Robert Pattinson goes Outback

It was even bigger news in South Australia than Kirsten Stewart snogging her director and breaking R Pat’s heart… that he’s filming a movie in South Oz in January next year called The Rover.

Well I’m excited. I wasn’t writing when the Kidman/Jackman Australia movie hit the screens. I know Tourism Australia planned huge promotions around that and I’m sure they’ll piggyback on the R-Pat back too if they can.

I keep reading that rural romance is doing really well in Australia right now and hopefully for those writing rural themes, there may also be a kick to come from this movie, especially from an international audience (and maybe international agents/publishers)… she says fingers crossed 🙂

I don’t write rural romance in the sheep-shearing/cattle station sense, but my current book does have big sections which occur in outback South Australia, the Flinders Ranges and north of there, The Ghan railway track region and then a climax on the Birdsville Track, so I’m hoping there’s lots of red dust gonna get caught in R Pat’s Akubra…

Meanwhile, we leave tomorrow for our Noosa trip, driving across the Hay Plains… my husband keeps on about ‘making hay while the sun shines’ in terms of our driving and I snicker. The kids are really excited about visiting Queensland but I don’t know if they’ve quite grabbed the concept of three days driving. They’re mad keen on the whole Olympics thing at the moment and I keep getting asked if Queensland is further than London and couldn’t we go to London this time instead.

I am on track with the revisions I’ve been doing all July but I can’t decide whether to print and take the book with me, or use the holiday as a break from it and come back with fresh eyes. Given the Olympics will give us lots to watch at night, I’m kind of leaning towards the latter.

I think it will feel like I’ve left the baby behind…


Heroes as chocolate

If you happened by yesterday’s post, it won’t surprise you that I’ve been thinking about how to describe my hero as chocolate…

Last night was perfect for research. Thursday night is movie night in our house (The Guard – an Irish flick – really good movie BTW); and just to digress a moment. Here’s a reason why I love my husband. We’re in a program called QuickFlix which is a mail-order DVD service. At any given time we usually have two DVDs in the house. Some time yesterday I said to him, what DVDs do we have tonight? and he said: The Guard and Puss In Boots. The Guard is about drug dealers in south-west Ireland and a copper who’s about as anti-hero as you could possibly get. It’s a really great movie. But that v Puss In Boots? How cute is it to be married to a man who has Puss In Boots in his movie queue? (Maybe I better check it’s not an x-rated Puss…)

Anyway about the chocolate and research. We had a box of Cadbury’s Roses to scoff during the movie…

The words I most use to describe my hero are: tall, rangy, that he has tawny hair, and if I relate him to an animal it’s usually to a lion. (Lion-tawny; lion-quick).

My favorite chocolate bars would be Flakes and Cherry Ripes. But a tall skinny bar of chocolate didn’t feel right. With more ‘Roses’ research, I decided anything with a soft-centre was out, because Tate isn’t soft-centred.

He’s very simple & straight-forward. Definitely non-fussy. Which put Picnic bars out of the picture. Maybe a Crunchie? Honey-comb might be moving on the right track.

In the box of Roses (which we usually keep in the fridge) one of the choices is caramel centered. From the fridge it’s usually hard as a rock and so then I got a little x-rated along the lines of: Cadbury Roses caramel — you have to warm it in your mouth to make it melt.

And then in the end I think I got it. Dark cooking chocolate. And the reason is, one of the things Tate loves about my heroine Christina is “her buttery voice”. And when you melt butter and chocolate together, I figure you’re on your way to delicious things.

How would you describe your hero as chocolate?

Search for an Australian star

A few months ago RWA’s blog carried news of a UK competition called Search for an Australian star.

At the time I thought it sounded like a good opportunity for me and the competition deadlines also suited the goals I’d set myself for finishing His Brand Of Beautiful (end of August).

I needed to review my synopsis anyway but this was the main reason I’ve been trying to get that sorted out too, as in order to submit to the UK competition, you had to first send a synopsis.

Well, yesterday I heard back from the publisher (I thought it was commendable to hear back from anyone in the UK this week before the Olympics) and they said they were interested in reading more about my story and invited me to subscript the full manuscript with a form (which by the way included a question for me to describe my hero in terms of chocolate!!) Ye Gods. Sounds like another post.

However, at the very least, I think this must mean my synopsis is a reasonable summation of the story and characters. So I’m taking that as good news.

What I’m now not sure of is just what happens with entering the competition. Winners are announced in December (or winner singular most probably). But to enter the competition you cannot have your book with an agent and I’m keen to query it as I’ve said in recent posts. In the gamut of emotion between staying positive and not getting your hopes up, it’s hard to know whether the best thing for me and the book is to get locked in to a competition whereby you may lose opportunity to query the book with either other publishers, or other agents.

I’ll have to think about it. I can’t seem to find much information that tells me any terms and conditions they have, should you actually be lucky enough to win their competition. What happens next?


Marking time

So I launched into July with two writing goals.

Number 1 was to work back through my whole book for the first time from start to finish as a ‘put together’ manuscript, versus chapter by chapter as it had previously been. The second was to update (which really meant scrap and start again) my synopsis. I feel I’m just weeks, maybe two months max from querying the book again and that meant I couldn’t leave the synopsis forever gaining dust in the depths of the computer.

Revising was going ‘swimmingly’ until I hit a glitch in chapter 25 which is the climatic chapter to the book for me. I have my characters in a car race, something like the Variety Bash, heading through outback roads on route to the climactic end; and suddenly I had trouble with the passage of time. I want to show them at the launch of the car race, and then pretty much I want them to get to night 4 where everything comes together. But we need to know four days have passed/ four nights.

Initially I thought I could do it via some blog entries from the heroine, showing her picking out a few things in each day; but as I revised it, I felt like it destroyed the pace and just killed everything that had been leading up before it. The voice/style was different too and I didn’t think in a good way.

So today I’ve killed that blog section and I’m trying to work through it. I think it’s working better now.

I always picture editing/revising like having a haircut. (I only get my hair cut about once a year so this analogy may not work for all). Initially I (aka the hairdresser) take big chunks out, then as we get down to it, it’s shaping here and snipping there, taking out dry/dead ends; a bit of a spritz here, a bit of spray there… and viola!

On and off through this ‘haircut’, and through school holidays and trips to the playgrounds and a movie expedition to Ice Age 4 in 3-D; I’ve been bashing away at the synopsis. If anyone out there has seen a definitive ‘how to write a synopsis’ post – I’d welcome a link to it because I’m struggling.

Onwards and upwards…

My jury’s out

I collected yesterday’s mail (two very soggy letters – it rained all day) and found a letter that amazed me. I would love to tell you it was from a publisher or something but it had nothing to do with writing!

It was a summons from the Sheriff’s Office in Adelaide for me to do jury duty.

Jury duty! The letter explains I should think of it like winning a lottery… hello! I’d much rather just win the damn lottery thanks.

I have never known anyone who got called for jury duty. Hubby and my sister-in-law who were here when I got the mail also both announced I was the first person they knew who’d been called for jury duty.

I’m fairly freaked out about it. Mostly on the chance that I get called to a case, that I can do it justice. Some things get pretty technical – expert witnesses and all that type of thing, forensics maybe – I hope I’ll understand what’s going on and make the right decisions.

The pressure! As per usual I am probably way overthinking it…

There is a part of me looking forward to it – after all it’s a whole new experience and unless the Sheriff’s Office wants me to win his lottery twice, I’ll probably never get the chance again. But there’s a part of me daunted by the whole thing: what cases might I be required to sit on; what type of things will I hear?

In the meantime while I worry about it, I’m off to buy a lottery ticket!


An agent’s voice

I said in an earlier post that I spent most of my time early in this writing life researching agents and the publishing industry because I figured I already knew how to write… a couple of rejections bashed that misconception on the head fairly darn quick. A journalism career does not a creative writer make…

But I’m now getting to the very pointy end of feeling His Brand Of Beautiful is ‘finished’ (or at least at the point where I’m game to query it again — about another month) and my thoughts have turned back to publishing. The reason I think I’m close to finished is, the book isn’t talking to me about plot anymore. For 12 months or more I’ve been thinking about plot points and scenes in my head night after night, or when I’m out walking or pushing the pram. Anytime where there’s been some type of peace and quiet. But since early July, that ‘voice’ has stopped. It’s like my head figures I have it all down and it can relax. Now it’s a case of polish, polish, polish, edit, revise; rather than plot, plot, plot, write, write, write.

It’s interesting to me how much as a would-be writer you hear about an author’s voice. Right now, I’m looking at agents’ ‘voices’ in the hope I can find one who feels like a good fit for me… and who I shall do my best to impress while trying not to get my hopes up!

From the beginning I’ve been a fan of the people at Bookends.

They had a great blog that stopped in April. It was written almost solely by Jessica Faust. I think she is an agent with a voice that really appeals to me. I always found her blog tone positive, even if she was talking about negative people or negative topics. She sounds like she’d be good fun to know.

There was a great article in the last Hearts Talk newsletter from RWA with information about royalties and advances from publishers and the main thing that came out of it for me was that it seemed those publishers paying better dollars were ones less likely to accept a submission from a non-represented author. Particularly if you make that non-represented & previously unpublished author (which hopefully I won’t always be). Stay positive. Stay positive!

I don’t mind the idea of submitting to publishers alone, but I think I’m on the side that if I can get to the point of attracting an agent, I will have far better professional guidance and expertise on this writing route I so want to travel.

In the meantime as Jenny Crusie would say: don’t worry about it and just write a great book.

What’s in a name?

Lily Malone is a pseudonym.

I agonised long and hard about the name to choose for my writing. I’ve always loved the name Lily and as I had two sons instead of daughters, I’ve never had the chance to use it. So Lily it was. But boy, did some blood, sweat and tears go into the choice. Not only the name to choose, but whether to use a pseudonym or not in the first place.

In the end for me, it came down to two things.

1) I’ve never liked my own name much. The entire thing takes eight syllables. Honestly it goes forever. As a girl I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to be the next Jana Wendt… yes – nice-short-sharp Jana Wendt. It sounds perfect said into a hairbrush as you cross back to the studio and my own name never sounded so good; I needed a packed lunch and water bottle before I got to the end. In the event one day I manage to get something I’ve written published, I doubt my real name would fit on the cover. I’d probably end up like Wimbledon, where they cut off the name after three letters on their on-screen scoreboard and you spend the next five minutes waiting to get a glimpse at the real scoreboard so you know who’s actually playing. Unless it says FED, of course.

2) My father might find out. The thought of my old man finding out that I write about … well… cocks and pussies amongst other things, terrifies me. I have an accountant cousin who strikes me very much as a 50-Shades-of-Grey-during lunch-hour-type and you just never know. If my father found out I was writing romance, he’d have a purple hernia. (Like there’s any other kind). It’s not worth the risk, however remote the odds.

When I got married, I debated about changing my name. But his surname doesn’t do much for me either when put with my first name; and I was just too slack to bother to fill out all the paperwork anyway. It was easier to stay me.

In the week or so before I took the plunge with this blog; I toyed with several names.

The first was Sara Olaf. Short. Sharp. These things count. It was a name I used many, many moons ago when I wrote a ghost column for a newspaper. There would be one other person on the planet, I think, who might recognize that name and think of me. So it was safe. Unfortunately, I mentioned this name to my husband and he thought it was crappy. When I thought about it more, I kind of agreed with him.

Then I liked Lily Sullivan; but that’s the name of one of my sons (sorry – the Sullivan part – I don’t have a son called Lily Sullivan!) It didn’t seem fair to pick one of my sons’ names and not the other. And if I picked both my sons’ names and tried to put them together, I’m just about up in the eight syllable territory again, so what would be the point?

One of my favorite writers is John Sandford. In his Lucas Davenport novels there is a character called Lily Rothenburg. I love that character. Another character in the Davenport novels has the surname Malone. (Unfortunately, she gets shot and croaks it… so I shall have to hope for a longer career with a brighter ending!)

I have read online columns about pros and cons of pseudonyms verses using your own name. I figure I can always change later if I get brave… (maybe when my old man falls off his perch – sorry Dad). In the meantime I like being anonymous. It’s like moving interstate or living overseas where you don’t know a soul and there’s zero chance you’ll walk down the supermarket aisle and have someone shout your name.

Where do you sit on pseudonyms? How did you choose yours?