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A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Byron (or how I ended up on stage with Nick Earls)

August 21, 2014

On Sunday 27th July, I found myself sitting on a raised platform at the Coast Hotel next to Nick Earls, microphone in hand, telling a round of a story of the top of my head. Later, I had to pinch myself, I’d been on stage with a panel of Byron Bay Writers Festival authors. How did I get here? Well, I can blame and thank Angela Meyer for this.

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At our meeting of the Nambucca Valley Writers Group the day before, Roby Aiken gave a workshop on reading our work for an audience. This indeed is a handy skill for any author, and I suggested ‘especially when we’re on a panel at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.’

Little did I know that my words were almost prophetic, as I would end up on stage with a panel of writers during their 5 Writers, 5 Towns, 5 Days road trip on their way to Byron Bay. (Photo below by Tim Eddy)

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The event was held at The Coast Hotel. Literature in the Pub. This brought back memories of the heyday of the Harold Park Hotel in Sydney with its little back room that held plays, poetry readings, and author events.

Angela Meyer was chair and on that night, she filled in for one of the other writers who was sick. Angela was a local girl and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for around ten years. (This was to my detriment/advantage as the evening went on.)

The other writers were Ashley Hayes, Craig Sherbourne, Zacharey Jane and Nick Earls. Each read a short piece from their latest novel and answered questions from Angela and the audience. It is always fascinating to hear other people’s writing processes. As Nick Earls said, ‘Writers find their own perverse methods of producing the novel.’

I could probably tell you some of those perverse methods if I’d taken better notes, but one has stuck as particularly perverse and specific. Craig Sherbourne writes in school exercise books, lying on his stomach on a bullskin rug. (umm, don’t think I’ll try that one.)

There was a cosy group of writers in the audience including members of Coffs Harbour Writers Group along with fans. Then we got to the games bit of the night which required audience participation. I was sitting directly in Angela’s sightline and she asked for volunteers, then added, ‘How about you, Diane?’ Well, as most who know me realise, I do have an issue with saying ‘no’, especially when somebody asks so nicely, but part of me was screaming in terror. It’s a long, long time since I’d done anything on stage that resembled improvisation, and I don’t remember ever being good at it back in my drama days. But I jumped out of my comfort zone and took my place on stage. For her second victim, Angela coaxed her mother onto the stage. Unfortunately I don’t have any photographic evidence of me on stage during the game. You’ll have to take my word for it.

The game was simple, apparently. Each team would tell a story in 30 second rounds based on a genre picked out of a bucket and a topic suggested by the audience. The audience could yell out ‘random’ at any time and we would then choose either a random word or phrase from a bucket or a random prop from a sack, this would then need to be incorporated into the story.

I was on a team with Craig Sherbourne and Zacharey Jane. I chose the genre ‘Horror’ and an extremely helpful audience member yelled out ‘air travel.’ Well, my mind did scream ‘No’ at this and I somehow managed to vocalise it. It was only a week after the Malaysian airlines disaster – way too fresh. So it was suggested we pick another genre. This time we got ‘Literary’. Aargh! Could this game get any worst? My fellow team members suggested I open the story but my mind was already in panic and I shook my head and passed the microphone over.

We ended up with a story about a guy who suffers claustrophobia on a plane, who had overdone his meds, added champagne to the mix. At one point I had to pick a random word and drew out ‘smell’, so of course the obese passenger spilling over the seat next to him on the plane farted. Oh how unliterary! My mind in panic couldn’t turn ‘flatulence’ into a verb to give it a bit more style. I think I ended the story with the protagonist passing out from the mixture of pills and alcohol.

Then it was the other team’s turn. They had the advantage of Nick Earls on their team and I wonder if their suggestions were planted because their genre (chosen randomly) was sci-fi, and the topic proffered by the audience was ‘Volkswagen’. Of course, they won.

But afterwards, still on the stage, I was almost pinching myself. ‘I’m on stage next to Nick Earls.’ It was only later that night, with the events replaying in my head, that my incredulity really took over. I’d been on a Byron Bay Writers Festival panel. I’d stood on stage with a microphone, improvising a story, in front of an audience, and I hadn’t frozen, faltered or fainted.

The next day, all the words I could have, should have, would have said, came to me. The story kept building in my mind taking on Jabba the Hut proportions until the poor hero’s claustrophobia really kicked in. Yep, would have been great on the night but those ideas didn’t emerge until later.

After the audience participation thing, we kicked on, had drinks, talked about writing. I talked to Nick about the previous days workshop and reading work for an audience, and he showed me his secrets of the trade in his marked-up novel. He told me he would have started the literary story with ‘I was having a cup of tea.’

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The next weekend at Bryon Bay Writers Festival, I bought Nick’s novel, Analogue Men, and he signed it ‘Good to be on a BBWF panel with you.’ and posed for a photo with Bondage Bear (more of BB’s literary adventures to come)

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One day, the real thing – maybe there could be a panel on the reimagining of the fairytale, and I could be up there with Kate Forsyth. I’ll add it to my vision wall.

To read more about #555writers, visit Angela Meyer’s blog, Literary Minded.

A Fairytale Renaissance

June 9, 2014

There’s magic in the air. The renaissance of the fairytale is no longer once upon a time. It is upon us now.

The cinematic fairytale re-tellings have been piling up over the last few years.  Snow White had several outings. Who can forget Charlize Theron’s fabulous costumes in Snow White and the Huntsman,  though I was expecting Kristen Stewart to turn into a vampire.  (Snow White the vampire – now there’s a mashup?). Julia Roberts was at her comedic best in Mirror Mirror, with quite a lust for the Prince.  And we’ve also had Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel: WitchKillers and Jack the Giant Slayer.

But none has been as magnificent as Malificent. Angela Jolie is stunning in the title role and the reason for her seeking vengeance with Aurora as her victim, is real and justifiable.  No spoilers here, but the movie is full of battle and fight scenes, fairy whimsy and fabulous special effects including cheekbones that could cut diamonds. I loved it.

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And there are more fairy tale movies to come!

Television is not too far behind with Beauty and the Beast. Grimm, and my favourite Once Upon a Time. I love the twists in Once Upon a Time, how the characters stories intertweave and intersect with each other, how we visit many different lands: The Enchanted Forest, Wonderland, Neverland, Oz, Storybrook and even New York. My favourite character is Rumplestiltskin/Mr Gold and Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of this complex character is fascinating and mesmerising. And for a bit of sexy, Hook definitely fits the bill. Of course, commercial television in Australia is currently teasing me with promises that it will screen, and then ripping it out of the schedule because it’s a holiday weekend. I am hoping that they will also show Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, but I’m not counting on it.

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Meanwhile, back in Oz (Australia, not L Frank Baum’s version), the Australian Fairytale Society has incorporated and I have become a founding member.  AFTS is holding their inaugural conference in Sydney today and I wish I could be there.  But no fairy godmother appeared to wave her magic wand and transport me there. Next year….  You can follow the conference on Twitter via the hashtag #AFTSConf, like their page on Facebook or wait for the unveiling of their website later today.

In books, there is also a fairytale renaissance and my to-be-read pile (both on Kindle and in my house) are growing.

I’m currently reading Kate Forsyth’s The Wild Girl, which is not a fairy tale as such but is about Dortchen Wild and her relationship with Willhelm Grimm.

TBR list

Bitter Greens – Kate Forsyth  (Rapunzel)

The Fairest of them All – Carolyn Turgeon (Rapunzel and Snow White)

Godmother – Carolyn Turgeon (Cinderella)

Mermaid – Carolyn Turgeon (The LIttle Mermaid)

Cinder – Marissa Meyer  (sci-fi Cinderella)

Ash – Malinda Lo

Desperately Ever After – Laura Kenyon (Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel in NY)

But first, I need to finish my own fairy-tale retelling of Cinderella and Snow White, After Ever After. Like Laura’s novel, my story is set in the modern day world, in the kingdoms of Majandis and Cypyrnia. Both princesses are dealing with living in the royal goldfish bowl with endless media speculation of their lives. But there’s a twist.  A photo by Robert Mapplethorpe  may give you a clue:

What’s a girl to do when she marries Prince Charming only to discover he’d rather sleep with the coachman?

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Back to the fun!

For lots more fairy tale news, check out Once Upon a Blog by Gypsy Thornton.  She has all the latest fairytale goss!

 

 

 

 

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

March 24, 2014

My critique partner, Alli Sinclair, invited me to take part in the Blog Hop on My Writing Process, and I agreed, while wondering what my writing process is. It has changed from manuscript to manuscript and I can honestly say I’m still discovering my writing process.

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Critique Trio: Diane Curran, Alli Sinclair and Juliet Madison

So let’s dive in:

What am I working on?

My current work in progress is a contemporary twisted fairy tale After Ever After where we find out what happened to Cinderella after the fairy tale wedding.

Here’s a short teaser:

What’s a girl to do when she marries Prince Charming only to find out he’d rather sleep with the coachman?

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I wonder if the canon of reimagined fairytales is large enough to be considered a genre.  Several authors are using well-known fairytales as the base of their stories but the majority of these are historical or fantasy e.g Gregory Maguire, Kate Forsyth, Carolyn Turgeon.

After Ever After is set firmly in the contemporary world: a world of reality and talk show TV, a world with an insatiable media, a world gripped in an obsession with celebrities, a world polarised on the issue of same sex marriage.This is a world that most readers will find familiar, but it also contains well-loved fairy tale elements, such as Cindy’s fairy godmother (with a modern twist of being addicted to snorting fairy dust)

 

Why do I write what I do?

It’s not usually a conscious decision. In the case of After Ever After, Cindy chose me to tell her story.

But in general I write stories about contemporary women and their journeys of self-discovery. There always has to be humour and often there will be  sub-plot involving a gay theme ( a hangover from my twenties when I was the ‘closet hetrosexual’ in a gay sharehouse in the inner city of Sydney). Romance is not the be-all and end-all in my stories but is generally an element. Self-discovery and self-fulfillment are more important.

 

How does your writing process work?

I’m still working out my writing process as I have approached various stories differently depending on whether I’ve started with a kernel of an idea, a feeling I wanted to capture or a full-blown concept.

I love the rush of a fast draft, discovering the characters and story as I go, but I’m realising how much restructuring and rewriting is involved in this method.

So today, I will detail how I wrote After Ever After.

Several years ago, a writing association was formed in the region combining representatives of local writers groups. To kick off its existence, the Mid North Coast Writers Association held a short story competition.  A friend was the Receiving Officer for the competition and encouraged me to enter.  I replied, “I haven’t written a short story in nine years. All my ideas are big. I don’t know how to write a beginning, a middle and an end in 2000 words.”

Something clicked in the back of my mind and I thought, “I wonder what happened to Cinderella after the happily ever after.” The story just poured out – Beyond Happily Ever After – and I won second prize in the competition.

I extended the story to 3000 words for the Women’s Weekly short story competition, adding in a shoe fetish for Cindy and though not successful in the competition, the extended version was published in Wet Ink magazine.

I had so much fun with the characters and I wanted to know what happened next, I kept writing, participating in Nanowrimo. For most of the story, I was pantsing, allowing the characters to direct the storyline.

I wasn’t satisfied with the original ending — it was a compromise between the characters to keep their real lives concealed behind palace doors, but at the first draft stage I could see no way that everyone could have a happy ending. I put the manuscript away and worked on other stories.

And then there was a political scandal — a NSW minister was photographed emerging from a gay sex club and the double life that he’d managed to conceal for over twenty years was exposed.

I knew I needed a public ‘outing’ for my Prince Charming and Cinderella to get their happy endings. But it meant that the last third of my manuscript had to be rewritten. I started by writing the ending I wanted and then filling in scenes in the last third. Scenes came out of order and it took a couple more 50ks in 30days events to get most of the story down.

My rewrite was a lot slower and more painstaking than the first draft. I would often outline a scene before I started so I had the beginning and end points, to stop veering off the track.

Sometimes to get into a character’s head, I would write the scene in first person. This was effective in banishing the formal speech that seemed to pop out of my royals’ mouths. I would then rewrite in third person.

I also procrastinated a hell of a lot. (Procrastination and fighting the self-doubt demons is a huge part of my writing process).

But finally, I’ve reached the end of the major rewrite, and I’m about to send the final ten chapters to my critique partners.

Occasionally when the self-doubt demons have got me down, I go back to my hard copy first draft. The one that is littered with highlighter (a la Margie Lawson) and red scribble everywhere.  It reminds me how far I’ve come, and how I can turn first draft crap into gold. And then I continue.

Hmm… perhaps my next story should be about Rumpelstiltskin.

 

Well, I lassoed two writer friends to continue the Writing Process Blog Hop next Monday.  Can’t wait to read about their processes.

Kate Wigseller writes fiction with quirk, grit and humour. A fan of spoken word and beat poetry, she constantly reminds herself that should this novel writing caper fall through, there’s always work doing voiceovers. Although she is an aspiring film and tv writer, most of her works in progress are books and she is currently gearing up to publish her first novel later this year. You can contact her and catch her blogging at http://katewigseller.blogspot.com.au

Sammy Knights is an aspiring romance author who spends her days dreaming of her own little world and nights attempting to recreate that world for others to enjoy. She is also a member of two esteemed organisations in the MRWG and RWA. http://www.bcdmiscellany.blogspot.com.au/

 

New on the cybershelves: February or Forever

February 1, 2014

I have two extremely talented and lovely critique partners, Juliet Madison and Alli Sinclair.

Today one of them, Juliet Madison, is celebrating the first birthday of her first book Fast Forward and the release day of her 5th book, February or Forever and Alli and I are celebrating with her.  In person celebrations occurred three weeks ago during our cp weekend in Kiama…

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Tonight the celebrations are in cyberspace…

 

Here’s more about Juliet’s brand-new release: February or Forever

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FEBRUARY OR FOREVER by Juliet Madison

Genre: Contemporary coastal romance, women’s fiction.

Available worldwide from all ebook retailers 1st February.

Published by Escape Publishing.

 

In this heartwarming coastal romance, Escape bestselling author Juliet Madison asks, what if your favourite celebrity fell in love with you?

Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on. The scene of a terrible accident years ago, the house needs to get out of Chrissie’s hands as soon as possible.

But Tarrin’s Bay, where the house stands, has more to offer than bad memories. The town is lovely, the people friendly, and even Chrissie’s young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.

Relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, but Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. Days of stretching and bending may bring Chrissie unexpected peace and strength, but she knows that this interlude must end, and there’s no pose or position to aid her when Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted. 

Buy Now: Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon Aus / iTunes / Kobo / B&N Nook / GooglePlay / All Romance / Ebooks.Com / Booktopia / JB Hi-Fi / Big W / Escape Publishing

Watch the Book Video Trailer:  http://youtu.be/TI3adsN70VQ

Visit Juliet online: website, blog, facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.

 

Excerpt:

Chrissie’s hand poised above the electronic lock, and she plastered a smile on her face.

‘Hi, Drew, I’m Chrissie,’ she practised.

Urgh. Too casual.

Good morning, Mr Williams. It’s a delight to meet you.’

Too serious and old-fashioned.

Drew Williams, what an honour. My name is Chrissie and I’m absolutely thrilled to be your yoga instructor. I’m here to help in any way I can.’

Strike three. Oh c’mon, Chrissie. What are you trying to do, convince him to put you in his will?

She pushed out a breath and slid the key card down the slit in the lock. It lit up green and she pushed open the door, letting it slowly close behind her.

Suddenly aware that now, beyond this door, it was only herself and the multiple Grammy award-winning artist, she felt a tad underdressed in her Lycra outfit and comfortable rubber slip-on sandals. An occasion like this should call for a nice dress, or even trousers and a classy top, and definitely heels. But no, she’d be meeting her favourite singer in the clothing she wore every day. At least the requirements of her job had allowed her figure to regain its sculpted firmness after the birth of Kai, combined with eating a healthy diet and doing circuit sessions at the gym.

Why am I worried about how I look? Yoga is not about appearances, it’s about the unity and oneness of everything. Aesthetics don’t matter when we’re all the same on the inside.

Chrissie tried the whole ‘talking herself around thing’, but couldn’t help feeling exposed, vulnerable, uncertain. Was she really cut out for this job in her sensitive emotional state of late?

A sound from above yanked her back to the present moment, and she realised there was no time or point in pondering such things. She had a job to do, and she had to get on with it. Now.

 

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I haven’t critiqued this book but Juliet’s last release The January Wish was a fantastic introduction to the fictional Tarrin’s Bay (followed by our real life introduction to the inspiration for the town), and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

 

2014: The To-Be-Read Pile

January 3, 2014

I have posted my 2014 goals on the blog on a separate page where it can constantly taunt me and tease me, hold me publicly accountable, or I can just forget and ignore, until the end of the year, in a mild panic,I review it and realise just how much I didn’t achieve.

But I thought I would give the To Be Read pile its own post.

Initially, I thought I would peruse my teetering, out-of-control TBR pile and come up with 12 books – one for each month – a realistic goal. But I dragged out  a few more.

The problem with being a writer and making friends with so many writers is that writers become authors, and authors just keep writing more and more books. Damn them! My TBR pile is growing exponentially along with my guilt of not keeping up.

I have included friends in my TBR selections, along with authors new to me, books that intrigued me on the shelves, and established authors. And this is just a small selection of what I currently own: there will be many more added to the pile during the year as my writer friends continue to produce the goods.

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1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

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This is sitting in my ‘hot’ book seat right now, and jumped back to the top of the pile as the movie will be released this month. I started reading this last year, was mesmerised by the beautiful writing, then got to the end of Part One and didn’t return for some reason. I’m at that point again and will return tonight.

2. The January Wish

A new novel by my critique partner, Juliet Madison

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The January Wish

3. The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

This looks like an intriguing story and has sat on my bedside table waiting to be cracked open for a while, but I’ve been too pragmatic. Each time I’ve considered it, I’ve looked at the thickness of the book and thought ‘not now’. Soon, vey soon.

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4. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I’ve had similar thought about the volume of Life After Life. Again, the story sounds fascinating, but I just haven’t got there yet. 2014 it is.

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5. Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

I love Dexter. Whoever thought I would empathise with a serial killer? I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Lindsay at a author event a few years ago at Shearer’s Bookstore. Now that the series has ended, I will read some more of the books, and I love the Hollywood concept behind this one.

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6. The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls

This one has been waiting for me to read it for too long.

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7. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Last year I read Every Day  by David Levithan. The year before (I think) I read The Lover’s Dictionary. I love his writing.

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8.  Once, Then, Now and After by Morris Gleitzman.

Roby loaned me these books and told me to read them.

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9. Man Drought by Rachael Johns

My friend Rachael Johns is writing and releasing them faster than I can keep up.

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10. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This book had hyper buzz. I will have to read to see what all the fuss is about.

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11. Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance

A comedy about royalty. It jumped off the shelve at me. I will read as soon as I have submitted my Cinderella story.

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12. Wicked by Gregory Maguire.

I have read a few of Maguire’s story tale re-tellings and have been meaning to read this one since I saw the musical of Wicked. I know it is radically different from the musical but plan to read it this year.

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13. Wise Children by Angela Carter

I have read The Bloody Chamber but have not yet read a novel by Angela Carter. I picked this one up at the Rotary Bookfest.

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14. The Cleft by Doris Lessing

Another one I picked up at Bookfest.

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14. The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

It’s been a while since I indulged myself with a Marian Keyes novel. Have always loved her stories – chick lit with a serious side.

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15. The Inevitability of Stars by Kathryn R Lyster.

I had the pleasure of attending Kathryn’s book launch at Byron Bay Writers Festival last August. Another for the must-read list of 2014.

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16. Untamed by Anna Cowan

Untamed was a freebie at last year’s RWA conference and I’ve been hearing intriguing things about it. Time to dip into the historical.

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17. Thornwood House by Anna Romer

Another newly acquired author friend. (My bank account says I must stop befriending authors.) At the recent Odd Writers lunch, Anna shared her eye-popping notebook which kept track of everything that happened in Thornwood House.

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18. My own manuscripts, over and over and over.

19. Anything my lovely and talented critique partners send to me.

So what’s on your TBR pile for 2014?

2013: A-Z Highlights

December 31, 2013

I spent Christmas this year with my lovely Aunty Brenda and she challenged me to list my highlights of 2013 from A-Z.

Here we go:

Airbnb and Annette

My work colleague Di put me onto airbnb.com and I used the site for my accommodation in both Hobart and Perth. Annette was my host in Perth and I could not ask for a more friendly host family or lovely place to stay. Thank you, Annette.

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Belly Dance

Three years of bellydancing – though sometimes, it still has me quaking and confused, dancing is beautiful and I am surrounded by my lovely and very supportive Sacred Lotus sisters. This year, I performed two dances in the Queen of the Nile concert and I can’t wait to see the DVD. Thanks to my wonderful and gorgeous bellydance teacher, Kylie, I no longer feel like I have two left feet and a broken leg.

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Critique Partners

What would I do without these two gorgeous ladies, Juliet and Alli, who regularly kick my butt, challenge me in my writing and inspire me to produce the best manuscript I can. Fabulous role models blazing a trail and also great friends. Though we live miles away, we regularly talk online and I’m looking forward to a get together in a few weeks time.

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Driving Miss Daisy

In February, I met long-time online friend, Karina, in Brisbane to see Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy. It’s the first time that Karina and I had met in person and we had a fantastic weekend, and had the privilege of meeting Ms Lansbury after the matinee.

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Esplanade (Hotel)

This year’s RWA conference was held at the Hotel Esplanade. The first 2 nights I was upgraded to a spa suite which was lovely. Centrally located, the hotel was a great place to try Fremantle’s eateries. My first time in Fremantle, I fell in love with the history, the buildings, the cafés, and oh, did I mention the umpteen book shops. I will return.

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Family

My family is scattered around Australia and though I endeavour to catch up with my east coast relatives as much as I can, I hadn’t seen my W.A. Cousins since they were kids. And now they have kids of their own. But my trip to WA meant that I was swamped by cousins and second cousins. Lovely to catch up and commence relationships in our adult life.

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Groupies

Music is such a binding force, and when it comes to the group that was the soundtrack to your teens, and then meet their other fans, you are bound for life. And I thought I was a MP groupie, I’m a novice compared to some of them. Tracey, Daneal, Cath, Warwick, Steve, Comrie….I’m looking forward to Bustin’ Loose with you again.

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Hobart

My trip to Hobart was another first and I visited when the 10 Days on the Island arts festival was taking place. Highlights included the intriguing MONA (what an asset!), Salamanca Markets, a chick lit Masterclass with Anita Heiss, meeting And talking writing with Sara Brazabon, tons of culture, a personal tour of the Theatre Royal including the dressing room used by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, the newly refurbished museum and art gallery and seeing Hannah Gadsby give her funny lecture on the Virgin Mary in Art history. Tassie, I will be back.

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interesting People I met

Anita Heiss, Hannah Kent, Hannah Gadsby, Anna Romer, writers, writers and more writers.

Journeys

Two interstate journeys this year to new places. Which only leaves the NT unexplored.

However, Karina and I have booked the Bravo Performing Arts cruise for November 2014. An arts festival at sea – they had me at Elaine (Paige).

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Kate

Kate joined Romance Writers of Australia a year ago and we started chatting during the 50ks in 30 days event, then became Facebook friends. Then through FB posts we discovered that we are second cousins, sharing a great-grandmother. Meeting Kate was a definite highlight of my year.

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Lime Mexican

There’s a new Mexican in town, and it’s a fabulous fiesta. I planned to test it out on my birthday but severe storm warnings, hail warnings and tornado warnings nixed those plans. But Shou and I more than made up for it a few weeks later with mock tails, chorizo and black bean salsa, stuffed jalapeños, beef fajitas, churros and bunuelos. Yum.

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Moving Pictures

Just when we thought the 2011 tour was a once-off, the boys announced another tour, this time in pubs and clubs. I managed to squeeze in two shows in Sydney on the way back to Perth and had a fabulous time. The Moving Pictures Facebook group came to life and we made lots of new friends, swapping stories and photos. I was lucky to see a show at Dee Why RSLon the Saturday night, followed by an intimate pub gig on the Sunday at Heathcote Hotel. And this time, we could buy CD and DVD of the 2011 concert. Looking forward to seeing the boys again.

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Niece and nephew

It’s always fun to spend time with my niece Abbie and my nephew Damon, whether it’s interpretative belly dance, fishing or playing Xbox konnect, they’re fun to hang out with.

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Odd Writers

I’m not saying all writers are odd but a recent writerly lunch resulted in us deciding to have the Odd Writers’ Lunch. I don’t mind being an Odd Writer, I ‘d rather be an Odd Writer than an Occasional Writer. Our writerly gathering included Jenn J McLeod and Jeannette, Greg Barron, Bronwyn Parry, Shannon Garner and Anna Romer, who I’d not met before and showed us her jaw-dropping notebook for Thornwood House. It was a lovely afternoon at the Old Butter Factory at Bellingen, talking all things writing, and I came away thoroughly inspired. I look forward to more Odd Writers’ Lunches in 2014.

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Perth

Why did it take me so long to get to Perth? I didn’t spend a lot of time in Perth itself as most of my trip was taken up with the RWA conference, but what I saw, I liked. This included taking a River cruise to Fremantle, and gazing at all the magnificent homes along with the Swan River, visiting Cottosloe with my cousins, and visiting the most impressive cultural precinct. I spent hours in the Van Gough to Picasso exhibition from MOMA in NY, and was delighted to see a couple of Dali’s in real life, along with a Frida Kahlo I hadn’t seen before, and Warhol’s iconic Elvis image. I finished my cultural day with a relaxing afternoon at The Muse Cafe behind the museum.

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Qwerty

I think Qwerty will always be my ‘Q’ highlight. He is delightful, entertaining, full of personality, and fills me with love.

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RWA Conference

Every year, I get to hang out with my writing pals for 4 days at the Romance Writers of Australia conference. We laugh, we drink, we eat, we dress up in fun costumes, and glamorous outfits, we celebrate each other’s successes, we network and we learn. RWA has enriched my life, introduced me to some fabulous friends, and joining has been one of my best-ever decisions.

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Smurfs

Actually, I hate Smurfs,but they’re an essential part of this highlight. For the 2013 Sawtell Chilli Festival, Sacred Lotus appeared on the Weekend Today show and we were photo-bombed by Smurfs. Yes, I belly-danced on national television – now that particular item was never on my bucket list, but there you go. We really wanted to bash up the opportunist Smurfs. Belly dancers belting up smurfs – that would have made some interesting footage.

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Trivia

Yes, I’m hooked. Trivia at the Bowling Club has become a Wednesday night ritual. Sometimes, theyaskthe right questions and we walk away with a voucher, sometimes, they don’t.

But one night, we blitzed the $1000 jackpot round, and there were only four of us in the team that night. Nice!

Uncle Geoff

My trip to Perth also included a catch up with my Uncle Geoff. Lovely to see him again.

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Veterinary nurse

My honorary little sister, Traciee, became a vet nurse this year. Very proud of you, Traciee.

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Val

My landlady and adopted granny. I’m storing up my own Val stories to rival an episode of Mother and Son. And it’s been lovely to become a part of Val’s family.

Writing/Writers

Continuing to work on Cindy and Edward’s stories in After Ever After, with the goal to submit in March 2014.
Another fabulous Byron Bay Writers festival, with my writing buddies, Roby and Lisa
Writer friends who encourage me, kick my butt, commiserate and celebrate with me.
And Nambucca Valley writers Group – somehow I became president this year.

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Xmas

Xmas has been a difficult time of year for me since losing Mum. Though lovely and appreciated invites came in from friends, this year I decided to spend it with family. First I spent a night with my brother and sister-in-law and the niece and nephew, and my Uggly’s presents for the kids hit the mark.

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Then I caught the train to Nowra to spend Xmas with Aunty Brenda and John. Aunty Brenda and I went to the Carols in Berry on Xmas Eve, and I got excited when I spotted Santa driving pasting a truck and broke the arm on the fold-up chair. A minute later, the whole ting collapsed, and I ended up on the ground, laughing. We reminisced over old photos, and cooked Xmas lunch together and had lots of pressies. It was a lovely Xmas.

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On the way home, I also spent a night with Aunty Charmaine and Uncle Colin. Triple the family for Christmas.

The Yearning

One of my favourite books for the year was The Yearning by Kate Belle. It told the story of a young girl’s affair with a school teacher; a story of desire and obsession. The older man/young girl relationship resonated with me and took me back to my all-comsuming first love. And I loved the ending of the story. Of course, I had to meet Kate Belle at the RWA conference and we had an intriguing conversation about the novel. Read this book, especially if you’ve ever been obsessed with an older man.

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Zzzzzzz’s

Thanks to Tracey N for this heading.

Zzzzzz’s is for my beautiful new bed. For sleeping in, for sleeping, for reading in bed, for cuddling with Qwerty.  It was a case of out with the old and in with the new this year. And the new quilt cover waited for months until I purchased the bed. I managed to purchase the bed in two lunch hours at Forty Winks. It was delivered 3 days later and assembled by the guys. Love my new bed, and so does Qwerty.

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Wow! What a full on year.

A-Z challenge met, but so many great topics that I never blogged about during the year.

Bring on 2014!

What were your highlights for the year?

Cherish your writing mentors

August 10, 2013

One thing I’ve learned from being a member of Romance Writers of Australia is the power of writerly relationships and the importance of networking.

Every step on our road to publication, we have teachers, mentors, supporters, critique partners, beta-readers and friends guiding us, supporting us, consoling us and celebrating with us.

It is important to honour and nurture these relationships, no matter how big or small the contribution the person has made on your writing journey.

Following the acceptance of the short story version of Beyond Happily Ever After by Wet Ink magazine, I had a new confidence. I was able to introduce myself to authors as a writer, and set about having my photo taken with authors as something to aspire too.

This year at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, I made a conscious decision to seek out some wonderful ladies who have taught me and encouraged me in the past year: to re-connect, to thank them and to update them on my writing journey.

In July 2012, Cate Kennedy gave a workshop in Coffs Harbour and was very encouraging about my Cinderella story. I sat in on one of her sessions in Byron Bay and managed a quick hello at the end of it.

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Last November, I travelled to Byron Bay to do a two day structural editing workshop with Shelley Kenigsberg. I spent the weekend changing scenes from third person to first person, which gave me a better insight into Henry’s private persona – once in first person, he really let me know what he was thinking. Shelley also encouraged me to find a story-related premise for the story, and a few weeks after the course, I came up with a premise that nailed it perfectly:

Fairy godmothers are over-rated. Real magic begins when you’re true to yourself.

I’ve had this printed on my new business cards and I presented one to Shelley when I caught up with her at Byron Bay Writers Festival.

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I also attended the book launch of The Inevitability of Stars by Kathryn R Lyster, a newly published author and one of Shelley’s Editing in Paradise alumni. It was touching to see how moved Shelley was, and how invested she was in Kathryn’s achievement. The book launch was a beautiful celebration of Kathryn’s success and I’m happy to have attended (and purchased the novel).

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I also attended the Chick Lit Mass Market session which included Anita Heiss on the panel, who gave the Chick Lit Masterclass I attended in March in Hobart.

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The session was funny (as evidenced by the picture below) and even though I wondered about the token male writers on the panel, they were just as funny.

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Earlier this year, I attended and editing course in Bellingen, led by Laurel Cohn. During the course of the workshop, Laurel read my synopsis for Beyond Happily Ever After/The Wrong Prince/After Ever After (No, I haven’t settled on a title yet) and identified a flaw in the plot, telling me ‘That wouldn’t happen.’ Laurel was right and I had to work out a way to get Jared into Henry’s employment at the time I needed him to be there. It meant rewriting several scenes, but a disguise, a new name, a tour of several famous horse races and Jared is logically back right where I need him. His hair has changed colour and his facial hair means that he’s not recognised immediately, and with his denial of his former life, he has key characters second-guessing that they know his true identity. Plus, I added a chase on horseback. That simple change resulted in intrigue and suspense in a scene that was previously quite preditable. During the Festival, I made sure that I thanked Laurel for her input and that I had fixed the plot problem.

I am friends with Shelley on Facebook and I follow Anita on Twitter. Whether you connect online or seize the opportunity at a Festival or conference, it’s important to keep the connections going.

There was another author at the Festival that taught a workshop I attended, but she told me that I was too good a writer to be wasting my time on genre.  Nice back-handed compliment, but a total diss of what I want to write, so no, I did not cherish her or seek her out.

Networking – learn it, practice it, do it.   Cherish your writing mentors.

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