.

I've started small with editing. I was perplexed to realise that I've used the same rather dodgy word on every second page of the first three chapters of the novel I'm working on. Hmm.

A friend pointed out with a previous manuscript that every time I described a dragon - which was a lot I used the word 'flanks'. I seem to have done a similar thing here, but because my protagonist uses sharper language than I'm accustomed to, I've used a pseudo swear word in place of what she'd really use…I've started to wince every time I see it. Let me redress that.

In order to keep my momentum going I've decided to set aside one blog a week to keep myself accountable with my writing.

So: This week, I've edited three chapters, and marked out writing on Scribophile that I'm very much looking forward to critiquing. Next week - I'd like to edit another three chapters (some of which are mere outlines which will need to be rewritten) and critique at least three chapters on Scribophile. There's also a synopsis I need to work on… again.

What are other people working on?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Littlest (Week Two)

Littlest -

You've been out in the world with us two weeks now - and I still can't quite get over the wonder of you. Many hours of the day are lost just in staring at you. The little movements of your hand - the way you can curl your fingers back as you wave your hands, keep me entranced. The way the light falls on the fineness of your skin. The content of your face as you finish the last of your milk and fall into sleep, all curves and dimples.

You are beginning to observe the world more and more. You watch through blue grey eyes - your gaze slowly moving from here to there. Your gaze latches on me - holds and then moves on to study the window-sill or fireplace with awe.

You continue to make the sweetest, funniest little noises, from the gulping as you struggle to keep up with the milk, to the soft 'ahhing' as you sleep. You're sleeping now, in the bassinet beside me, and the gentle sound of your breathing makes me smile. A few little creaking sounds and then some panting, and back to creaking. "Urrh. Urrh."

You observe your brother and sister with every sign of disapproval, your little mouth downturned like a small Queen Victoria. We are not amused.

Every day I learn something new about you - you love to be moving - to travel. You fall asleep almost instantly in the car, you love being walked out in the garden. The hair at the back of your head is the softest thing I've ever felt. You love your bath, and hate being taken out. You don't mind having your nappy changed, but you hate having clothes put on and off.

Sprocket and Poppet love you very much. When you were crying in the car your brother made up a lovely lullaby for you - it only had two words "Little Baby, Little Baby", but it was very melodic.
Your sister asks frequently to hold you - although admittedly she only wants to for a few seconds at a time. But she strokes your hair and proclaims you 'adorable' and 'the cutest'.

You have had a very busy second week. We've had a whirlwind trip to Melbourne to see your Great Great Aunt who is only in Australia for a few short weeks, cramming it in between dropping Sprocket and Poppet off at school and hurrying back in time to pick them up. You were brilliant - you slept the two hours there and the two hours back and fed well and were so alert while we visited. You've visited your first thrift shop (and slept the whole time in your sling). You've been walked around many playgrounds, gone supermarket shopping (the little capsule in the trolleys is not for you - you want to be held close in the sling, thank you very much) and been 'patted' by many school children, your head carefully stroked as they crowd around. One little girl recited Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes, the lovely Mem Fox story for you.

We are - slowly- getting better at the school run as I learn to time your feeds better and take into account the explosive nappy that's bound to happen just as I'm heading out the door. Have I knowingly run out the door with baby poo on my skirt this week? Why, yes. I just wasn't willing to spend the time changing or cleaning when it meant I might be late for pick up - but you were all cleaned up. (I didn't know about the wet patches on my top till too late...)

The days have continued beautiful. In the mornings we have driven sometimes through almost pure white fog - unable to see more than a few metres ahead - with sometimes the stark silhouette of a tree visible, and sometimes slants of sun illuminating the fields around for a moment. By midmorning the mists clear to reveal clear cloudless blue. The grass is vividly green with the rain now, the autumn colours vibrant.

Our darling Possum, our Lilli-Pilli, our little Froglet, our Squawkatron. You make our family complete and we are so glad to have you here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Moments: Stills from our week

- Late afternoon light on rushes.
- Sunlight through apple leaves in the garden. I'm still feeling bit sad that the smoke kept us inside and away during the apple harvest, but we are so appreciating time in the garden now when the weather is perfect, the grass lush and the flowers blooming. I am trying very hard (and generally unsuccessfully) to stay away from plant nurseries…But the hyacinth just smelled so divine...)
-Autumn books for my Autumn baby.
- Littlest, outside enjoying the balmy weather.
- Littlest - she has a very piercing gaze. It is hard to believe that she has already been with us for two weeks. The time has raced by so quickly. I'm trying to grasp on to it, but it's just being eaten up.
-Littlest with my mother, my grandmother and my great aunt, who is visiting fleetingly from the UK.
-A field of dandelions in the sun.
-Littlest, admiring a nasturtium from the garden. I'm just about to tell her she can eat nasturtiums. I forget to tell her that just because you can eat it, doesn't mean it tastes nice. As a child I loved eating marigold petals and sucking the nectar from jasmine and honey-suckle. I might look around for some honey suckle to plant for her.
-Early morning mist.

Joining with Em for moments from our week. 


-Littlest, outside, enjoying the mild Autumn weather.
-Poppet. Just after her ballet lesson. She is so exuberant, so enthusiastic.
-Sprocket. It's been a busy morning and the evidence is on his face. Helping rake up the leaves in the garden. We've loved being outside and reclaiming our garden after all the weeks of smoke and then rain.

Joining with Jodi and all the other lovely bloggers for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week in 2014. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tag - you're it. Blog Hop.

Belinda Mellor, an extraordinarily talented New Zealand writer, whose novel Silvana: The Greening, a beautifully crafted fantasy, was published last year, has tagged me in a very fun blog hop. I’ve loved exploring new authors such as Melissa Legette and B L Draper, as well as favourites from the online writer's group scribophile such as Louise Redmann --- who have been previously tagged.
Belinda’s novel, the first in a very exciting trilogy, is the first ‘fantasy biography’ or 'fantasy family saga', I’ve read and the images, themes and characters are both gripping and evocative. I feel very honoured to have seen the work progress from early drafts through to the final novel.
So without further ado -

 What am I working on?
I’m working on three different young adult fantasies this year. Last year I completed a Nanowrimo and two Camp Nanowrimo (each is fifty thousand words written in one month) and now I have three rough drafts that I need to beat into shape finish off and ruthlessly edit.
The first is a retelling of the fairy tale The Frog Prince set in Scotland in 1801 and called The Toad Lord.
The second is about a barista renouncing her heritage as Queen of the wolf-people in a world founded on lost earth lore, Overly Caffeinated Werewolves (Are not Pretty).
And the third and final is a fantasy based upon the Irish Myth cycle and the coming of the Celtic god of sun and craft, Lugh. When the infant Lugh is hidden away from his murderous grandfather, he’s given into fosterage to a teenage Celtic-rock musician living in our time. When Lugh returns to his own time  to confront his grandfather, all his best-loved foster-family are placed in jeopardy.
As I’ve just had my third (entirely adorable) baby I’m not embarking on any new novels – but I’m loving spending time with favourite characters. We’re going to be in Scotland for Christmas this year (and London, Amsterdam and Paris shortly after) and I’m looking forward to lots of inspiration and descriptive detail for my Scotland based books. And why yes, I am very, very excited! (Not quite so excited about three kids, one a babe, on a twenty-four hour flight…but it will be an interesting experience!)
 How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Ouch. It's difficult to talk objectively about your own work. I know what I would like it to be, but what it actually is? A lot of my work features the creation of different worlds - in a kind of reflection of my own love of creating worlds through writing. Many readers have commented on the gentle humour - particularly with my Emporium Sisters' series, as well as on the vivid descriptions. 
     Why do I write what I do? 
I think every writer has a story that resonates strongly with them and that they keep coming back to in various forms. I tend to write cross- world fantasies – with people from this world slipping into another, fantastical world, and vice versa. While I’m strongly influenced by writers such as C.S Lewis and Diana Wynne Jones, I think it’s also a factor of being a second generation immigrant, of growing up hearing of a ‘home’ across several oceans, and of later travelling back and being blown away by all that is deeply familiar – and all that is unexpectedly alien. 

 How does my writing process work?
I have no set process – I’ll have months when I’ll set myself targets and write so much every day and other months when I just write sporadically.
I do like planning out each chapter before I begin, and I have hundreds of books filled with notes and sketches, but I’ve also had books I’ve just sat down and written and been bemused at what happens next. Each book is different. 

Many of my ideas have been inspired by images, (hello pinterest,) a few by dreams.  One of the books I’m working on (Fosterling) started out as an assignment I was given in high school – make up a rock band. I fell in love with the characters and they’ve been with me so long – twenty years and counting now – that writing their story is like spending time with very old friends.

Having been tagged, I’m tagging in my turn another wonderful scribophile writer – Nessie Strange. Her debut paranormal new-adult novel, Living Dead World was published in January this year. I admit to having a bit of a crush on her hero, Jack. 
In general, I’m not an immense zombie fan – Nessie’s writing is truly exceptional to get me over my zombie hang-up. I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel so I can see what happens to characters that I am a little obsessed with are engaging and sharply written, both those on earth and those consorting with the grim reaper in the after-life. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014


It truly feels like autumn now.

The mornings start with heavy mist - especially on the drive to school, sunlight piercing through to illuminate spiders webs, the world seen in shades of grey, off-white and silver. And the day often clears to brilliant blue skies - all the better to show off the autumn leaves.

It is weather for pumpkin soups and apple crumbles, hearty puddings and many, many cups of tea.
I've been alternating between grinding spices up for spiced tea (the pepper is the crucial ingredient) and downing ridiculous quantities of lemon and honey drinks.

Because yes, with the change in temperature my Beloved has brought a leurgy home from the hospital. Saline sprays, hot towels for sore eyes and eucalyptus rubs are the name of the game. Luckily, none of the kids are showing signs of having it. Sipping my lemon-honey drink while my autumn-babe sleeps,  I read through autumn quotes, gleaning words.

amber, abundant, crisp, rustling, deciduous, apple, windy, earthy, harvested, vivid, vibrant, russet, golden, crackle, smoky, falling, seasonal, fogs, mists, tawny, withered, ripened, roasting, spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, frost, fruitfulness, reddening, saffron, nut brown, wood fire, acorn, oak, poplar, maple, furrow, fallow. 

Hello Autumn. My favourite and my best. (Despite the nasty cold). I do love you.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


-autumn leaves
-silvered sky through autumn leaves
- babycinno. a rainy day so we took the kids to the indoor playground at bunnings. they played, chose plants (sprocket wanted lavender for his bees, poppet 'something pink'), fortuitously met with friends, and did the craft activity.
- mother's day craft activity at bunnings. beading bracelets, decorating photo frames and cards.  my Poppet was in heaven.
- camellia, finally in bloom.
-late afternoon light in Littlest's Corner.
-my mama has been staying with us this week. holding Littlest in the garden.
- Littlest was born on my friend Renee's birthday. The birthday girls together.
- autumn leaves and a little handmade shoe. Very soon Littlest will have more shoes than I do. (Guilty pleasure. Baby shoes are so gorgeous!)
-Littlest sleeping. With posset. Oops. Need to change that.

Joining with The Beetle Shack for moments from our week, Littlest's first week in the world. 


-Littlest. Eight days old she is just back from the hardware shop and sitting in her pusher for the first time as she supervises me planting some lavender. She is a constant delight and we are all besotted.
-Poppet. The cold weather has finally arrived and I am loving the gentle falling rain and rugging up. Poppet at the playground.
-Sprocket. About to launch across on the flying fox. This week I saw him swing himself up on top of the monkey bars and then dance on top of them. I also heard an older kid point him out to an even older kid as completely fearless. I have resigned myself to a broken limb some time, and am looking around for a gymnastics class to enrol him in.

This week, our first with Littlest, has been indescribably sweet, chaotic, sleep-deprived, busy, and beautiful. The rain has fallen gently, the skies have been grey, the mornings misty. The autumn colours have burst into their full glory and I have tried desperately to remember each moment. I don't want to forget so much as a second.

Joining with Jodi for a portrait of my little ones once a week, every week in 2014. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Littlest (one week)

My sweetheart,

You're one week old today and I have no idea where this week has gone.

As I type (one handed) I'm holding you in one arm, and you are making little 'arf, arf', noises of content after your feed. Curled beside me in bed Sprocket and Poppet are watching a Friday night movie, as your Daddy is away working at the hospital and won't be home till close to midnight. Fittingly, they're watching the Ice Age movie where the mammoths are having the baby…

I still can't believe how perfect you are.

The way the light catches on your delicate skin, your tiny fingers, the soft squeaky- door noises you make. The way your tongue slowly pokes out when you're hungry, the nose wrinkle followed by the determined lunge at the milk. The incredible softness of your skin and downy hair, and your indescribable sweet-baby smell.

You are increasingly aware, and so often there is a look of wonder in your eyes as you look around.

We have had a very busy week. On Monday we (reluctantly) left the hospital, and it was straight from there to Bunnings then we picked the kids up from school and your brother proudly showed you off to his class. And it seemed like we were only just in the door when your Daddy had to head back to the hospital for an evening shift.

The rest of the week has been just as busy. This morning we were at school all morning for a mother's day event - although I swear I was gypped. I assumed we'd watch a little performance and then have a cup of tea and cakes. Um. No. It was listening to readers, and Jolly Phonics and then playing numbers games. Poppet, who is of the opinion the classroom is her queendom, ran around giving Sprocket massive hugs and tackling him to the ground, giggling and squealing with excitement, and you needed feeding. So while calming Poppet down and feeding you I was trying to pay attention to Sprocket and help him with his letters and numbers. And he is not a boy who likes sitting still. At all. Needless to say, we came home, I fed you, then your Nana took Poppet to the fruit shop while you slept and I passed out… I suspect this is a taste of what your babyhood will be like… multi-tasking is the name of the game.

(O, more milk, little one? Of course. You're welcome.)

And yet, despite the rush, the chaos, this time has its own sweetness. You're part of the family now, Littlest. The days in the hospital, when it was just the two of us, were beautiful, but this time is also precious in all its crazy chaos and cosy domesticity. Of course, your Nana goes home tomorrow so it might all go pear-shaped… but we'll see.

In the days before I went into hospital I eagerly looked out for the first of the changing autumn leaves and now, home again, autumn has arrived in all her glory.  I like to think that the vivid golds and oranges, yellows, scarlets, crimsons and pinks have been put out especially to welcome you.

The mists and fogs have also arrived - we drove to school in dense grey this morning, and on waking the windows were silvered with condensation and the grass outside was laced in frost. The nights are cold - 2 degrees and about to get colder and I love it.

I'm so glad that you're an autumn baby and that autumn proper has arrived at the same time as you. Autumn truly is my favourite time of year.

My littlest love, it is so good to have you here. You're every thing I ever dreamt or hoped for in all the months of your growing, and then a million times more. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A moment from the hospital

11pm. 4/5/2014

This is tomorrow. 

After all the waiting, all the days and weeks and months of expecting and counting down, the pain of labour, we’re in the ‘tomorrow’ we’ve been waiting for.

My Littlest one has had her feed and lies in her clear bassinet beside me, red faced and beautiful. Her face scrunches, she stretches, a little burp. A little posset. My milk has finally come in and she’s been enjoying the plenty.

Her little arms dance and she stares at me, blinks. Her eyes slowly close. The room around is dark, only Littlest and I are in half-light. Staring at each other.

O that was surely a smile. She fans out her fingers, her little tongues comes out. Is she hungry again? She has slept well all day – through the kids doing summersaults on the bed and crawling under it and checking all the buttons. Now, she is alert, looking around. She moves her hands and fingers slowly, as if she were still held in fluid.

As a child I used to try to run into the next moment, the perfect moment, the moment in from the rain, or to the letter box if I knew a birthday parcel was being delivered. Always waiting for the next moment.

But this is the moment I want to stay in. Right here. Right now.