JK Rowling interview with Jennifer Byrne – loved it

I really enjoyed the ABC interview last night with Jennifer Byrne and JK Rowling after the launch of Rowling’s first adult book, The Casual Vacancy.

Jennifer Byrne Interview with JK Rowling

I’ve never known much about JK Rowling and I haven’t read the Harry Potter books. I did watch the first three movies.

Harry Potter kind of ‘happened’ when I was in my Tolkein, Lord of the Rings phase. The first Potter movies also coincided with the Lord of the Rings flicks from memory and I found the entire Middle Earth world more my cup of tea (and Viggo Mortensen, but that’s another story).

I have a friend in her 50s, Lu, who just loves Harry and I know she’s read all the books a gazillion times and kept pressing me to give them a try.

Often I’ve wondered how Rowling found the time to write Harry. She was a single mum with a young baby and I thought she must have great in-laws or friends or parents who could babysit. Then I found out last night her mother died young of multiple sclerosis and Wikipedia says she used to do most of her writing in cafes. She’d put the baby in the pram and the baby would fall asleep by the time she got to the cafe and JK could tap out Harry.

I like the sound of that!

Rowling said last night she was as “skint as it’s possible to be without being homeless” and living “benefit cheque to benefit cheque” when she started Harry Potter. I’m not quite sure if she was working at all at the time. I think she was either a teacher, or trying to qualify as a teacher, and she said last night all she ever wanted was that her Harry Potter book(s) might sell enough to enable her to continue writing while she worked part-time.

I wonder then if it was actually easier in Rowling’s situation as a single mum who either wasn’t working, or was working very few hours? The only one (by the sound of it) she had to please was herself and she only had two priorities, her writing and her child. (Three I guess – with eating). I find that idea liberating.

If she wanted to put her baby in the pram and walk to a cafe and write – well she could. I don’t know if she had people telling her she was being selfish, or not investing time in the baby (mother’s guilt, mother’s guilt)… when they’re really little I don’t think they care about anything beyond the next bottle, maybe something to chew, and a rattle to hold.

If there were dishes in the sink, JK could say, bugger ‘em. She didn’t have to interact with a flat-mate, or anyone else except the baby, if she didn’t want to. She could stay up as late as she liked (though I know when I had really young babies, all I ever wanted to do was sleep.)

It sounds like there wasn’t anyone (husband, family – maybe friends?) to say she was being an idiot thinking she could write and she should just go get a real job. She could surround herself with her own positive energy, even though I would imagine – but don’t quote me – the cafe where JK wrote day after day may well have contained patrons mother-guilting her behind her back… unless it was my dream cafe filled with aspiring writers and latte and chocolate brownie.

I admire Rowling for following her dreams. She wrote the Potter books for 17 years and if the first one began in a cafe; the last one was finished in some beautiful hotel room. Talk about drive.

Right now I think I have the energy to stick with writing and enjoy it. I don’t feel like my writing is a ‘fad’ that I’ll grow out of, though ask me in 17 years. I’m enjoying learning craft and I’m loving the blogs and the people I’m finding along the way.

JK Rowling’s interview last night preceded a rejection letter this morning from an agent for my own book but I don’t feel too crushed. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I’m trying to get philosophical and relaxed about the entire ‘road to publication’ train.

Oh that it could be a train like the one that takes you to Hogwarts!

Well I’m on Facebook

I’ve taken the plunge and you can visit me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/lily.malone.313

There is a great discussion on Jennifer Crusie’s website this morning about Facebook and the pros and cons of Facebook vs Twitter; and where time is best spent. Jenny argues her time is best spent writing books, not writing ‘witty, pithy things in 140 characters.’ Check out the comments and discussions, they make for great reading. http://www.arghink.com/2012/09/25/i-cant-face-facebook/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ArghInk+%28Argh+Ink%29

Meanwhile, I’m off to ‘like’ it and ‘share’ it… see I’m getting the lingo down pat.

Ryan Gosling in Outback Oz too??

How much beefcake can us Aussie women handle?

Hot on the heels of news Robert Pattinson has signed to star (with our own Guy Pearce) in a new Australian movie called The Drover, https://lilymalone.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/robert-pattinson-goes-outback/ we hear Ryan Gosling is also rumoured to be heading Down Under for a new flick. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/movies/ryan-gosling-could-be-moving-to-australia/story-e6frf9h6-1226477226745

Rural romance is doing really well for some of our Australian authors at the moment and this movie news tells me that 25 years after Paul Hogan and Crocodile Dundee, the world is ready for a new serve of red dust and flies.

Maybe it’s time for an Outback Anthology?

Surely two of the world’s hottest stars releasing movies in 2013-15 could rekindle interest in the wild regions of Australia. Let’s hope the movie buffs are bookreaders too!

Maybe it isn’t too late to like Jack

Anyone paying attention to my last few posts will know I’ve been on jury duty for the month. If you’ve really been following closely (hi mum) you might remember I mentioned I chose One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for jury duty reading. I finished it today, waiting for the umpteenth delay before we could get in the courtroom. (If you ever get summonsed for jury duty – take a good, thick book).

Two people in the jury pool commented on my choice of book. One younger guy sat up over the back of his chair from a couple of rows away to say: “great book”… and another guy said it was a brilliant book and asked if I’d seen the movie, which I had, but about 25 years ago. The movie freaked me out so much, I’ve never wanted to read the book even though my husband owned it when I met him and it has been in our bookshelf for about 15 years.

Guy number one went on to comment that the only thing he didn’t like so much about the book were the Chief’s dream sequences and we had a little chat about that (I promise this isn’t a pick-up line story). I said that I think they were there because the writer wanted to show that Chief had his problems and that’s why he was in the mental hospital in the first place. I also said that most of those dream sequences were in the first third of the book and I thought they were about showing his mental state when he first met McMurphy, versus how by the mid to end of the book, he isn’t hiding in the ‘fog’ of his dreams anymore… So, character arc…

When I started creative writing, one of my first rejection letters was only a couple of lines but it told me I needed to work on “depth and characterisation” and I’ve been trying very hard on those since.

Cuckoo’s Nest amazes me with its characterisation early in the book. He’s talking about the black boys: “sulky and hating everything, the time of day, the place they’re at here, the people they got to work around. When they hate like this, better if they don’t see me. I creep along the wall quiet as dust in my canvas shoes…” And then the Big Nurse… “she slides through the door with a gust of cold and locks the door behind her and I see her fingers trail across the polished steel – tip of each finger the same colour as her lips. Funny orange. Like the tip of a soldering iron. Colour so hot or so cold if she touches you with it you can’t tell which.”

And that’s all on the first page.

I’ve been having so much trouble with the first page, first paragraphs of my book, I’m in awe of the ones I read where I think they get it just right. I know Cuckoo’s Nest is not the same genre as romance, but hooks are hooks and great writing is great writing.

I’ve always been an avid reader but the difference now is I’m paying more attention to how books are written and structured and I think I’m enjoying the experience of reading all the more because of that.

So now my husband is talking about watching the movie again (yep, he owns that too). I said I need a while, but I will probably watch it one day soon. In some ways it’s a shame that the first two movies I saw Jack Nicholson star in were, Cuckoo’s Nest and The Shining. I couldn’t watch anything with Jack Nicholson in it for a hell of a long time, the man scarred me for life.

I had to brush away tears at the end of the book today in the jury room. All through the book I’d been dreading the ending. The scenes with the electric shock treatment and the lobotomy are so clear in my head from the movie all these years later, and Chief throwing that panel through the window and making his escape.

Hubby tells me he always found the story “uplifting” and for the first time today, I can agree with him.


A personality test for your blog

First, a test of personality (aka resilience) for me! I’ve reworked (again) my opening scene and first chapter or so. It’s really that opening scene that is giving me grief. The STALI takes the first 5000 words so it’s a good chance to go through it one more time.

Dare I say, I feel like I’ve got it right over the last few days, but I won’t post it again: twice is enough! I will enter the RWA’s STALI (Single Title And Loving It) and see what feedback I get and then plan what happens from there. The STALI is open now until October 5.

I had downloaded the entry form the other day and my husband happened to come into the office and was looking over my shoulder for a second and he said: “What’s this? You’re Single and Loving it?” in the type of voice that said he thought he was being given the flick and I was signing up for online dating sites… LOL

In the meantime, I found this ‘personality test for your blog’ the other day which you may find fun: http://www.typealyzer.com/ 

There’s a personality test you can do too from the Shrinking Violet Promotions link but that takes much longer and needs a lot more check-marks completed. http://shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com.au/

Go Eagles tonight. I hope they can stitch up Collingwood. 

Terrified of telling

I love the internet. It’s the best thing for showing that pretty much no matter what is going on in your (writing) life, there’s someone out there who has been through it too.

I was lying awake for a few hours this morning trying to go back to sleep (like that was going to happen) and in the end I figured, bugger trying to write my thoughts in my head, I’d just get up and do it. Go Nike.

I’m a bit of a ‘list’ person, hubby always laughs at the bullet point notes of ‘things to do’ on the various notebooks I leave lying about, so in no general order:

• This jury duty is on my mind. I have to go down to the court today. I’ve been three times so far without being called for a trial. It’s like a mini-ballot every time you go down there.

• The first scene of His Brand Of Beautiful is on my mind heaps. With the jury duty, I haven’t looked at it for a while but I did again last night for a few reasons: (queue subsequent bullet list)

a) I had a two-line letter back from the agent I queried (I thought these things were supposed to take weeks!) which said: Thank you for contacting our agency. Unfortunately we are not looking at manuscripts such as the one you describe. A list of literary agents can be found at http://austlitagentsassoc.com.au/index.html Best of luck with your writing.

Which doesn’t give a girl much to go on, but I think if you’ve sent a query letter with a pitch for what you’re doing and they say ‘send it’ and then “not looking at manuscripts such as the one you describe’… well I think that means they took a quick look and didn’t like it. (And fair enough). So I was a bit flat last night but I’m okay about it this morning.

b) Last night we watched The Descendants. It’s the George Clooney movie where his wife has a jet-ski/boating accident and is in a coma for most of the movie and they have to turn off her life support. Man what a tear-jerker. I kept running to the kitchen for tissues and in the end I had to bring in the whole damn box. Clooney of course is Clooney, but the Director, Alexander Payne? He wrote the script and there was an interview with the author in the extras on the DVD and she’s amazing too. I think when you see really brilliant & talented people doing spectacular things it shows you just how far you have to go 😉

Traffic on my blog has been fairly high (for me) over the weekend, most people looking at the opening scene of His Brand Of Beautiful I posted a fortnight ago. It hasn’t had any comments, which is fine, people are busy (or maybe too kind!) But the rejection letter from the agency made me take another quick look at the scene. I think I’m making some classic mistakes: introducing too many characters, not giving enough context. I know that my early (very terrible) drafts were full of ‘telling’ not showing and I think it’s made me terrified of giving any exposition at all. I will have to weigh those thoughts up.

Maybe I can take the laptop down to the courtroom instead of the book I’m reading (currently One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – which is also adding to my feelings of writing inadequacies… my god that book is brilliant.) There’s a whole heap of waiting that goes on down there. Waiting for the sheriff’s officers, waiting for lawyers and judges, waiting for a courtroom, waiting to see if you are needed. Maybe I can find a little quiet corner and tap, tap away!

I need to retain the faith that the story for His Brand Of Beautiful is “there” and that I know how to tell (oops – show) it. The next deadline for me is the RWA STALI. I think that opens in a few days and closes about 5 October. So that’s something to work to, and the good thing about competitions is, it will help me with feedback.

Cheers, Lily.

Don’t blame it on the sunshine…

Is it normal to have a lazy patch from one book to the next? My motivation levels which were on a high three weeks ago have suddenly gone from hero to zero. I could blame winter (I’ve been blaming it solid for at least the last week) but yesterday and today have been glorious sunshine.

So now I’m blaming the sunshine. Because instead of writing, I’ve been gardening.

I don’t know if it’s a come-down from the mad race of finishing my first book to my self-imposed August 31 deadline; or because I’m now on the ‘waiting-for-news’ rollercoaster because I’ve queried the book.

The good news on that front is, I received a positive response to my query from the first agent I’ve targeted and she is now in receipt of the first three chapters. Which means, again, I’m now at the mercy of knowing if it gets rejected, it isn’t the query that’s at fault…

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself not to get my hopes up, I know I’m going to feel damn flat if I’m heading into more rejection.

But all that doesn’t quite explain why I’m not pressing on with my new project. Everything I’ve read says when you finish your first book and query it, start writing the second to take your mind off the query process with the first…

Way back when I began this blog, I mentioned His Brand Of Beautiful was my second book, and I’d written a first one, Fringe Benefits, going back about two years.

It’s this book I’m now trying to get excited about.

I’ve sat down a couple of times but I don’t know if I’m reluctant to get ‘consumed’ by it again – or perhaps more correctly – I’m reluctant to test the waters with hubby if I get ‘consumed’ by it again… The other night after the kids were in bed he looked at me with a cocked eyebrow and said: “Are you writing again?”… Like again.

See. That’s why I really need an agent to say they like this book because I just know there’ll be commiserations from my hubby if it gets rejected, (and they’ll be genuine) but there might also be just a hint of “I told you so” along with a touch of: so now it’s time to get a ‘real’ job don’t you think?

Case in point on my procrastination front: I have time today (like right now). My eldest son is at kindergarten, hubby is at work and shortly, younger son should (crosses fingers) have his sleep…

And what am I doing?

• I’ve paid a few bills online.

• Been down to collect the mail.

• Raked-over the new vegie patch

• Blown bubbles with my son (this was great fun so I’m not begrudging it)

• Surfed the net for news of the West Coast Eagles (go Eagles)

• And now I’m writing this post.

In other words. I am not making the most of prime-time, writing-time.

I think I’m having a little trouble transitioning out of the ‘world’ of Christina and Tate in HBOB; and into the world of Quin and Seth in FB. (What is it about all these ‘b’ words in my book titles anyway?)

I don’t think it’s writer’s block. It might be ‘mother’s block’… in that I feel I owe my family some time… Either way I think the answer is probably soldier on and work through it.

Any tips out there for writer’s block, mother’s block or (for that matter) a five-year-old’s icecream birthday cake recipe (I have a party for my son on Sunday). Please feel free to share!