Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 2010 Koala Challenge Awards

The moment you've all been waiting for...the awards to end all awards...the Koala Challenge Awards!

Best Excuse for a day off: JC Montgomery: "I'm getting married."
Worst Excuse for a day off: Blogless Troll: everything he said.

First Smackdown: Whirlochre
Best exit from a Smackdown: Whirlochre (mainly because I think he was the only one who actually completed his penalty, including, um, me)

Longest time on Smackdown: Blogless Troll
Only victim of Koala Supersmackdown: Blogless Troll

Most humiliating Smackdown: The Koala (mumble)

Most polite manipulator of the rules: Sarah (see, you hardly noticed her doing that, did you? she quietly got herself permission to enter total weekly wordage rather than daily, tut tut)
Runner up: Chris Eldin (never once posted her stats, but made sure via other means that I always knew she was writing, and thus never gave me the pleasure of punishing her)
Second runner up: Janey V (I was never quite sure what she was up to, but somehow she got herself on smackdown, out of smackdown, up and down, turned me around and now I'm all dizzy)

Best illustrator: well, duh, JJ de Benedictis (but if she sees this, she's in trouble, she's supposed to be 'on a break') - and she's a runner up for the very last award, too, the one that really matters, so read on to find out what it is...

Most diligent reporter of wordage: shared between Sarah and Sylvia (the Koala thanks you for your diligence!)

Shortest time in the challenge before requesting a break: Precie (was it five weeks or six?!)

Flakiest Challenge Commander after she got that pesky job: The Koala (sorry!)

And, finally, the one that actually means something...the award for the most consistent writer...the person who spent the longest time on 'Koala Approves' status throughout the year...the person who thus has a novel she can be proud of...the person who puts us all to shame...is....: Robin!
Runner up: JJ de Benedictis

Congratulations to Robin, may the rest of us be ashamed of ourselves and roll on 2010!

2010 challenge? What, don't you lot want a break? Yes, probably, but it will take a different form and may be more sympathetic to those with office jobs. Now I have one. Selfis? Moi? The Koala is cogitating. Quake, all ye who write.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So many songs, so little time.

Whirl kindly offered me Greg Lake on a platter. Nay, a poisoned chalice, thought I! Do not accept! Plus, it's cheesy, but I don't actually like it, so it's not my grand finale. (Although if you want a listen, it's here.)

I was beyond tempted to offer you this little gem. However, technically it's not a Christmas song, plus David Essex is so good-looking he's almost ugly, if you see what I mean. It's kind of annoying. Along with that more than sincere sincerity. And those puppy dog eyes. Oh, yes, and that song. Ick.

This is probably the Christmas song that irritates me beyond all others. Sorry, Sir Paul, but I've only just got it out of my head when, hey ho, here comes next Christmas and it's stuck in my head again for the next 11 months.

When it comes to doing good, a decent tune, a collection of 80s fashion, plus several gratuitous looks at the drummer from the Boomtown Rats, Simon Crowe, who I had a long crush on as a teen, you can't beat this one. (I challenge you to spot Simon Crowe. Here's a clue. Crowd scene. By the way, I might have risen to Whirl's cartoonish brilliance had I not been distracted by my glimpses of the handsome Simon and spent two hours combing the web for old Boomtown Rats songs..and, um, OK, photos...)

But for its perfect combination of charm, corn and Christmas spirit, I give you my Festive Song Choice for 2010...eat your heart out Mariah, I like the kid version.

Merry Christmas from Koalaland!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

One of my Christmas faves

Putting aside the Boodthirsty Battle of the Bodgy Christmas Tunes just for one moment (just for a moment, Whirl. No, I didn't say it was over. Don't worry. I'll have something special for you tomorrow...) here's one of my Christmas faves.

I remember listening to this in my tiny bedroom at home, on my little blue transistor and thinking, this is just, just, just, so cool. When you consider that my previous ideas of Christmas music came courtesy of Wizzard and Slade, (see below), I think you'll understand.

I give you The Waitresses. And random italics too, apparently.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You can't keep a good marsupial down!

Why, oh, why would I post wombling nonsense when I have this little beauty up my sleeve?

The hair! The clothes! The meaningful looks!

Take that Mr Eyeball!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another heartbreaker...

I'm having fun with my Christmas tunes here. I think I'll keep it up until Christmas.

Between Christmas and New Year look out for the Koala Challenge Awards - many of you diligent writers out there will be honoured by the koala. Of course, it helps if you actually took part in the challenge.

In the meantime, I offer you the magnificently doleful Jona Lewie, who, in cheesy announcer style, just can't stop that cavalry..

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Christmas Classic

This song brings back so many Christmas memories it almost makes me cry.

Hard to imagine, I know, particularly with the naffest video of all time to accompany it, but I think fellow Brits may be weeping along with me.

May I present to you the wonderful Wizzard and 'I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day'...

*sniff sniff* anyone for an over-emotional Christmas circle dance...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A little more Noddy

While making one of my usual hilarious, and yet deep, comments (yes, that's what they are...stupid and trivial - why no, I think you must be mistaking me for somebody else) on Le Blog of Whirl, I inadvertently committed the classic UK Christmas faux pas of giving Noddy Holder/Slade credit for 'I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day', which is, of course, the wondrous work of Wizzard.

With apologies to Noddy, may I introduce you to another work of genius, the sound of Slade, with the granular Noddy at the microphone, and the Christmas sounds of my distant childhood...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

McK still lives!

A relapse necessitated another slack off, but I think I'm really on the road to recovery now. Cross fingers and claws please.

I did carve out a little writing time and am tantalisingly close to being finished with the edits on WiW. At about the worst time of year - now I'm going to be gripped by the 'send before Christmas or after Christmas' question. If I get it finished by next week, I think I may send out to a couple of agents and then hang on until January for the rest.

Any thoughts or advice, koallettes?

Watch out for a end of year round up on the Koala challenge, coming soon!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Pernickety Edit - jump in!

Great idea from SS@S - I'm posting my editing checklist here. This is the general version, if I'm writing in dialect I have a few more things I need to check, but this is the one I go through pretty much all the time. I'm more guilty of some things than others - to take the first list of non-words, for example, I don't think I ever use ''quite", but all my manuscripts are scattered with "just"!

If you have a similar list, please post it in the comments, or let me know if there is anything you think is missing, then I'll try and put together a version that combines everything. Or, if you strongly disagree with anything, I'd be interested in knowing that too. NB - some of these words and phrases are essential at times - don't take 'em out if it don't make sense or it really is the best option - on the other hand, coming up with alternatives for your own 'automatic drive' can liven up your writing - and cut literally thousands of words of unnecessary padding out of your writing.

Here goes...

Delete that and very! Strip out: really, all, big, little, small, many, some, here, a lot, just, quite, yes, no, a bit, now, maybe.

Take ‘suddenly’ out of all narrative; and ‘for a moment’ everywhere.

Waste of space: especially, however, probably, thankfully, so, of course, in fact, anyway (as a transition rather than a modifier), rather, somewhat, all too often, after all, only, obviously, usually, at least, even so, no idea, for some reason.

Beware of words that don't mean much: seem/ed to be, appear/ed to be, really, actually, keep/kept on, almost, have/had to, go and/went and, used to, finally, eventually. Use punchier verbs.

Watch for ‘something’, ‘everything’ and ‘thing’!

Delete ‘was’/’is’ ‘were’/’are’ and replace with a strong action verb.

Delete adverbs –ly – use very sparingly.

Drop parentheses and excessive ellipses (…)

Close third person - watch out for verbs that distance the POV from close third person – viewpoint intrusion - e.g. ‘hear’/’heard’, ‘see’/’saw’, ‘notice’/’noticed’, ‘look’/’looked’ – ‘feel/felt’ – ‘watch/watched’ look out for ‘could’ – it often signals these. i.e. not ‘I could see the clouds…’ but ‘The clouds…’ NB also – ‘She looked sad’ – why? Better to show this – ‘tears glinted in her eyes’ etc.

Close third person again - also watch out for ‘thought’ – it may not be necessary. Use only if confusing. Report thoughts as if in the first person – use the character’s voice/tone etc. to make it clear that they are thoughts. (e.g. whiney, if a whine!) Also: realised, decided, supposed, remembered, contemplated, mused, guessed, imagined, figured, reckoned etc. Similarly ‘wondered’ (try turning the thought into a question).

Telling instead of showing: look out for ‘like’, ‘as if’ and ‘seemed’ i.e. ‘the puppy seemed afraid’ – show it ‘the puppy quivered in his arms’

Delete ‘began’, ‘started’, ‘was starting’, ‘was beginning’, ‘going to’ unless essential – distances from the action e.g. ‘she began to do s’th’ – just have her do it!

Are all five senses in use? (colour code description according to sense to check the balance).

Go back and delete all clich├ęs.

Look out for –ing words – e.g. is someone locking the door while sprinting? Is it possible?! Check all very carefully.

Proofread for repeated words – e.g. stop/stopped.

Delete ‘he said’ ‘she said’ as far as possible. Show who is speaking via action instead.

There was, there is, there are, there were, it was, it is are often superfluous. Toss them if you can.

F&R while and as if they make dialogue tags work overtime – e.g. Not: ‘Are you coming?’ said Jennifer as she climbed the fence, but: Jennifer swung a leg over the fence. ‘Are you coming?’

Also dialog, ‘No,’ Jim said, rather than ‘No,’ said Jim.

Watch for too many sentences starting with ‘he’/’she’/’they’ and repeated names.

F&R double spaces.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

McKoala lives!

Although recovery is tedious, I have been able to drop the nanna naps in favour of reading and...tarantara...doing a pernickety edit on WiW. I'm fine as long as I pace myself. Was hoping to go back to work tomorrow, but I think working from home may have to suffice, and may also allow me to continue some work on WiW - 2000 needless words cut out and counting.

I think I've talked about the pernickety edit before. It's when I use find and replace to go through the entire manuscript and look for weasel words that just don't need to be in there. I have a loooong list of offences: phrases, words and even part words. It takes days, sometimes weeks to do this edit properly, so I leave it as close to the end of the process if I can - because if I do any major rewrites, I make myself do it again. Hoping I haven't jumped the gun this time, because two betas are still reading. However, if I make changes, I think I already know where it's going to happen, so I should be able to do a miniature pernickety edit on that section.

I might just browse round the koala victims later today to see if you are all being as virtuous as I am.

Reading: I read Stephen King's 'Under the Dome'. Hm. Slightly disappointing work from The Master this time. Has anyone else read it?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In which McK wallows in self-pity

That laryngitis I've got? Not laryngitis. Probably pneumonia. No wonder I've been feeling so dreadful.

McK's fightback against the germs has ended and she is now doing just what the dr says. Taking a few days off work, swigging the antibiotics and rest. Off for a nice nanna nap now.

See you in a few days with my 500-word escape from smackdown shame.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ah, your little cruelnesses

Whirl advocated silence, WW advocated not eating chocolate, but as we know these things are impossible and thus deeply unfair. However, JJdB said: "Her Koalaness shall write a coherent 500 word essay on any subject provided she does not use the letter 'i'. Also, she shall hunt up three internet links that include music and someone wearing the colour orange.

His Trollishness shall write a coherent 1000 word essay on any subject provided he does not use the words 'the' or 'a' ('an' is allowed.) Also, he shall hunt up three internet links that involve cats running in to things."

Trollish wit led to a slight modification of his punishment. Goblins are suckers for blandishments, unlike Koalas. I didn't see any modification of my punishment. Rank favouritism. However, coming up soon, 500 words without an 'i'. As for music and oranges, do they really go together?

Thanks for reporting in, updating stats. Janey's off Smackdown! Yay!

And I came second in WW's contest, but I think most of you know that. Thanks to all who voted for me!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Updating the bar!

I'm chasing your results down, oh Koala fans, so watch out.

Now, here's a question. I am on Smackdown. As you know, I issue writing punishments to those who are on Smackdown. I considered giving myself some test of pain and suffering, such as eat a bar of chocolate and watch tv every night for a week, but then thought, no, unfair!

What writing punishment should The Koala have to experience?

And if I were to feel like releasing BT from Supersmackdown, what should he have to do first?

Remember, I'm watching you at all times... In particular, Whirl and Sylvia - dropped down for underreporting. Janey, still on Smackdown, although I know you're doing NaNo and suspect you've written yourself up a level by now. Report in!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Publisher's Marketplace

The late, great Miss Snark would slay me with her stiletto if she read this, but my Publisher's Marketplace membership is about to expire, and I'm thinking I may just cancel. I feel I'm not using it, other than to receive the detailed updates and, to be honest, the plain old free updates would probably be fine for me.

It's not that I don't want to be published, it's just that I want to save money and right now this just seems like a waste of it. But, before I kill the membership, am I missing something? Should I be using it in some way that I'm not? i.e. do you have a membership, do you love it, and why?!

Um, yup, must update that sidebar, but FYI, I'm still smacking myself down. Daily.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Writtenwyrdd's competition is on!

Entries went up today! Pour yourself a coffee/tea/large gin and settle in for a read. There are 21 entries in total, the longest around the 1000 word mark.

Good luck to all the entrants and happy reading to everyone else.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

That Shona person

Has had a story published in Silverthought Online this month.

It's a jolly gruesome little tale. If you'd like to read it, go here and scroll down and click on the story title.

So what did I achieve...

Everything except the client stuff, oops! I was harsh and kept saying to myself, look, it's the weekend, it's the weekend, they can wait another day. Let's hope they agree with that...

Edited literally thousands of words today - it was fast, partly because I put one thorny issue aside and just churned through the rest. That means there is still a potential rewrite pending on one section of the latter stages of the book, however I thought it was time to stop procrastinating and move forward, even if it wasn't perfect. So I've now sent the whole thing off to my retired agent for a beta read. I'll wait and see what she says about that part, not to mention the rest, and, assuming (a) that she gets around to reading it and (b) the manuscript doesn't return streaked with her disgust, then maybe, just maybe, I might get it out to her pet agent and a few others before the Christmas slack off.

Now tonight's dilemma is do I jump right into editing my story for Wyrrd's contest, or slack off at Facebook, or go straight to collapse mode on the sofa?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In an editing sweet spot

Man, it feels good. Got a fire lit under me today by an agent who is no longer an agent, suggesting I send something to a contact of hers who is actively looking - they've talked about me, and she's waiting to see something...like WiW.

Um, thanks to home move, new job and, um, months of procrastination, WiW is not yet ready - or not as ready as I want it to be. So this weekend I have a few goals - complete the edit of the last section of WiW, write a leaflet for a client, get started on a web site for another client, vacuum my Floors of Grossness, get Soccer Boy to a soccer trial for the district team tomorrow (he already got through the preliminary trial and is all fired up), fulfil a promise to play with Princess and her new, late birthday present from her cousins, comfort the dog, who was roughed up by a dalmation last week and is still licking her wounds, cook food for next week when I know work will be full on and I need quick reheats or we won't eat at all, do Princess's school homework, find a friend for Soccer Boy to play with tomorrow afternoon so he doesn't annoy Princess and her already-invited friend, stop all four of them from killing one another, and, um, oh yes, DH left on a work trip today so it's just me... Fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Koala disaster!

I lost the challenge sidebar and all the links! Luckily for some, and unluckily for others, I had just completed a check of, um, most of you. If I missed you, please let me know. And, not to worry BT, I remembered exactly where you were...

I'll gussy it up another day. Right now, I'm off to hang up the washing, and then...do some writing! Watch this space for some actual wordage bragging shortly.

Updated to add...bragging. Sat down to write 500 words for Writtenwyrrd's contest and came up with...1493. Heh heh. I'm guessing that's too much, but, hey, I'm back in the saddle! Now all I need is another idea that will only come to 500 words...

By the way, am listening to Empire of the Sun. Awesome stuff. Takes me right back to the 80s. David Sylvian eat your heart out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A warning

Just wanted to let you know I'll be writing tomorrow. Hope you will be too. I'll be checking up on you...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Aw, missing you too!

Things are coming together with the house - only one room left to unpack and we're hoping to do that this weekend. Months of re-organisation will follow, no doubt, but at least we'll be waving bye-bye to the boxes soon.

In other news, I'm loving the job - so much to learn, so much to do, believe it or not, it's fun! My colleague and I unearthed a hidden treasure trove of company-branded polo shirts yesterday, so as of next week we're banishing the horrors of high heels and skirts and turning up in uniform - company shirt and jeans. Ah, bliss. The kids aren't so happy, though, seeing Mummy trot off to work in the school hols. Thanks to Daddy and Grandma they're being looked after, but apparently it's just not the same. Soccer Boy actually cried when I went to work yesterday - heartbreaking!

In writing...yes, well, um. That's all I have to say about that. When I resume checks I think I'll be taking the Deadly Drop myself. Anybody else need to join me? We'll find out soon - watch out for checks in the next week or two, once school is back in and I claim a little time back. Update those figures now!

I do have writing plans, though. I really want to get WiW to agents before the Christmas slump, which means I need to rewrite the ending like, um, now. Hoping to dive into it next week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still knee-deep in boxes!

And I started work - did I mention that? I managed to find a part-time marketing job, locally, so I can do three days a week and with the help of Grandma and Mr Koala minimise the impact on the little koalas. So I'm learning my way around a new house and a new job all at the same time, there's nothing like a little challenge. I'll probably be dropping in and out for the next couple of weeks while I master the new schedules, but if any one in the challenge attempts to take advantage of that...snarl...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We're in!

Totally shattered, knackered and splattered, but we're in. Only a couple of branches have their twigs lined up in the right order, the rest is chaos. But it's a fabulous eucalypt with so much space and we just love it. More another time, just skimming around a few places tonight before crashing out and sleeping the sleep of the utterly exhausted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Headache, neckache, chaosache!

If I said to you, tidy your room and hang everything up, you would understand what I meant, right?

Princess tidied her room and hung everything up. Hung. Everything. Up.

Poor teddy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eucalypt move imminent!

This week, in fact. So I'm deep in admin and oven cleaning. Noice. I'm also critiquing a manuscript (you know who you are) and I'm almost done with that and hope to get it sent back before the move. It's good, by the way.

If I have time I'll check the koala stats tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a little Princess story.

A couple of weeks ago we went en famille to a historic site on Sydney harbour. We joined a guided tour of a series of old buildings, as part of a fairly large group of people. As we wandered in and out of the buildings, Princess swiftly abandoned us for the far more interesting company of the tour guide and before we knew it she was pretty much at the front of the group, chitter chattering away to the poor guide and generally leading the way. The guide, a young woman, didn't seem perturbed, so we let Princess get on with it and trailed along at the back of the group, trying to persuade Soccer Boy that this really was an interesting experience.

As we peered dutifully around an ancient kitchen (look, Soccer Boy, imagine cooking on that old oven! look, Mum, rat droppings in the sink!) we became aware of laughter outside, where the main part of the group had proceeded. Eventually, as the laughter grew louder, we made our way outside. There was a spectacular view of Sydney harbour just outside this building and the tour group was lined up like a bus load of Japanese tourists, cameras at the ready. Nobody was actually taking photos, though, they were all too busy laughing. Because Princess, having detached herself from the tour guide, thought she knew what they really wanted photos of. What? Princess, of course! So there she was, standing in the front of this spectacular view, obligingly striking a series of her favourite fashion poses, hands on hip, pouty lips, the whole lot. After rugby tackling her out of the viewfinders I asked her what she thought she was doing. 'I thought they would like a photo of me.' Of course. Silly me. Why didn't I think of that. With all of Sydney harbour spread out before you, who wouldn't want a photo of a strange six-year old child?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Koala stats updated!

Some leeway given to some of you; none at all to others. Unfair? Well, who's the one not writing, then?

Note new status, Koala Supersmackdown, applied under special circumstances, namely to those who have been on Smackdown for quite some time and then dare to sass the one and only Vicious Koala of Benevolence. Note the lack of image. I'd ask JJdeGoblin to create one, but I fear it would be so bloody and awful and involve so many Troll guts that she would faint at her drawing table, so, please, use your imaginations. And then wash them thoroughly with soap afterwards.

I am proud of many of you for your diligence! I may have to think of Koala Awards for the end of the year, but let's see if you can keep it up and stay away from the bloody fate of....Supersmackdown!

Monday, September 07, 2009

*unsheathes claws*

Thank you so much for the kind messages re. the house sale! You would have given me the warm and fuzzies if I weren't so warm and fuzzy already.

But now...back to business...I'll be checking your stats soon...probably tomorrow...my time...you have been warned...

updated to add...today has been unexpectedly manic so enjoy 24 more hours to make up those numbers...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sold!

Need I say more?

(The house, not the book!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The torture continues...

...cooling off was extended, because buyers had not got formal approval of their finance. We didn't have much choice, but torture! Now have to wait until at least Wednesday, possibly Friday. Sooooo frustrating. What's more I didn't get that perfect job, snarl. Turns out there was somebody even more perfect out there, tarnation. So Friday was not quite the best day ever. However, we had a pretty good weekend and tomorrow is another day...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jittery skittery

So much to do...so much to obsess about...and the two, of course, are mutually exclusive. As some of you pointed out in the comments on my last post, this five day cooling off period is killing me! Every time the phone rings, I think, they're pulling out. The surveyor came yesterday and I dogged the poor man's footsteps. 'Found anything yet? You're spending a long time there, nothing wrong is there? OMG, what's that?!' In the end, of course, he found only one major thing, which is the one we've lived with for five years and will fix if the buyers ask us to - on the other hand, they may just choose to live with it too.

And as for the job...yup, still waiting...torture, torture, torture.

In the meantime, it is left to Princess to provide you with amusement. Last night she woke up with a nose bleed. She chose not to rush to Mummy and Daddy to let them know, she chose to take care of it 'all by me self'. Which meant, instead of walking along the short corridor to our room and a waiting box of tissues, she took the long walk along the other corridor to the little loo for a roll of toilet paper. She showed me this morning how she'd cupped her hands to catch the blood, and the unfortunate little gap between them that she couldn't quite close. The toilet paper being judged inadequate, she walked back along the corridor, tottered down the stairs, still with her little cupped hands, and then realised she couldn't open the door to the family room, because she didn't want to get it all bloody from her hands. Thoughtful. So, instead, she took the long way round, through the formal lounge and dining room, still with her little cupped hands and quite the pool of blood in there by this time, and opened the sliding door with her foot. At which point she finally found a box of tissues that she felt met her requirements. She mopped up her nose, washed her hands. Then she went back to bed.

It was such a lovely surprise for Mummy and Daddy in the morning. A bloody trail leading throughout our home, along the corridor and back, weaving down the stairs, dribbling over all the white carpets...drips, handprints, footprints, the lot. It looks like a murder scene. (Princess was lucky that it didn't turn into one). And it's been a busy day of scrubbing for me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Exchanged on the eucalypt today!

Accepted an offer on Wednesday and signed the contracts this morning. Only a five-day cooling off lies between us and a successful sale! Fingers crossed until 5pm next Friday, please (aussie time). Yes, it is possible to type with fingers crossed. I'm doing it right now.

Blitzed through the little practical test for the job. Waiting to hear, but, honeys, it's all good stuff and I'm feeling cool. A good week so far!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Through to the next stage!

Yippee! I love SEO!

I (cheekily) asked and found out they only interviewed three people out of 60 applicants. I didn't (cheekily) ask how many were going forward out of those three - I only care that one of them is me!

This stage is a 'practical', which is interesting. Given the length of time I've been working in this industry I've never really been asked to do this - people usually go by your portfolio. However, I'm a big believer in it myself, having worked with some junior writers who it turned out couldn't actually write. You see, with a copy portfolio, you never know who might have edited a piece of work before it was printed - and how appalling the copywriter's starting point actually was. So, I have no issue with putting my money where my mouth is and writing a test piece.

Awaiting the details and ready to get my head down and get it back by Friday. A perfectly fair deadline (if he's right about the size of the task).

Soooo glad I'm not sick this week!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Any SEO experts out there?

The potential multiple eucalypt situation has me scouring the job ads. Full time bondage is demanded by Mr Koala.

I'm interviewing for a job as a copywriter for a SEO company. I'd love to get it; they operate from home offices, so basically I'd be able to continue working in the way I do now - except full time and with the work guaranteed and fewer admin hassles. I've written copy for a few optimised web sites, so I have some basic knowledge of what's involved.

Is anyone deeper into this than I am? Got any great tips or buzzwords or new developments I might be able to bring up in my interview?!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All done

Ah, the smugness.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Betas - be ready

Hurtling towards the end of the first phase of editing The Woman in the Wall - thanks to Soccer Boy's evil germs. They robbed me of the ability to speak, which meant I couldn't do any work over the phone, which meant I had to adjust some of my deadlines - giving me some breathing space to get stuck into the editing. I'm really loving this story - let's hope I'm not the only one...

I'm well into the last third of the manuscript now, with a little bit of restructuring to be done. I'm correcting minor things as I come across them, but not being too pernickety as yet. That's at a late stage for me. So my poor betas will get a bit of a warts and all version, but as some of you know, that's not usually too awful in my case, seeing as I spend a lot of my daily life picking warts off other people's writing. Nonetheless, I am deeply imperfect and it's so hard to proofread your own stuff! Logic, in particular, often trips me up, although I'm pretty fast to spot it elsewhere. It's called being too close to your own work...

Updating the koala stats shortly, get the wordage in!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Princess got there before me

Struggling under the onslaught of evil germs that Soccer Boy has unleashed upon me, I reached for my one source of solace - a nice box of tissues. Only to discover that every single one had been wrapped in another one, tied in the shape of a paper doll and put back in the box. Every single one.

*Will be checking Koala stats next week, by the way. Too busy using my manuscript to blow my nose at the moment. AKA deleting text by using the Booger Technique.*

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A staccato serenade

Eucalypt remains unsold. Ooops. Looks like we may become a two-eucalypt family. An utterly cash-free, two-eucalypt family.

An ominous throbbing deep in my throat suggests that I am in the early stages of the fancy virus Soccer Boy succumbed to last week - fancy, because it was One With a Name, as opposed to 'cold'/'flu' (no it wasn't the curly-tailed variety, it was fancier than that, trust Soccer Boy not to get the virus that's actually going around, but something nobody else in the area has - except me, apparently.)

Princess took three toys in for News last week. One of her questions was: what are their names? These toys have no names, but, as ever, Princess was ready:
Holds up toy one: Sally
Holds up toy two: Gaga
Holds up toy three: Stupidhead
Everybody laughed, she reported (as did the many members of the Princess Posse who also regaled me with the tale, just in case she hadn't). I muttered things about her language and getting into trouble with the teacher. Oh, no, says Princess, no trouble with the teacher. Apparently she was laughing louder than anyone.

Um, that's it really. Good weekend otherwise, apart from the eucalypt thing. Some writing even.

Tata.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just a quickie...

Aerin, JC, Precie? Report in! JC, once you were my star...now you're on extreme. With, um, me. I will be redeeming my ways this week, how about you?!

No idea where my badge of humiliation has gone, will track it down later. Right now I'm off to pick up my latest ebay purchase, this being, of course, the manner in which we plan to furnish giant new house. Flash, eh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Princess Priceless

I have lectured both of my kids on the evils of the phrase 'talk to the hand'. Of all the things they can say to me, it is the one most likely to cause me to hit the roof. There's just something about the sheer insolence of it that causes an instant kaboom-flying-plates-and-unearthly-screaming reaction in me.

So the other day, as I remonstrated gently and utterly reasonably with Princess about some minor misdemeanour, she comes out with 'speak to the hand'. After I come down from the roof and start picking up the plates I realise she is gibbering repeatedly: 'but it's not rude, it's not rude, I said speak to the hand, not talk to the hand.'

Is it me or is it her?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Koala updates

Paca post still active below!

No movement on the house at the moment, but somebody came for the third time on Saturday, so surely they must like it at least a little bit? Mind you, I once went to a house five times and then bought a different one. Hey, it was a hard decision.

Koala stats updated. Aerin, I know you've written at least 250 words, but July does not exist on your stats counter, so it's a downward trend for you my friend... Robin, both June and July are invisible to you apparently. JC, love the new look of your blog, but the wordage is low... BT and Janey, have you decided it's safer to remain on Smackdown forever? Everybody else is moving forwards, despite the summer madness - Koala kisses, mwah, mwah.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Partying with the Paca

What with holidays and work and eucalypt open houses, I was just far too busy to take any time off, however, my good friend Shona volunteered to make up for my neglect and head out for the first ever Minions Downunder gathering. Let me hand over to Shona...

It took us all week to decide on the most appropriate location for the first Minions Downunder meeting - it had to be easy to find, on the route to Melbourne and be at least slightly interesting. Hence, Kiama, and its 'famous' blowhole. I vaguely said to Paca - just come off the highway and keep turning left, there will be lots of signposts, you can't miss it. See the potential flaw in that plan? No, Paca does know his left from his right, that's not it. Yup, no signposts. The biggest tourist attraction in the area and it has no signposts. This did not surprise Paca, with his 24-hour experience of driving in Australia. However, the 'keep turning left' advice turned out to be remarkably sage and we managed to meet up.

Alas, the famed blowhole was not blowing, in fact, it was barely breathing. I did, however, manage to photograph Paca in front of a little puff:



We muttered about the so-called 'Little Blowhole', which supposedly gives a better show in moderate seas, but that idea got no further than muttering. As it was completely freezing, we completed our five-minute tour of the local non-event and headed for lunch at that wondrous cultural spot, the local RSL. For more detail on that, and Paca's side of the story, go here.

We fought valiantly through our massive portions (you're in the country now, Mr Shona kept telling us), while catching up - or learning about one another, because, as Paca pointed out we know more about one another's WIPs than our actual lives. There was no alcohol, alas, because we all had to drive afterwards. But it was wonderful to meet Paca in real life; we all had such a nice time. Princess, who is as sassy as Princess Koala, was not 100% well and thus was more whingeing than amusing, but Soccer Boy conducted himself fairly well, even though there was no soccer ball in sight.

In retrospect, when Paca mentioned perhaps going bushwalking, we may have regaled him with a few too many spider and snake stories, to the point where we realised in the car on the way home that he will probably never step off Australian pavement. Honestly, some people do survive! Even that British guy we were talking about at lunch, who headed out with no phone, no food, no water, no map, no idea where he was going and, oh yeah, didn't leave a message to say where he was going. He made it!

Once we had parted, sniff, sniff, and Paca had driven off in his Flying Pea, we had a quick kick of the ball in the park, and then decided, seeing as we were here, we might go and check out the Little Blowhole. Guess what. That one was signposted. And guess what (Paca, don't cry) - action!



See, look, the sun even came out. And, for little people fans (Robin):



No, Soccer Boy is not unusually short, he's standing in a hole for some reason! Note beautiful necklaces, a gift from Paca. They are made from a kind of seed, the name of which I have completely forgotten, but perhaps he will remind me in a comment :-). I told Soccer Boy he could take his to school for news, but he said: 'no way, it's much too precious' - so, Paca, I think he liked it!

So, who's up for the next Minions Downunder meeting?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I know, I know

I've failed you in so many ways. I've returned to my sporadic updating habits and the Koala Stats are screaming out for another update (but that doesn't mean I will not be checking up on you my little possums, because I will be, and Precie and Sarah are in my good books for reporting in right here, my little angel possums, as for the rest of you, if you haven't been firing out plenty of wordage, you will not hear the Koala's wrath approaching until my claws are sinking into your flesh...do I make myself clear?).

So, what have I been doing? Well it's Baby Koala Vacation time, so I'm trying to be a good parent, while dealing with the whole house viewing thing that's going on. Amusing baby Koalas and keeping a house clean and tidy are completely contradictory situations. Plus, Princess turns six tomorrow! My baby's getting bigger!

In the midst of all this, I'm trying to edit The Woman in the Wall, while the next novel idea is scrambling around in my head, and another short story is squeezing its way out through my blood vessels. Phew.

And on the weekend, we saw someone very special... Photo coming up soon!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Will of a Princess is a Mighty Thing

Yesterday morning, Princess mentioned to Mr Koala that she had a sore throat and wasn't feeling well. Ah, says Mr Koala, well, if you need a day off school then you can't go to Princess Chum's birthday party tonight. 'I feel fine,' says Princess and trots off to school. And gets through the whole day. And an hour at home. And gets to the party and lasts an hour, then bursts into tears, confesses to Princess Chum's Mum that she feels really sick, then flops on the sofa and falls asleep right in the middle of the party games.

Poor old Princess. Willpower only gets you so far.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

But, meanwhile, back at the coal face...

I started well last week, writing, editing and sending off a short story to a women's mag (Mr Koala says I must earn more hard cash to pay for the new eucalypt, so I thought I'd try the fun way first). Then it was a slippery slope straight back down to the production of nothing. More of a precipice, really, a smooth one, and well-greased too.

However, today I am going to print out my first draft of The Woman in the Wall and get down to some serious editing. Beta readers - watch out. I hope it will be with you in a month or so. Some of you actually volunteered, you mad things! I'll be calling on you soon... Mwah!

All estmated timings, of course, depend on what kind of a state manuscript turns out to be in once I print it. I'm cautiously optimistic and also really looking forward to reading it again - particularly because when I read over the first 20,000 words a few months ago, having abandoned it for a while, I was quite impressed in a 'what? did I really write this?' kind of a way, so I hope I have the same feeling after reading the whole story. There will be endless logistics to sort out, of course, which is where you come in, my darlings.

And, in the meantime, I'm going to keep a fertile little corner of my mind turned over and ready for short story ideas for womens' mags - there's money in them there hills, my friends, and it's saved me from the wrath of Mr Koala in the past (writing? pah! waste of time! oh, did you say something about a cheque... that's good, keep writing then...).

And I'll be doing a Koala Check in the next 24 hours or so to see who needs to join me in a rankings slide, so get those stats up to date sharpish.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New eucalypt!

After many offstage dramas, with which I shall not burden you, given that you have lives, we have bagged a new eucalypt! Quiet road, seriously massive back yard, pool and a much more sensible layout of house, all of which we will actually use. The Baby Koalas are in ecstasy due to the size of the back yard. I am quietly triumphant due to the back yard, and the amount of time the Baby Koalas will be spending in it, after Mummy locks the back door. Heh heh.

The current eucalypt has its first open house on Saturday, so cross those claws for us!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Koala Offers Summer Vacations

I have benevolently decided that all Koala Challengees may take a two-week summer vacation. You decide when to take it (all heart, me). I'm guessing Sylvia is taking a week right now, and Blogless, you've had yours, my friend, don't you go asking for more, oh Mr Two Weeks In The Sunshine.

Just post your vacation status wherever you usually post your stats.

And I'd like to welcome the lovely Precie to our victim, um, participant list. It's good to see you back around the blogs! Even better to see you volunteer for this (accidental volunteering counts, sorry). Just update me on your word count, or I can check your blog, which I usually do every week or two for those who have wordometers there.

Which brings me to...

Koala Warning!: The eucalypt goes on the market this week, so I am almost finished the branch primping, which means my slackness in checking up on your stats is over. Get 'em updated fastish, because I'll be visiting you all this week and I expect wordage my friends, big wordage!

I will also be officially ending my own End of WIP Break, so I'm back in the rankings. Don't say I'm not a fair bear. (Actually I'm not a bear at all, but I liked the rhyme...)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Werewolf Running into Print

The Koala takes a short break from her paintbrushes to let you know that 'Werewolf Running', written by that Shona Snowden person, will be appearing in Midnight Echo #3.

Midnight Echo is the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association and they even pay. Although it's so little that she has chosen to donate it back to the mag in the hope that they may survive to publish more issues, and thus more of her work...

The Koala read an excerpt from 'Werewolf Running' for Robin's latest voice challenge, right here.

Many nice things were said in the acceptance note, so The Koala is feeling quite smug today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Koala Still Lives! And Punishes!

Glad to set your minds at rest on that one.

The Koala has been super busy, polishing and trimming the eucalypt, even painting where the Little Koalas' toys and heads have cracked the paintwork. It's looking pretty fab, especially where I've been rearranging furniture and ornaments etc; I'm a one-woman home renovator and decorator all wrapped into a single furry package. It goes on the Eucalypt Market next week. Nope, haven't chosen another one yet. So, just a bit frantic. Hence my lack of Koaling right here.

Nonetheless, punishment time... Aerin, first of all - thought you could write 5000 words in a day, eh? Let's see if you can do 5000 words in a week. Post the smackdown badge and this little missive on your blog so we can all yell at you, sorry, encourage you on. Completion of your punishment will get you straight back up on approval status.

Dear All

I have failed the Mighty Koala. I said I would write 5000 words in a day. I didn't. Now she has generously offered me the opportunity to redeem myself by meeting that total in a week. She is all kindness and loving. I will post my start date here so that you can all follow my progress. And she says there had better be progress, or else...

Aerin

And as for Blogless...he who rubbed his sunny holiday in all of our faces...I was going to double the standard 2000-word punishment, but realised he, um, might not reach that target. So Blogless, when you finally return from Paradise, it's the standard 2000 words and a funny internet link for you, plus, oh witty one, you are also to write your own punishment message to post on the side of your blog. And it better be good. And very complimentary towards The Koala. You have been warned.

I will be back; promise!

*oh and I forgot to mention that JJdeGoblin will be around shortly to pull out your toenails*

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Punishments will be issued

Oh, yes. Quake in your booties, BT and Aerin, for the Koala is cogitating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I love Aerin!

For she has just lain down and invited her own evisceration...

"I have a weird favor to ask of you. My birthday present from my fam is writing time - I have the whole afternoon. I'm setting the goal of 5,000 words.

If I don't reach it, will you dole out some McK punishment, as you did to Whirl? I know I'm bringing it on myself, but I have to get someone to keep me accountable and I'm more afraid of you than any of my other writer friends and I mean that in a very loving, admiring sort of way."

Oh, she knows what The Koala likes in her friends. *sets the wordometer* *chk* Go, Aerin!


*The Koala retires for a relaxing little claw sharpen and polish*

The parking ticket was an omen

After three hours at the bank, which gained me hundreds of thousands of dollars and a parking ticket, we bid on the house - twice - got beat - twice. Boo hoo. No tennis court for the Koalas.

Looking at some more places tomorrow and continuing to prep ours for sale. Will drop by when I can, but things continue frantic!

*Updated to add Koala stats... some up, some static, only one dramatic change...

BLOGLESS TROLL, CONSIDER YOURSELF SMACKED DOWN!

ah, that feels better...punishment details will follow...or Whirl can tell you...*

Monday, June 08, 2009

What was he thinking?

Still running around, chasing estate agents and banks and trying to figure out what to do. We now know the house we are looking at is structurally sound (I know Written, fingers crossed!) and the renovation options we are interested in (cash permitting) are all possible, plus that our house is probably worth enough to make the whole thing possible. What we don't know is if our bank would release us from our fixed rate mortgage - which only has a year to run - without penalty, even if we remortgage with them, and for more. The penalty is punitive enough that we don't want to pay it, even if it means we can't buy the new place. But, I hear you say, you're offering them more business in the shape of a bigger, juicier mortgage, plus you've already proved you pay regularly and are generally lovely clients. All correct. Banks are stooopid, it seems.

Speaking of stooopid, there are just so many reasons why this is a stooopid idea. A bear-proof hunting suit weighing a mere 147 pounds. Nippy. And does it work...?

Link courtesy of Whirlochre, and, yes, it made me laugh, so that, plus his 2000 words in a week raises him back up to Happy Koala level. It's all downhill from there, of course...

Thanks to those of you who have dropped in with stats updates, I hope to do a checkarama in a day or so, and saving me a few clicks and a lot of time causes me to look with some favour upon you and may even make the difference between dropping down and staying put. Hint, hint.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Voicing the werewolf

Robin is hosting another voiceover fest - here's my contribution, in the form of the first page or so of a short story about a werewolf.

Check out Robin's blog for more links!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Something a little different

Mr Koala and I are contemplating the purchase of a new eucalypt. (In the middle of a recession, yay! Gulp.)

We live in a beautifully renovated eucalypt with four double bedrooms, two living areas, swimming pool and landscaped garden. It's seriously gorgeous. The eucalypt that has caught our eye is a dodgy old eucalypt with three small bedrooms, no pool and a wilderness outside the front door, complete with redback-riddled brick barbecue, plus a car port and shed that are so shonky the council has insisted that they be imminently demolished. So what is it about this eucalypt that appeals to us? My honeys, despite being located in the middle of a brick suburb, this eucalypt enjoys a land size of twice the size of most blocks around here, including a tennis court. There is some serious outdoor fun to be had at this place. And the renovation potential is massive - although, if we do purchase it, we will be so short on cash it's not funny and no renovation will take place for a number of years. Which will mean us living in what is essentially a three-bedroom place, with one not-particularly-big living area and a small kitchen. It does also have a downstairs/basement area, whose legality is questionable, but that could be used for storage and as a rumpus - however, with no internal stairs I would need something like a spy cam and a walkie talkie to keep an eye on the baby koalas! (Occasionally they claw one another. I know, I know, it's the parenting.)

So what with visits and valuations and stressing about who else is chasing our not-so-dream home, we're a little busy, busy, busy up here in the eucalypt. Nope, no writing. But that's OK, because I'm on a post-WIP break! As for the rest of you... I'll be checking up soon, so get those stats updated.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Book Roast Epilogue

And so we came to the end… sort of. What's an ending without a celebration?! There's no sneaking away into the darkness for the Book Roast. The lights are on, the music's high and the party's right over here. Yes, it's a surprise party for Head Chef, Chris Eldin!

Someone grab that luscious Roast Master Chris and let’s PARTY!!!!!
Link

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Koala movers and shakers

Up: JJde Goblin and Robin

Down: Blogless ('gone missing' might be more accurate)

Same: Chris (for her intention to write - I need to see actual wordcount by next week, though), Sarah (a week's grace for stress due to Prop 8).

In question...report in in 24 hours or I will drop you down anyway... Sylvia? Aerin? JC?

Now for the fun stuff...the Smacked Down. Whirl, largely healed from his scars, has actually written his 2000 word repentance, and, people, he reported that my wrath was a good incentive to write. See, see, how good I am being to all of you? Hm? Love, that's what I'm about. When Whirl fronts up with the final part of his punishment, the Link that Makes the Koala Laugh, he will be free from his enthralment in the Smacked Down Lounge. Any implication that Whirl may already have done this and The Koala may merely have lost track of the link in the chaos of her blog will result in your Going Direct To Smackdown, because The Koala is Never Wrong. Love, like I said. It's all about the lovin'.

Janey, hon...how's it going for you, babe?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lazy Daisy

Just swanning around my desktop, checking out a few blogs. Here's a fabulous link from Janet Reid (so you know it's good stuff, right?). Toni McGee Causey - this post is a must read for anyone with children. You'll laugh, you'll cry...oh go on, just read it already.

And, as for the essentials of life, check this out. Link from Jorge Garcia. Oh, allright then from his blog. Link

Friday, May 22, 2009

Need a little inspiration for dinner?

There are recipes popping up all over the place at the moment. Paca is our most faithful chef, and his latest suggestion looks awsome. Plus, at the moment Ello is talking Asian food and Laughing Wolf posted a Yorkshire Pudding recipe on Susan Wingate's 'Bobby's Diner' thread over at the Book Roast.

Keep cooking!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Post WiP slough? What post-WiP slough?

Thanks to two of my regular clients, who both gave me this Friday as a deadline, my fingers have not stopped tapping on this keyboard. I'm only grateful that it wasn't last week. Editing is easier to get back to than frenzied drafting.

I'll be baaaack....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Driving Induces Vomit

Thank you for your kind thoughts on the previous post, I'm a happy Koala to have finished. Must psyche self up to do those edits, before I forget 'em though, otherwise I know it won't make sense when I pull it out of the drawer!

But let's move away from writing for a while, to the trials of everyday life. Like driving along one of Sydney's major arteries, as I did today. Parramatta Road is a two, sometimes three lane road, not a motorway or highway as such, but one of the main roads that slice up the city, running from the centre out to the suburbs. A highway does run parallel to it, and, man, I wish I had been on that highway today. I hadn't been along Parramatta Road in a while, and I vaguely remembered it being very busy and lined with shopping centres, factories and offices, of varying degrees of tattiness. That was spot on. What I had forgotten was how rough the road surface is. As I drove along it, my poor old car (note: sedan, not 4WD, alas) yawed from side to side, simultaneously plunging down into potholes, or up over dodgy pothole repairs. It was like being on a ride at Disneyland (:-)). Except it went on for much longer. I don't get travel sick, however, after 20 minutes or so of this, not only was I feeling green, but dizzy, and wondering if I needed to pull off and take a break.

There's not much point to this, other than a whinge. I survived. I was outraged. The meeting went well, thanks. I had a nice cup of tea.

And that, my friends, is bathos and your post for today.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

She's out!

And I'm finished. 75,000 mostly harrowing words later, and the Woman is finally out of the Wall. Poor thing.

And, of course, in some ways the story turned out not to even be about her at all. Isn't that always the way? Just who she is, how she gets out of the wall and what the story is really about, are secrets that await the loving eyes of my beta readers. (Most of you probably know who you are...if you're in doubt, you'll find out sooner or later...)

So, over the next week or so I'll work on a few edits I know I need to make, then the Woman Finally out of the Wall, will become the Woman Stuffed in the Bottom Drawer For a Few Weeks, so I can re-read in a month or six weeks with something of a fresh eye, before she's allowed out of there and into the world. Of Loving Betas.

I've had a pretty ferocious week of writing this week - check the Koala's stats! I'm going straight back to fully approved and stamped with love come check in time. I'm somewhat drained. Still, I'll dive into the edits in a day or so and then I'll claim a post-WIP break to read something that will make somebody in pink stripy socks jump for joy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Something sweet-smelling on the barbecue today...

Check out the Book Roast. You'll find somebody I'm very close to hanging round there today... Well, later today, once she arises from her slumbers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome to Koala Smackdown!

Believe it or not I have showed restraint over the past four or five months. I have attempted to be understanding; I have, in my benevolent Koala-like manner, occasionally offered writers a slightly longer piece of rope with which to hang themselves. Now, at last, the time has come. My claws are unsheathed and sinking into not one, but two, miscreants...

I invite you to view the bloody remains of:

Whirlochre
and
Janey

Not only must these two now display the butt-kicked badge prominently on their blog, they must feature underneath it the following message:

Dear All

Alas, I have not met the Koala's kind, generous and loving challenge of writing a mere 100 words six days a week. You may not see me for some time, because the depth of the clawmarks in my butt make it impossible for me to sit in a computer chair.

I understand that the only way to be free of the humiliating stain of displaying my 'The Koala Kicked My Butt' badge, and to placate the enraged Koala, is to write a minimum of 2000 words in a single week and also to direct the Koala to some highly witty web site or YouTube video where she may laugh off her disappointment in me. That modest target has been set by the Koala while in a relatively good mood. Further infringements will incur further challenges of increasing complexity.

I also understand that a Goblin, disguised as JJdeBenedictis, will shortly appear and pull out all my toenails.

Yours sincerely

Whirlochre/Janey

PS Other, more successful, participants in the Koala's challenge may also feel free to mock me

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Koala Threat Level: Extreme

You know who you are. Smackdown approaches. 48 hours to produce some wordage or you will wear the badge of humiliation.

You have been warned.

The Koala is grumpy. She may have to take it out on you.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

What a week

Just completely manic. A full day on canteen, plus bits and pieces of other volunteering (I'm such a sucker for help requests), a faraway specialist appointment for Soccer Boy, a new client meeting, a full day at the Athletics Carnival (SB just missed the 200 metre final, came equal fourth in 100 metre final and seventh in 800 metres, he's very smug; Princess, um, last in her one and only race, but still smiling); not to mention all the other things I have now managed to completely forget about. The dog has not been walked for days, the library books are beyond overdue and we have raided the freezer down to the very last meal.

So, today, with a lovely empty day ahead of me to catch up with work, domestic admin, walk the dog, make some more food, do the washing etc, what did I do?

I went to sleep for four hours and then added 500 words to my much neglected WIP.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beware of your dreams

I read a sign today that said: Beware of your dreams, for they may come true. The dark streak inside me loved that thought. Then I re-read it and, alas, the real message was 'Be aware of your dreams, for they may come true'. Which I should have known as the shop was one of those fluffy-pillowed, candle-scented visions of tat that contains nothing of any use whatsoever.

But...to get back to my first, much better, reading of the sign. My life is full of examples of the danger of dreams. Take Mr Koala, who, while we lived in London, dreamed of returning to his sun-blessed homeland where everybody knocked off work at 5pm to go surfing and all the trains had functional aircon. When we rocked up at the doors of Oz, he discovered that he'd completely forgotten about the fact that, although winter is brief, it's darn cold without heating in the houses, that Aussies now have the longest working hours in the world and that the aircon on most trains had broken down during his twelve-year absence.

It's just another version of 'be careful what you wish for', I suppose - but I like it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Beware the awesome power of Find and Replace

For some reason, no doubt incredibly important at the time, I decided change the name of a supporting character in WIW/WIP from Chris to Jason. It was less than thirty seconds work with Find and Replace.

And that is how I ended up with another character suddenly renamed 'Jasontine' and the festive season newly dubbed 'Jasontmas'.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Koala is Not Happy


Look to the right! I'm not pleased with a single one of you! I'm only moderately pleased with Sarah, whose status is dubious in the first place, due to trying to squeeze seven days into the weekend. The rest of you - bad, bad, bad! Get back to the grindstone! That's a computer, you know, not a desk ornament.

Report in, please: Chris, Robin and Sylvia. Grump. Snurfle.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More about Disneyland

One Saturday in February, Mr Koala went out shopping for mundane things, such as medicine and schoolbooks, and came home with a holiday to Disneyland.

I chastised him mightily with my mighty claws, but recognised a done deal when I saw one and settled down to paying very little attention to the details, merely muttering 'mortgage' every now and again when I passed him on the branches of the eucalypt. Soccer Boy inadvertently won additional mothering love with his comment of 'I'd rather go to New Zealand'. Princess was a lost cause from the start. 'Princesses! Princesses! Princesses!'

And so the time came, and we boarded the flying eucalypt and landed in an artificial land of multi-lane freeways and buses with windows you couldn't see out of thanks to the advertising plastered all over the glass. When we arrived in Anaheim my first thought was 'nature - smashed flat'. The artificiality of it all: the motels made to look like ancient castles, the fancy paving, the trees trimmed into unnatural forms. And that's before even going through the gates of Disneyland.

It was a grumpy koala that made her way to the theme park on the first day, mostly sticking her tongue out at Mr Koala's back. But then...but then...wait for it... More artificiality; a fake Main Street with every shop selling a souvenir or sugar overdose. Fake New Orleans, fake Frontierland, fake Tomorrowland - well, OK, that one has to be kind of fake. The artificiality shocked me - even the food was artificial, or made that way - even the bananas coated in chocolate and nuts. The excess, the consumption! Was this really the America our children should see?

'Rides! Rides! Rides!' Well, OK then, baby koalas, I suppose I'll have to go on a ride. I can't even remember what our first ride was. Whatever it was, I loved it. And the next, the next and the next. The whole place was totally dedicated to me having fun. Oh, yes, and the baby koalas too. And, once I got over myself, I did have fun. Heaps of fun. To the point where when I saw people walking around who weren't smiling, I had a little internal surge of anger: 'why aren't you smiling? Everything here is fun! I'm completely won over, why aren't you? WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?'

I proudly admit that I am a Born Again Disneyland Fan.

Question: the President's pardoned turkey ends up a Disneyland. In a small enclosure, not sure it's such a great pardon. But...there's only one...what happened to last year's? And the year's before? etc etc. Is the pardon only valid for one year?! Is there no handstamp for reentry to the Happiest Place On Earth for last year's turkey?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Did I mention I was going away?

I did. I'm back. I've returned to tales of deadly plague. Apparently as of today Australian flights are sending any passengers from the US with flu symptoms to some kind of limbo. We flew in yesterday: me with laryngitis, Princess with travel vomiting and Soccer Boy with a massive sneezing fit moments before we landed. I think we narrowly escaped limbo.

Just shattered after a week of Disneyland frenzy. I'm not completely sure that we actually slept. Until the flight back, when all four of us fell completely unconscious within five minutes of sitting down. The flight was rough, I kept waking up from roller coaster dreams to find that the plane was acting like one. I was tired enough just to poke the sick bag at Princess and roll back over to sleep again. "Roll back over" meaning, move my head one inch to the left or right.

Kids tired and grumpy, dog excited and grumpy, Mr Koala working today - and grumpy. Planning on doing some domestic admin and then collapsing with a book for a few hours. Back to reality tomorrow - get back to grips with WiW and seriously consider looking for some new copywriting clients. Grr, recession.

In the meantime, where do I go to find the most detailed, gossip-filled report of The Great Meeting in London?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Unfinished! And Facebook!

Having discovered there was more to the latter section of WiW than I originally thought, plus getting a last-minute piece of work, I am going to have to take a break from it for ten days or so. It's so frustrating! Just hoping I can pick up the threads when I return - and that it makes sense to me again!

And on to Facebook. There are some things about it I love. Scrabble, anyone?! The instant life updates from friends. But the rest - I think I'm getting sucked into a real time-waste. Kind of like as predicted.

What do you think of Facebook? I'm considering giving it up altogether - tell me your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interview

Women on Writing has a nice interview up with The Koala's good friend, Shona Snowden:

Check it out!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Over 60,000 now!

And romping through a great scene which is going to be about twice as long as I thought, but that's not a problem for all kinds of reasons. Let the characters talk all they want! They're saying such fascinating things. Fervently hoping this is not some kind of psychosis.

Slightly worried there are more words required to get to the end of the novel than I am physically capable of typing by my deadline of next Sunday night...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

WIP it good!

I've slithered past the 55,000 word mark on The Woman in the Wall, with at least three more chapters to go; a key moment that always proves to me that I am nearing the end of something that will turn out to be of actual book length. The Grand Climax is looming and I know roughly what is going to happen, which gives me the confidence that I will actually get there!

I'm hoping to crash through to the end with a writing marathon over the next ten days or so. I'm not entirely confident, thanks to the school holidays, which started yesterday. So if I'm not blogging much, it's because I'm squeezing writing around child needs. (The eyes are infinitely better, thank you for asking, but I think I'll avoid contact lenses for a while! I'll settle for being a specky without actual pain).

I'd really like to get the first draft of this completed if I can, because we're going on holiday for a week in the second week of the school holidays and that would be a fantastic, and complete, brain break before jumping into the rewrites and edits I will have to do before sliding it under the eyes of the first beta readers.

How are your WIPs going? Do you have any official, or self-imposed deadlines, that you need to meet?

I'll be cruising your blogs shortly to ensure you've been keeping up with the Koala Challenge. My claws are itchy, so be ready...

Updated to add...

My claws are more than itchy. Naughty, naughty writers! Tragic, tragic excuses:

"My dog was sick and ate my manuscript! Errr...except not in that order." *

"06-Apr = Got a bad case of the Mondays.
07-Apr = Apologies to Monday. I seem to have the flu" **

Note how many of you are sliding down the scales of approval... Socks up! Pronto! I want 100 words or more from every one of you today!

*This writer has no dog.

** Monday does not accept your apologies. Monday also has claws.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tentatively returning to the blogosphere

If you like pink, look into my eyes, baby... Yes, even the kid are scared. I have zombie eyes. However (clutches large piece of wood) I think the unearthly colour of my eyes is my last remaining symptom.

Speaking of zombies... There's a small, fluffy black and white cow grazing in my back garden at the moment. He/she (I haven't examined that aspect yet) appears perfectly content. However, I will shortly be taking my deadly claws to that innocent creature in order to satisfy the bloodlust of my blog readers. Yes, it's all your fault. I'm merely your pawn. Updates coming soon.

Speaking of zombies...Aerin presented me with the much-coveted ZOMBIE CHICKEN award!!

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…”

I know I have many zombie fans here. Take a bow Sylvia, Whirlochre, Robin and just to be thorough, I'm re-awarding it to BT and FH, because even though I know you already have it, your love of zombies is such that I just can't bear to miss you out.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Creeping back...

The doc gave me some magical new eye drops that are taking away much of the pain of the eye problem - apparently it's a viral infection and will have to run its course, but he's hoping that by the start of next week it will be receding. I hope he's right and in the meantime these drops help a lot.

So I'm still a shady lady and still avoiding too much reading/computer time, but I'll be checking out a few blogs over the next few days.

Anybody want to tell me where the 'not to be missed' stuff was in the past week or so?!

Thanks for all your good wishes!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still swirling in a maelstrom of pus

Ah, a post title worthy of Whirlochre. Still on medical leave here. Keep writing over there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Computer ban!

I have an eye infection, and right after the doctor had looked at it and said 'oh my god' (high on my list of things you never want your doctor to say) and prescribed eye drops, rest and sunglasses, he said the following:

No computer
No reading
No tv

Doesn't he realise that's all I do?

See you in a day or so...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Koala challengees

I haven't had time to cruise the blogs this week, so please report in here with your wordcounts for last week and I will dole out appropriate rewards and punishments.

Thank you for your honesty (at least I hope I can thank you for that...)

Monday, March 23, 2009

The winner is...

My, this judging thing is so exhausting. Four entries, all hilarious, one only vaguely comprehensible, one actually featuring a cow, three verging on smut (surprise), two cleverly mimicking Robin and Whirl's tones of voice (no, not theirs)...all impressive. I had to read them several times to choose my winner...but I can now announce...it's Sylvia! Mostly thanks to the hilarious ending. FH was a close second, for clarity and use of cow.

Congratulations; when the zombie cow starts its World Travels, it's coming to you. Having a few cow sourcing issues at the moment, but watch this space and I'll update asap. Sylvia's winning entry is followed by the other three, in no particular order.

Sylvia's story

His fingers tapped on the old oak table as he looked around the pub. Dodgy foreign lager swirled through his stomach; he had stumbled into this dump and downed a few pints to try to neutralise the rat Madras he'd swallowed half-chewed at The Raj next door. He should have gone to the chippy rather than poisoning himself at the Indian. He should have stayed in but lately the walls had been closing in on him and even the zombie-ridden local was better than suffocating in the dingy semi he called home.

A sharp crash from the street ricocheted into the pub, startling the surrounding conversations to a halt. He walked up to the bar to take advantage of the lull and order a quick pint without having to shout but then something made him turn to look at the battered doorway with the photocopied fivers stapled to the top of the frame, just out of reach. That's when he saw her walk in, the woman of his dreams. The spitting image of today's Page 3.

***

I hesitated for just a second, trying to look into the dark gloom of this dive, everything silhouetted from the bright fluorescent lights of the parking lot. I didn't need to see to know that every eye in that damn place was focused right on me, thinking this little lady looks like she might be lost and I might be just the man to save her. I put on my best steel magnolia face and looked around the joint for a pay phone. Some asshole had rear-ended my car and bitchin‚ about the size of my rental like it was my fault for being stopped there. Then the bastard had the nerve to mistake me for a damn yankee and I just blew. No way was I leaving this hell-hole without getting the cops to put down their donuts and write the idiot up. I had my dead cell in one hand and his car keys in the other: if he tried to disappear while I found a phone so help me god I'd keep his car.

Then like something out of a movie, everything changed. That was when my blue eyes adjusted to the light and locked onto the big brown ones of a hunk holding up the bar. He looked like the poster-boy for British cool, a combination of Paul McCartney and Dudley Moore with just a touch of Peter Sellers at the temples. And like a chill creeping up my back, I could feel the future surrounding us, the cheap and dirty motel room that we'd check into, the crazy night discovering each other, the afternoon sun peeking through the window to spotlight the two of us tangled together in sheets stained with blood and sweat and rum. I stood there in the doorway, like there was no one else in the world, just me drowning in those chocolate brown eyes of his.

***

He gulped a breath and his fingers clutched the bar as if it were going to save him from drowning in the pale curves of cleavage highlighted by the flickering bare bulb swinging from the ceiling.

Time solidified like the tin of syrup stuck to the back of the larder. After a century he remembered to breathe and a few decades later he managed to let go of the bar that he was clutching onto as if it were going to save him from falling into that Irish-Eyes-Are-Smiling face of hers. He patted his pockets looking for his fags and then remembered he'd given them up for Lent and put his hands back onto the bar, never looking away from the blonde-haired angel in the doorway who might or might not be his redemption.

***

I watched him, tall, handsome, a half-smile on his face as if he knew something special, as if he'd seen the same vision I had, sweaty limbs entwined together. He moved his hands around his body, as if reassuring himself that he was really there in the flesh and not just dreaming this moment of the two of us alone in the world together. I forgot all about that asshole with the Range Rover standing outside waiting for me to give him his keys. I forgot about every other lecherous jerk in the bar staring at me like my clothes might fall off any minute. I just started walking towards him, too far gone to play hard to get, to try to pretend like I hadn't noticed him.

***

He felt his feet start to shuffle him forward, almost against his will, as if he'd landed in an episode of the Thunderbirds and her eyes were the puppet strings, dragging him across the room towards her: his own personal Lady Penelope here to invite him into her pink Roller and drive away. The forces pulling them towards each other were so strong that they almost collided.

"Ayup chuck," he spluttered.

"Lord have mercy," she said at the same moment.

***

I stood there batting my eyes like a frog in a west Texas hail storm. "Say what, sugar?" He flashed me a hundred watt smile and said something that sounded like, "You've pulled."

"Pulled what, honey?" I was beginning to realize that we maybe didn't have a language in common but it wasn't like talking was what I had in mind.

I smiled all friendly like to put him at his ease.

He smiled back. „Wanna shag?‰

I figured he must from the Middle East or somewhere like that where it‚s polite to trade carpets although I declare I have never saw anyone from those parts looking quite so much like they belonged on an episode of the Monkees. "Hey, your English is pretty frigging good," I told him trying to build his confidence up.

That‚s when he broke my heart. „Christ,‰ he said, „I need a fag.‰

***

As soon as he said it, he knew he‚d made a mistake. Her words knocked against his skull like a Steve Davis break. He had no idea how a quiet night at the boozer had ended up with this nutter carping on at him about three dollar bills and such a goddamn waste and how freaking unfair it was. She must be one of those rabid morality types who wouldn't let a bloke have a ciggie in peace.

"Bloody yanks," he muttered and turned away to walk back to the bar.

He lurched forward as something hard and heavy caught the back of his head. He landed on the edge of one of the sticky, low tables and then slipped and rolled into a puddle of lager or worse. He crawled forward to the gents and not until he was under cover of the doorway, did he finally dare to look back at the daft tart with the perfect tits. He watched her pick her phone up off the floor, where it had landed after bouncing off of his skull, and storm out into the night.

He should have gone to the chippy.



Fairyhedgehog's story

"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Robin asked. She was standing next to Whirl in the muddy field with a lasso in her hand, looking uncertainly at the cow that was circling in front of them.

"Actually --" Whirl said.

"Okay then, here goes." Robin flung the lasso and it caught the cow's horns. "Now you all give this a frickin good pull." She pulled hard on the rope, leaning back into Whirl's body as she did so. "Hey, you all have some pretty good muscles going on there," she said. He reached around her to grab the rope and she leaned more heavily on him. His feet went out from under him and he landed on his back in a cow pat with Robin on top of him.

Robin wriggled round so that she was lying face down on him, their lips almost touching, his breath warm on her face, his toffee coloured eyes drawing her gaze. Whirl looked over her shoulder and tried to back away. He managed to slide through the dung for a few inches before coming to a stop. Robin craned her neck to see what he was looking at and saw a giant tongue dripping in front of her. Above the tongue were bovine nostrils puffing steam which misted the ring that hung there.

"Holy crap!" she said. "It isn't a zombie cow after all."

Robin
As soon as my eyes glommed on those kilted up gams of his, I knew who he was; knew what was hidden behind that dark ducky of a codpiece. I'd been in there before, or really, it had been into me.

(Not the ducky...)

It was the 80's and I was in Europe for the first time. I'd been wanting and wanting a taste of something exotic, and, well, you wouldn't think only an English accent would've qualified the boy, but with his particular version, it sure as hell did. That and he had the most exquisite eyes. In a certain slant of light, they were ochre cat's eyes, intelligent and tricky, and given to...well, I'm getting ahead of myself again. (It could fairly be said - I might be prone to such things.)

So there we were in this London bar, him with his wild messy hair and me with my bra locked away in my luggage, with me fairly saying with whatever I had going on, and that may have included words, that I was interested.

We lounged against the smooth wood of the bar, listening to the music inside, and we drank; me my white wine, him his nasty room temp brown beer. I hated that stuff at first, until I tasted it on his tongue on our first date, which happened to coincide with us leaving the bar and walking down Picadilly Circus into the wee hours. Then I loved it.

When dawn threatened to invade our eye sockets and the rain started in on us, we got serious about shelter, found a cab and wound up at his place, and onto his sofa, the scene of: Second Act - First Date.

Yeah.

One look up at those eyes of his and we both decided it was time for the rest.

I didn't see him after that week was over. I mean, it wasn't like I had the money to pop over whenever I wanted, or to stay either, not for very long, or even to talk on the phone much.

But the intensity of those days stayed with me, and they flooded back full bore when I caught a glance of those naked legs again.Not sure he knows yet it's me he's been talkin' to, not before today, anyway. But he was my first taste of exotic, and for that, I thank him.


Whirlochre
Whirl and Robin flopped together till the beads of sweat on their noses blended as one.

‘Never thought this would happen,’ said Robin.

‘Me neither,’ sighed Whirl.

With nods of weary resignation, they both drew the deepest of breaths and got stuck back in, nibbling hard on the flesh at the base of one another’s necks. For a full half an hour they chomped, until finally Whirl broke off.

‘It’s no good,’ he said, looking flushed. ‘I can’t keep it up.’

‘Me neither,’ added Robin, her lips swollen redder than a KO-ed boxer’s face. Wriggling in her bacon rind cocoon, she rolled back against a heap of boiled cabbage. ‘If I could just reach inside my pants...’ she gasped.

Whirl sniggered. Even in a dire emergency such as this, the scope for puerile humour afforded by the transatlantic gulf in meaning between pants (as in pants) and pants (as in pants) was too much to bear.

‘What’s so funny?’ said Robin, popping a shoulder from the flaps of fat.

Whirl made to shrug, but he was similarly pinned fast. Composing himself, as befitted the grim reality of the situation, he said, ‘so, what’s in your pants?’

‘In my pocket,’ Robin continued, ‘I have a laminated photograph of Evil Editor. If that can’t cut us loose, nothing will.’

Whirl smiled. Of all the people to find yourself trussed in strips of knotted pig flesh with, on a giant dinner plate piled almost to the ceiling with overboiled vegetables, on the occasion of His Obnoxious Wartiness, the Ogre Lord Buttpusoozysquirt’s thousand and thousandth birthday (this is a date, remember?), who better to have as a companion than Robin?

With a look of determination not witnessed since Billy “The Hoss King” McTossenae rode a freshly castrated buffalo into submission at the 1905 San Antonio rodeo, Robin tore open her bonds.

‘Listen, babycakes,’ she said, ‘We better get the hell outta here before the chef sends us up in the dumb—’

Darkness consumed the crescent moon of the potato roulade, and with a rumble, the dinner plate began its slow ascent. With the deftest of strokes, Robin slid the tip of her idol up along Whirl’s inside leg — round under his buttocks, in a wiggly line across his back, to finish with a wing-like flourish above his collar bone.

‘Hey,’ she said, ‘when the creative urge strikes, you gotta go with it, sweetie.’

The hatch of the dumb waiter swang open. At the end of a large wooden dining table, His Obnoxious Wartiness sat with his knife and fork held aloft in readiness, and a paper hat nestled atop the dandruff bloom of his mullet.

‘WHERE MY ICKLE PEEPUL?’ he roared.

As the scabrous butler bore the dinner plate across the chamber, Robin peered over the edge. ‘No way in hell we can jump off. We’ll have to take our chances on the table.’

‘Look,’ cried Whirl, cupping two heavy balls to his groin. ‘These peas are like boulders. Maybe we can fight our way out.’

‘Great idea,’ said Robin, ‘ let’s tool up.’ Crouching low, she slid a sausage between her legs from beneath a fluff of pureed swede and hoisted it onto her shoulder. ‘Did I ever tellya I once coached my neighbourhood little league?’

With a clunk of porcelain on wood, the dinner plate landed at the foot of the giant’s bib.

Whirl rubbed the biggest of his peas hard against the leg of his trousers. ‘Hope you’re Ok with cricket style, Rob.’

‘Hey, ‘ she snarled, ‘just throw it straight at me and I’ll have his freakin’ eye out...’




Sunday, March 22, 2009

Circumstances give a competition extension

I've just realised I won't be at my computer today, other than about ten minutes now, so no results until tomorrow, probably late Monday your time. Late entries OK if anyone wants.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Competition Entries and back to Brazilian

Get 'em in. Boys, it's looking like an all-girl affair right now. I know that either lures or offends you, either way, if you want to defend your honour, get going. Deadline approaching! The Koala Awaits.

Re. Brazilians - check out this (very brief) article. Actually my question to you is not about Brazilians. I would like to know the details of your latest neck wax. Please. Spill all. Particularly why.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why I'm not posting...

Too much work, and so many good things going on around the blogs this week, including my very own inaugural competition (see below), so there's no time, no time!

Here are some cool places to go, though:

A secret agent 250 word review at Miss Snark's First Victim - I'm number #14 and Chris is #25. This blog is a new discovery for me, check it out.

Um SS@Starbucks is posting some great stuff on voice etc, and Paca's basketball tournament is ready for entering. Sorry, no more links, in serious time crush here, must gooooo...
Link

Sunday, March 15, 2009

You are in my dreams. Also, zombies.

I had a dream last night in which Whirl and Robin were dating. Weird.

I'll leave you to imagine the rest. But then you have to tell me, because this bizarre mind spasm has inspired the first ever 'The Travels of the Zombie Cow' competition. Yes, the nascent Zombie Cow has expressed an interest in seeing the world and may shortly be visiting a mailbox near you.

While I am assembling the raw meat, sorry parts, necessary to birth Zombie Cow, I want you to tell me what happened on Whirl and Robin's first date. The funniest entry will suffer, sorry, win the first bloodsucking, sorry, visit, from Zombie Cow. Who may have to have a name, but that might be a whole other competition...

Meanwhile - Whirl and Robin - where's the date? What are they saying to one another? What's going on in their little beating hearts? Tell all...

*Edited to add* If you're not sure who Whirl and Robin are, here's a crash course:

Whirl: Male. Brit. Has a cat called Geoff. Makes friends with mules and flies. Has a Girl of Whirl and together they have produced Son of Whirl. A paragraph or two away from finishing first novel. May once have been an actor. Now he calls it 'education'.

Robin: Female. American. Has a cat called Maddison. Married to a Brit. Four daughters between them. Sassy. Stalks Evil Editor. Likes all things Welsh, wine and hot tubs. Just finished first novel.

Make the rest up!

Deadline is Friday, end of day US time! Email your fabulosity to: mckoala at optusnet dot com dot au. Entries and winner will be posted next Monday.

No entry=no cow!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What to do about the Zombie Cow?

I think there may have to be a competition. Hm?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why writing is like baking Bat Fingernail Pie

It's a piecemeal process of patience and persistance. First, you need bats. Then you need to feed them right and look after them while their fingernails (which are, as everyone knows, the truly tasty part of the bat) grow. Mostly you're doing that at night, of course. You also have to fend off the Walkers Chips tasting department, who are currently very interested in Bat Fingernail as a new chip flavour.* Then, once the bats' fingernails have grown, you have must trim them, down to the quick but no further, while avoiding the cross bat's remaining (very sharp) fingernails, not to mention its teeth. Repeat 76,581 times, because that's how many fingernails you will need to make your pie. And that's the easy bit.

You see, the success of a Bat Fingernail Pie depends on the way in which the fingernails are arranged. You cannot simply dump them all into a pie dish. Oh, no. You must arrange one on top of the other, in a meticulously constructed tower of fingernails. A single error might cause the whole thing to come crashing down, and that's pretty frustrating when it's fingernail #76,000 or later. And don't forget the Puffin Tail Pastry on top, but that recipe is a whole other post in itself.

Then we have the cooking of your pie. A truly great Bat Fingernail Pie is not solely about arrangement, but about how you treat your arrangement afterwards. The oven must be hot, but not too hot. The room must be silent. The wind must be an easterly and you must gag your agapanthuses, because the whispering of their leaves is so loud that it will invariably cause your pie to sink.

And if you get it all right, every single bit of it, you will give your Bat Fingernail Pie to somebody else to tear apart. Did you make the mistake of thinking it might be for you? No, no! The best Bat Fingernail Pies are those that are intended for others; built with love, cooked with care and then, we hope, consumed with thought.

I did have a reason for writing this post, but I'm afraid I got so carried away with my recipe I forgot what it was. I think it was that the 100 words a day of the Koala PHC challenge will build up in time to the most delicious Bat Fingernail Pie.

*See Whirl

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I'm revolting myself

I'm writing one of the most difficult scenes I've ever written. I should be doing it right now, not lollygagging round here, but I need a mental break. And I feel sick. Actually sick.

I've upset myself before, usually by killing off characters I've got to like, but this is a whole other league. Such a tiny scene, too. Although big in its impact on my character, and the book too. And me. The things I've just had to research to write this were horrific. The way I am combining them is even worse. This is only going to be a few hundred words, but jeez. It's not sex, it's not violence, well not in any traditional sense - but it's awful. And it happens too, that's the worst thing, it's not fantasy or paranormal, it's reality.

I don't think I'm writing a horror story, but much more of this and I will be.

Ever disgusted yourself with your own writing?

*updated to add - finally finished and I think I'm going to be eating vegetarian for a few days now*

Friday, March 06, 2009

Who wants a zombie cow?

I know I'm going to regret this.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Koala Challenge. And Whirlochre.

The Koala is delighted with most of her challengees and momentarily retracts her claws for some team head patting...excellent...fine work...you're getting the hang of it...

Now. Enough with the nicey-nicey. Claws halfway out. Aerin and Janey, time for updates my friends.

Now. Claws all the way out. WHIRL! LAST CHANCE! WHERE'S THE WORDAGE? AM I GOING TO HAVE TO COME AND GET YOU?

SMACKDOWN APPROACHES!

Feast your eyes on my last victim (note that this is the post-surgery appearance):