I request a do over…

August 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Posted in real life, Writing | Leave a comment
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…of the last 2 months. First, I worked myself into exhaustion and had to take 2 weeks off to recover, and then last week, a good friend and coworker died of breast cancer, after a really sudden deterioration.

It’s that last one that’s knocked me for a six. Several women in my circle have said to me that we’ve all known someone that this has happened to, and that’s true, but for me this is the first person who’s been really close to me who hasn’t made it. Breast cancer is not in my family, and maybe I am still a bit young to have known that many people with breast cancer, and so my chance of being close with someone who died from it is smaller, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have no desire to repeat this experience again. I have cried inconsolably more in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years, possibly more than in the last 3 decades. Tomorrow is the funeral, and I am speaking for a few minutes at the service. I’ve decided that since my friend was one of the jolliest, funniest people that I know, that I’ll tell a funny story involving her so I can laugh for a while, and remember her how she’d want to be remembered.

I know things will get better. Even now, they’re better than they were at the beginning of the week. It’s the nature of these things, isn’t it? We can’t crumple into a heap for too long, because the world goes on around us in ways that force our participation. So I’ll get there eventually. It might just take a little while, that’s all.

Needless to say, I’ve done absolutely no writing recently. I feel very bad for those blog visitors who look at my Coming Soon page and constantly see sweet FA. I’m not the type of writer who can write in the face of massive emotional turmoil, I’m afraid. But maybe I’ll put a few words down tonight, and a few more down tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. One foot in front of the other and all that.

Where is the time going?

March 29, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Posted in real life, Writing | Leave a comment
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How it got to be almost April already, I have no idea. I tell myself I’m going to blog regularly, and then life happens, and I just don’t.

2015 is turning out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I have a very intense and mentally draining day job, which tends to ebb and flow in terms of workload, but I can safely say that we are the busiest that we have been in years, with no sign of it slowing down. Add to that some serious health issues being dealt with by people close to me, and all I can say is thank God it’s Easter next week because I am so tired I can hardly bear it.

Having said that, I have been writing – my current WIP is around 53,000 words at the moment, so not insignificant. Given that I never plan things I’m not sure how long it’ll end up being, but at least 80,000 I’d imagine. So a while to go yet, but it’s getting there.

I hope you’re all well, and getting much more sleep than I am!

Sometimes you have to see it with your own eyes

March 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Posted in real life, Writing | 2 Comments
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Some could argue that in the age of the internet, with Google Earth, Google street view, Flickr, etc, that you don’t have to visit a place to write about it. I know of authors who have written novels set in cities that they’ve never set foot in, and I’ve done it myself, never having visited Kalgoorlie and its surrounds, where Eyes Wide Shut and Rust Red: Galvanized are set.

No one’s ever picked me up about any location errors in those books; still, set something in a real place and it’s always a risk that there’ll be something you miss. I almost made a location error in Whitewater – there were plenty of photos of Wylie’s Baths, the place where Luke goes for his daily swim, online for me to look at, beautiful, atmospheric photos that showed me that Wylie’s was just what I wanted in a beachside pool for Luke. But what none of the photos I saw online showed me, what I saw when I got there, was that the pool was graduated, less than ankle deep at the land edge and only about 3 feet or so deep at the sea edge. The photos also failed to show me the big “NO DIVING” warnings painted on the concrete along each of the pool’s edges. Originally I did have Luke and Cam diving into that pool, but in the finished book they walk in, because to remain faithful to the reality of that place, they couldn’t dive.

Now, obviously there is room for poetic license, and writers do that all the time; I made up a whole town in Equilibrium, and made space for a bakery and a beachside café in Coogee for Whitewater where there is no space for those things in the real Coogee. Sometimes, if you need something to be there you just plop it down where you need it and all is right with the world.

Having said all that, if you can visit a place, it’s usually an advantage. Lake Pupuke is a freshwater lake in the middle of the North Shore of Auckland, formed in the craters of two volcanoes (yep, volcanoes). A lake in a volcanic crater sounds like a place where some paranormal happenings might take place, does it not? Observe:

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OK, admittedly, the bright, sunny day makes it look like the best place ever for a swim, but people have drowned there, so…yes. We will see what happens. 🙂

Links, AKA: the world is a strange and wonderful place

January 17, 2014 at 6:38 am | Posted in News, real life | 2 Comments
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Morning, tiddlywinks. I’m on holidays now, I don’t go back to work for 10 days. I am delighted by this prospect. I have been up since 6.30 am, which is not really what people like to do on the first day of their holidays, but the reason is fairly simple: I have an overseas visitor arriving tomorrow, and a novel to finish by this afternoon. Both those things will definitely happen! If it kills me.

But while I sit here and wake up enough to dive into the world of manly men who shear sheep, I bring you some news items from my part of the world, for your reading pleasure.

These first two fall under the category of “It’s a wonder any male in Australia is still alive, that’s how dumb they are”:

A naked man got stuck in a washing machine and was freed when the firemen called to the scene covered him in olive oil

I mean, what can you say about this one. Firemen covering people in olive oil sounds like the start of a porn film I’d like to see, but really, those poor firemen. I’m quite sure they don’t get paid enough for that.

A Queensland man put a budgie cage on his head and went swimming with a tiger shark

Moron. The video of it is ridiculous. The worst part about it is that man is married. His poor wife.

As for hilarious happenings in New Zealand:

A customer pissed a Southland baker off, and got a poo cake in return

Fortunately not a cake made of poo, but a cake made in the–very realistic–likeness of poo. It had a little sign sticking out of it too, but I’ll let you discover what that said on your own. The two best things about it was the baker was entirely unrepentant at having done it, saying that client “deserved what she got”, and the comment of someone from the Chamber of Commerce in Southland, who said, “This time of year people get a bit stressed”. Fantastic.

Why yes, a member of Frankie Goes to Hollywood does live in Auckland, thanks for asking 

Don’t think that everyone I know who was a teenager in the 80s hasn’t considered staking out Oneroa to catch him down the shops. Including me.

Happy new year

January 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Posted in real life | Leave a comment
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I think by this point most countries have seen in the new year, so I’d just like to say that I wish everyone health and happiness for 2014. There’s something hopeful about the first few days of January, when the year hasn’t existed long enough to be disappointing yet, haha. Here’s hoping that 2014 continues to not disappoint, for all of us.

Music soothes the savage beast

November 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Posted in real life | Leave a comment
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So, it’s been a while, internets. Even longer than what’s normal for me. That’s mainly because life is kicking me in the metaphorical nuts right now, and has been since September. First it knocked me down, then it kicked me while I was down there a few times, and just when I thought I was going to be able to get up, it’s kicking me again. So far my health is the only thing that has stayed relatively stable in recent weeks, and even that is only a matter of time, probably.

Anyway! When sucky things like the last few weeks happen, I generally take refuge in music. So I’m going to share with you some songs that have made me happy lately. They are all New Zealand bands/singers, and I encourage you to check them out, because they are fab.

First up, Shapeshifter. These guys are a Drum and Bass band, which is a genre–along with hip hop, soul, and funk–that heavily influences a lot of NZ music. I don’t know what it is about this country, but the Kiwis love their beats. Shapeshifter love their epic, 7-minute, mostly instrumental songs, which depending on your taste can get a little tedious, but this song is a beautiful exception. Paora Apera’s voice shines in this one. He’s got a real yearning quality to his voice which I love.

Something to note, if you’re at all sensitive to strobe-like, flashing lights, skip this video.

On the more rocky side, we have Six60. I have a real soft spot for these guys. They are great live. Singer Matiu Walters also has a yearning quality to his voice that can be really, really beautiful in their slower songs.

The Wyld are a relatively new Kiwi band putting out music that’s a really intriguing mix of genres which took a while to grow on me, but now it has I think they’re amazing. The singer has a certain quality to his voice, something that’s not at all a theme of this post…hmm. But I could listen to 2:15-2:35 over and over again until the end of time.

Last but by no means least, Kimbra. The world knows her as the female voice in Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, but her solo work is fantastic. Judging by how many YouTube videos I found of her doing American promotion, I guess at least some of the world knows that by now? This song is so beautiful I can hardly stand it.

So, there you go. Kiwi music. Not bad, not bad at all.

If only I wouldn’t pay more for postage than I would for the chocolate

September 11, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Posted in real life | 3 Comments
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This time next week, I will be getting ready to go back to Australia for my birthday. I didn’t go back last year at all, mainly because the universe tried to kill me, and it turns out that spending a few weeks with your body trying to eat itself from the inside out takes a while to recover from, surprise, surprise.

Anyway.

I am starting to think about what I am looking forward to most about the trip. I guess some people would say family? Friends? The duty-free fags and grog at the airport? Not being at work for 10 days? Missing out on the positively disgusting NZ weather we’ve been having lately for the same amount of time?

Those people are not me. What I am looking forward to most are these three things:

Strawberry Freddos

Caramello Koalas

Cheese Twisties

Seriously, Strawberry Freddos are delicious and I miss them terribly. I brought Caramello Koalas back for the Kiwis once and they almost died at how good they were. There are chips here called Twisties but they pale in comparison to the real thing so much that it’s not even funny. I’m pretty much going to procure all three things as soon as I get there. And if I can fit two 72-piece boxes of chocolate into my suitcase on the way home I might just do it.

This of course begs the question: what chocolate/lolly/biscuit do you absolutely LOVE that you can’t get where you live? Tim Tams? Junior Mints (nom)? Jaffa Cakes? Fuzzy Peaches? Something that you’ve spent an outrageous amount on ordering online, or that you buy every time you go to the country that sells them. Or that you force your relatives to buy for you, or friends to send you whenever they can. Something that bloody good that you don’t want to live without it.

Olympics

July 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Posted in real life | Leave a comment

Well, London, that was a delightful opening ceremony. LOVED the music montage and the Cauldron, they were absolutely great. The cauldron was really stunning.

As someone who’s lived through a home-town Olympics, all I can say is enjoy it as much as you can. I have fond memories of the Sydney Olympics: watching Andrew Hoy leap off his horse after his gold medal ride in the dressage, clearly absolutely delighted, and watching him race up into the stands to greet his family and friends; the tiny girl beside us at the basketball, wrapped in the Italian flag and screaming her lungs out at the Italian basketball team as they played France; a whole bus full of people cheering their lungs out for the bus driver who had finally managed to get his struggling bus up over the hill we were trying to climb; sitting on the grass in the city watching a whole host of Aussie bands play for free; and just how happy everyone was to be there. I have experienced nothing like that atmosphere before or since.

I’m not really going to watch much of this Olympics, except as much of the equestrian events as I can, and probably some swimming (because – although God knows I do not want to jinx them – Aussies generally pop up in quite a few of the swimming finals), because I’m not into watching sport for sport’s sake, but I hope everyone involved has a great time.

You’ll have to allow me some bias when it comes to the opening ceremony that I think was the best though…

(I can’t embed the highlights video, but for those of you who want to see more than 12 minutes of horses, the link is here).

You know you’re Australian if…and other things

January 28, 2012 at 11:44 am | Posted in real life | 3 Comments
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I’m not sure how it gets to be 3 weeks without a post, but there you go. I don’t know where the time goes.

Apropos of nothing, I bought a new bed. They delivered it today, and I was very much looking forward to it, because the bed I’ve been sleeping on I’ve been sleeping on for 19 years, and mattress technology has changed a lot in that time. And also I am old now, and I ache a lot. They have mattresses for achy people these days.

I bought a slat bed, which I’ve never had before, but putting it together was easy and I was preparing myself for a nice nap on my fancy new mattress (pillow top!) when I laid the first slat down…and it didn’t reach the other side of the frame. By about 5 cm. Now, I don’t know that much about slat beds, but I am reasonably sure that they are supposed to slot into both sides of the frame. Common sense tells me this.

Sad face.

So I called them and told them this, and they said they’d look into it and sort it out today. I am trying not to read too much into the fact that they’d said they’d call me back by 20 minutes ago.

So anyway. It was Australia Day a couple of days ago, but not living in Australia means that I don’t get a day off for that, alas. What I do get is email from the other Australians I know here. This one I thought was particularly amusing – some of these are so true it hurts to admit it!

You know you’re Australian if:

* You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn.

* You’ve made a bong out of your garden hose rather than use it for something illegal such as watering the garden

* You understand that the phrase ‘a group of women wearing black thongs’ refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds.

* You pronounce Melbourne as ‘Mel-bin’.

* You believe the ‘l’ in the word ‘Australia’ is optional.

* You can translate: ‘Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas’.

* You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.

* You think ‘Woolloomooloo’ is a perfectly reasonable name for a place.

* You’re secretly proud of our killer wildlife.

Continue Reading You know you’re Australian if…and other things…

Happy new year

December 31, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Posted in real life | 2 Comments
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Well, it’s officially 2012 in New Zealand, so happy new year, everyone! To all of you who have read and enjoyed my books, and especially those who have taken the time to send me kind words about them, thank you so much. You have truly been the highlight of 2011 for me. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 for us all.

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