Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's 2009!

C'mon, slowcoaches, catch up! I'm already hung over and contemplating what to have for breakfast. Fried ham and eggs sounds good to me. This could be you tomorrow!

Hope you're all having a fantastic festive season, with all your favourite goodies and gifties from the fat bloke in the red suit, and that you occasionally recall whose birthday it really is. BTW, Soccer Boy says that only three people live forever: God, Jesus and Santa.

Nothing profound to offer you today (see para 1), but promise to get back to regular blogging some time in the next week.

And remember. Hogmanay is not a kind of sausage.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rockin' around the eucalypt tree...

Have a happy holiday!

Love McKoala & clan

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And you thought finance was boring...

Robin's latest voice challenge: sexing up something dull. OK, I admit it was my idea - but is anyone surprised that she went for it?!

Here's mine - a little early, but I had some time today. Investment anyone?

From Weds night/Thursday, for more voices and links check out Robin's blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lives are meeting

I've often wrangled with whether or not to put this blog into my real name. Well, I'm not going to, nyah nyah.

I'm around and about under my real name - which I think most of you know, and if you're confused there's a whopping big clue on the book roast blog - but move fast, because I think I might delete that soon.

What's happening now is that, thanks to Facebook, you ethereal chums and my more earthly versions are meeting. Not a bad thing in itself, but while I'm perfectly content for you all to know my real name, I'd quite like to keep McKoala and this blog to my ethereal life. Very few people I see on a day-to-day basis know about my fiction writing, beyond the short stories and articles. I hate the thought of people asking me 'so how's the book going?' every day, possibly for forty years or more if I never get into print!

So I may try and blur the links between the names a little more.

Is anybody else having to think about this?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Random rules

When the right hand does not know what the left is doing, the left hand will take advantage and will shut the right hand in a closet door.

If a husband is entrusted with laundry over a period of a week or more, he will economise by running the machine less often. One morning your daughter will run out of school dresses and your son will run out of school shorts.

The zip on any dress that cost less than half price will break the first time you wear it.

If you save time by dropping off a prescription before going to the supermarket with the plan of picking it up afterwards, you will waste even more time by forgetting it and having to go back to the shopping centre specifically for that one item.

If you let your daughter have nail polish on the grounds that she is now old enough and sensible enough not to paint the white carpet in her bedroom, she will paint the white carpet in her bedroom.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

If I can't understand it, I won't read it

Apparently, I am not stupid. Apart from maths, but we don't need to talk about that now*. Specifically, I am not a stupid reader. I have a degree in English literature and language and I studied linguistics for a while and did OK there (but not as well as Paca). I can even spell, not that that is particularly relevant.

So here's the thing. As a reader, I don't think that a writer being deliberately opaque is a pleasant experience. And although I admit I read for pleasure nowadays I don't mind a bit of a challenge (apart from Russian names, which, as discussed before, I just cannot master - I like to see that as a quirk, rather than general stupidity...), if I do not have any idea what is going on after the first five to ten pages, I will put your book down.

This doesn't mean you can't intrigue me, I'm all over that. But I need to know something. For example, I don't necessarily need to know who the speaker is if I can vaguely follow what they are saying. If I understand who the speaker is, I may bear with difficult content. So tell me something, anything. Even knowing where an unnamed speaker spouting confusion is located may help me. For example, jail. No names needed, confusion expected. But don't hide everything from me or I will put your book down and recommend others skip it too.

I need to have something to hang my hat on before I start taking my coat off. (Whirl, feel free to make merry with that one).

* Never give me the bill to check. It will not work out.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rewrite Jane Austen, 2008-stylee

Following on from the previous post, choose any line from Jane Austen and rewrite it in contemporary English!

See comments for my attempt.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

International editions

In Australia we are in a kind of publishing black hole where we often receive British or US editions of books, rather than Australian editions. Fair enough, there aren't that many of us and it's probably cheaper.

This has enabled me to observe first hand the efforts that publishers do, or do not go to, to create American editions of British books, and vice versa. Here are a few examples:

  • The publishers that make no changes whatsoever, other than publisher details. As we shall see, this is a surprisingly sensible approach.

  • The publishers that change everything. Now, this might seem a sensible approach, but unless you are very careful, this can go horribly wrong and result in an unnatural hybrid. Changing spelling isn't necessarily a big deal, but when you get to vocab and grammar, you are on dangerous ground. Let's assume that our book is set in the UK - as, let's face it, many British novels are. It may be fair enough in narrative to say: 'The child sat on the stoop eating candy'. Not in dialogue. A British child would not say: 'I'm sitting on the stoop eating candy'. A British child would say: 'I'm sitting on the step eating sweets.' There's a huge distinction there between adding an American perspective and creating a monster that doesn't work in either country.
  • The publishers that change a few things here and there to add 'a flavour'. Again, an example and this is my absolute favourite. A book set in Wales, featuring a Welsh family who'd been there for generations and throughout the novel a little boy called his mother 'Mom'. No, no, no. I've seen this a couple of times in US editions of UK novels, but interestingly I've never seen it the other way. Perhaps publishers have the sensitivity to realise that if a novel is set in the US they can keep 'mom', because British readers will understand that this is 'American' for 'mum'. But do they really have the insensitivity to believe that this is not true in the opposite direction? That an American adult would not realise that a British kid using the word 'mum' is not merely making a repeated mistake?
American adults speak out!

And if anybody has noticed anything similar in their reading, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I long to delight my followers

But how, my precious ones?

Maybe a little giggle and a schoolyard yarn.

Soccer Boy's ball got stuck in a tree yesterday after school. We couldn't quite reach the lower branches to shake it loose and chucking sticks didn't help. 'I can do it,' says one of the mums and spear throws her daughter's hobby horse into the tree. Yes, that got stuck too.

So now we have a cricket ball and a disembodied horse's head hanging from the branches. 'Leave it to me,' says Mum number two and lobs her daughter's schoolbag at the ball and horse. Guess what. That got stuck too. So now we have a howling toddler and a schoolchild who doesn't know to be happy or sad. (My homework's in there, yippee! Oh hang on, so's my lunch bag...) Soccer Boy in the meantime is perfectly happy, because his ball has come down.

I'm feeling the need for sacrifice, because this is all down to my child, so I'm weighing Soccer Boy's bag in my hand, thinking that it should at least join the crowd in the tree when the one sensible mum among us arrives with a long-handled mop from the janitor's office. And no, she didn't throw it.

It took three mums and said mop to get the horse and the schoolbag down.