Monday, August 31, 2009

Toblerone time

I wrote almost 9000 words on Saturday, which I think is my second-highest record. The morning session was punctuated by a tangello and some cookies. In the afternoon I worked non-stop.

Got home on Sunday morning after successfully evading Border Patrol (last year I wasn't so lucky) and did a million other things, like making my poor depressed husband lunch (nice to know I was missed). Determined to cross the Toblerone threshold, I buckled down this evening and wrote a couple more thousand words, bringing my total for the weekend to 10,994. That's good stuff, at least in terms of sheer wordage. The words themselves are going to need a lot of work, of course.

Must sleep.

And there are no Toblerones in the house, which isn't an unusual state of affairs, but it's a bit of an anti-climax.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Setting a target

So today I wrote 2000 words, which, okay, isn't great, but it's on target. Then I went through the rest of my scrappy manuscript (that I wrote ages ago) slotting various bits and pieces into place and deleting the repeated or no-longer-relevant stuff... and my final word count now is less than it was two days ago! That's disheartening.

On Friday I'm off on a writing retreat with my RWA buddies - this is the third time we've done this. The point is to brainstorm each other's plots, but I do not need any new ideas for this book and I don't want to put my mind on anything else right now, either. A few others are in the same boat - we just want to get lots of writing done - so I'm going to lock myself in a room on Saturday with like-minded individuals and buckle down to write.

Another Aussie Eos author

Tracey O'Hara is a fellow Aussie author (okay, I'm a fake Aussie, but still) (and also, she's not a fellow and neither am I) with fellow publisher Eos Books. Tomorrow she chats live on Romance Radio at 5PM, which is 2PM for me and... something like 7AM for her. I don't often read paranormal but my critique partner Sherrill Quinn writes paranormal romance for Kensington and her stuff is sexy and action-packed, so I'm getting the hang of this genre!

Tracey's debut novel is Night's Cold Kiss.

Canada ahead of the game

Look what I found on Amazon Canada...

I'm going to have to create a new label for this. In honor of Rove McManus, What the? But still, it's very nice. :)

They also have a listing for the sequel, along with release dates (which don't match what I was told, but I'm not complaining).

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I just spent $59.98 at Amazon. All books, all new. I removed Guitar Hero Aerosmith from my cart.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A recipe

Had a power outage for 3 hours this morning while some very agile men climbed the huge tree out the back of our street and lopped off half its branches to keep them off the power lines. I was worried something would go wrong and I'd be unable to use the oven this evening, because Friday night is... pizza night!

I never ate a pizza in America that I liked, at least compared with the Mexicana from Gabriella Pizza (Carnegie) so I started making my own. I used to buy the base and do the toppings myself, but I now make them from scratch and they are delicious. Here's how you do it.

Turn on the oven to 450F and leave to heat up while making the dough.

Make the dough using quick-rise yeast and bread flour and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

While dough is rising, spray pizza tray with oil and prepare the toppings. This takes exactly 30 minutes.

Sharpen a knife and cut cherry tomatoes into slices. Place in bowl with extra virgin olive oil and crushed garlic.

Open can of pineapple tidbits and put in a sieve to drain. Drink some of the juice because it's good.

Chop red bell pepper. Scoop a few pitted kalamata olives out of the jar and chop. Scoop a few julienned sun-dried tomatoes out of their jar and leave to melt (because they've been in the fridge and have congealed into a godawful mess).

Take a serrano chilli pepper out of the tub in the freezer, run under hot water for a bit, and chop.

Divide the dough into four, freeze three lumps in sandwich bags, and roll out the fourth. Cut in half. Note, MCP gets the "bigger half". Stretch dough into two thin rectangularish shapes and place on pizza tray.

Assemble da pizza! Oh, first get together all the things you forgot, like the pepperoni from the tub in the fridge. Give one slice to dog, who is telepathically aware of the moment you removed said tub from fridge and shows up with puppy-dog eyes. Check the fridge for basil. If you have some, it's probably last week's and black. Throw it out. Check the basil plant on the kitchen window sill. It's probably looking pathetic but may yield a leaf or two. If not, grab the dried basil or oregano from the spice rack, or both if you're feeling... I don't know. Italian. Don't forget the black pepper.

Give dog another pepperoni because she's not going anywhere.

Okay, now assemble da pizza. First the tomato+oil+garlic. Try to avoid too much of the juice that leached out of the tomatoes because it'll make the dough soggy. Then the bell pepper. Then it gets complicated...

Put the pineapple and pepperoni on MCP's pizza. Put the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and chilli on yours. Add herbs and black pepper to both.

Now for the cheese. "Cheese is not a garnish, it's an ingredient!" Heed these words of wisdom courtesy of MCP. Grab the shredded mozzarella from the freezer - you carefully divided it up into pizza-size portions last week because a packet in the fridge goes moldy in four days. Bash the frozen bag on the counter top until it breaks apart, and sprinkle on pizzas. Extra for MCP. Get the cheese box from the fridge and grate a little cheddar (the orange American stuff) on MCP's pizza. Remember at the last minute that you have a tub of feta in the fridge and you like it, and add that to your pizza. (Warning: It will roll off because you should have put it under the mozzarella.)

Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Suddenly remember that you probably have anchovies in the cupboard... yes, you do, and you forgot to use them yet again. No delicious bursts of salty goodness for you.

While pizzas are cooking, clean up that mess you made, pour iced tea for MCP, and take out napkins, pizza wheel, forks and plates. This takes exactly 10 minutes.

Remove crispy golden pizzas from oven, put on plates and call MCP to dinner. Hide the bandaid on your finger because at some point in the last 40 minutes, you cut yourself.

While dog watches with puppy-dog eyes, eat!

Friday, August 21, 2009

D&A time

D&A means delivery and acceptance in publishing parlance. I D'ed my revised manuscript last Friday, and today it has been A'ed. No more edits! Well, there's the copy edit, and who knows what may crop up there, but the book is DONE. I'm so relieved.

Today I also saw the back cover copy, which needed some tweaking, and Diana, Kristin and I talked about cover quotes (that means sending out the manuscript to other authors in the hope that someone will like it and provide a nice quote for the cover) and I sent Diana my bio. Now I have to get a head shot. I know I was talking about this months ago, but I haven't been to a professional photographer since my grade ten school photo, and it's terrifying.

To congratulate myself for being D&A'ed, I am eating Haagen-Dazs's Five/Ginger ice cream straight out of the tub. (Dis iz permitted because I skipped lunch.) It's almost as good as my favorite ice cream in the world: gingerbread flavor from Jock's, Albert Park, Melbourne.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fuzzy no more

This evening, my editor Diana Gill emailed the cover for Song of Scarabaeus. When I saw it in my inbox, I confess I had to get MCP (that's hubby, for those just joining us) to look at it first while I hid my face in his shoulder... I was so nervous. I knew I would love it, because the artist is Christian McGrath and every one of his covers is fantastic. (See his website and be amazed.) But still, I knew that in the split second it took to look at the screen, Edie and Finn would suddenly become photoreal people after hiding fuzzily in my head for so long. I've known who they are for years, and now I know what they look like, too.

The great thing is, Christian sells prints of his covers from his site so I can order mine when it's up (and so can you). I'm waiting for permission to post it here, but I can tell you it has a lovely gritty spaceship interior as the backdrop, and then there's Finn looking all protective and hot, and Edie looking all sullen and cute.

I never describe these two in great detail because I prefer the reader to imagine what they look like. However, now that I see them staring me in the face, they're perfect. It's so good to meet them!


Friday's theatrical outing was sort of a celebration - I sent my revised manuscript off to my editor. Now I just have to hope the celebration wasn't premature. Next step is the line edit. Meanwhile, today it's back to work on book 2 and this afternoon I have my critique group meeting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Exploding heads

I'm not one for exploding heads, but District 9 is a good movie and I can forgive.

Wikus is a hapless bureaucrat at a military contracting firm, sent into District 9 to serve eviction notices to one million aliens ("prawns") who've been living in squalor for 20 years ever since their mothership broke over Johannesburg. His opinion of the aliens varies from annoying pets to dangerous pests, depending on how they're behaving themselves. In his enthusiasm for routing out illegal activities in the slums, he exposes himself to some alien gunk and begins an icky transformation, and suddenly everyone's after him - to cut him up, to kill him, even to eat him.

That's when heads start exploding. Alien weapons will do that. But the more interesting story is Wickus' journey from a bumbling, casually racist desk jockey to a desperate hunted man forced to depend on the aliens, one in particular, for help.

The movie is filmed in gritty documentary style, for the most part, using news footage and interviews to effectively convey a sense of realism. Oh, and did I mention that it's gritty? I love gritty.

Like Moon, District 9 is a low-budget movie that relies more on story and character than special effects. I live in hope that the upcoming James Cameron movie Avatar, which cost many times more, strikes the same balance.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An awesomely brilliant thing

Hubby, who calls himself MCP, and so shall I, read 11,000 words of my manuscript this evening while I watched House Hunters and Propery Virgins and The Unsellables and various other real estate shows on HGTV (to which I am addicted, ever since we moved).

The first thing we did when we met was exchange manuscripts. (Actually the second thing. The first thing was his correctly using a semi-colon and my being impressed by it.) He is a better writer than I am and will some day achieve huge success, and meanwhile he is a very useful person to have around when I've just written two new chapters that stink and Need Everything Fixed And A Pep Talk Too. He comes up with exactly the right word (slammed not pounded, that's perfect) and exactly the right twist to a mundane sentence.

In return, I edit his work by inserting too many em-dashes--because even though his semi-colon use impresses me, no one else needs to see those nasty things all over the place.

So now I have my 11,000 words back with Track Changes all over them and tomorrow there'll be no time for time for Real Estate Intervention or Curb Appeal because I have 11,000 words to polish.

It's awesomely brilliant to be married to another writer.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Writing and rain

I'm buried deep in rewrites at the moment. It's added 5000 words and I'm not sure that's a good thing. I have a few smaller changes to make by 14th August and then I can get back to the sequel, which is actually the book that's on my mind right now.

The monsoons are well and truly here. Me happy, dog unhappy. It makes little difference in Tucson, actually - humid heat replaces dry heat. It's still over 100 degrees, and no one leaves the safety of their airconditioned cars, houses and buildings. Walk around Tucson any time of the day, any day of the year, and you'd think it was a ghost town.