Thursday, November 29, 2012

South East Asia Travel Prep

It's going to be 38 in Melbourne today. Which has got me thinking: there's not going to be a lot of weather once Tim and I get to Phnom Penh. By that I mean it's going to be the same forecast, every day, all year. Phnom Penh is quite close to the equator which means daily temps have a lower and upper of about 22 to 34 degrees Celsius. All year. The only difference seems to be the amount of rain that falls and whether there are mangos in the markets.

I've got just three weeks of work left, then it's Christmas in Melbourne, New Year's in Tasmania with Tim's family and friends (first time meeting everyone--I hope they like me, I'm taking their baby/buddy overseas and away from them) then back to Melbourne briefly to collect Tim's car and our suitcases. Then we're driving to Sydney via Benalla, and stopping overnight there to visit my dad who's in town for a gliding competition. We have two nights in Sydney seeing more family and friends, then we fly out to Singapore on January 8.

Every time I say Singapore to myself I get a little excited. I don't know much about the city, but what I've read and seen sounds a) delicious (Singaporeans love their food. Hey, I love food, too!) and b) beautiful. It would be nice if we had the money to stay at the Marina Bay Sands with their infinity pool on the elebenty-eighth floor, but it's the cheap and cheerful Geylang district for us, with its claypot dishes and Happy Smile Hotels. For more on Singapore, particularly the food, I recommend Anthony Bourdain's 'Singapore: The Layover' episode of No Reservations.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel, where Tim and I will be staying in Singapore.
 HAHAHAHA. Kidding. But dammit I am going up to the rooftop for a cocktail. 

Travel preparations are going ... along. It feels like we're barely doing much to prepare for living in another country, me for the first time ever. Tim's lived in LA and Indonesia, owns two t-shirts and five computers, so his pre-packing is non-existent. I've taken bags and bags of clothes and boxes of books to the op-shop. I'm being ruthless, keeping only a few winter essentials to store in Melbourne, and just two bookcases of books. My brother and his girlfriend, whom I live with, are going to mind my things, which is so very wonderful of them as now I don't have to find storage for my bits and bobs and furniture.

We've had our first round of shots. I wholly recommend The Travel Doctor on Little Bourke Street. Dr Sonny Lau was lovely, and the nurse Jo gave me three of the least painful shots I've ever had. Only two more rounds to go! (Ack.) My mother has been sending me articles about dengue fever, which I'm dutifully ignoring. I know what you have to do to try and avoid getting it, but there's no sure-fire prevention and if you get it you just get it. I don't need to read about stage-four haemorrhaging. Worry isn't prophylactic.

On the bookish side of things, my publisher Zoe has set up a meeting in Singapore for me and my distributor there to meet up and also visit some booksellers. I'm looking forward to going to Kinokuniya for starters.

And what I'm looking forward to the most? Putting 'Writer' on my immigration forms for the first time. Oy vey. Five weeks to go.

Friday, November 9, 2012

It's my birthday, and I'm buying the presents!


The worldwide release of Blood Song and Blood Storm falls within two days of my twenty-eighth birthday, so what better way to celebrate than a giveaway.

It's a Twitter comp, so see the tweet here on how to enter.
***10/11 EDIT*** 
The worldwide release of books has been held up due to a technical glitch at Random House. I will reopen the comp in a few weeks when they will be available.



On another note, Tim and I bought our tickets to Singapore yesterday! We fly out on January 8.

*zooms around making aeroplane noises*

It's a one-way ticket. Super scary and exciting.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Big News

Actually, there are several bits of news. Many newses! And they all make me very excited and happy. There is book news, professional news and personal news. Not too personal. We don't want to get all TMI here. But these bits of news are all INTERRELATED. I don't know where to start. The news that affects you guys the most? The romantic news? (No I'm not getting married; nor am I pregnant. Ew. Sorry, parents.) The newest news? Perhaps I should begin at the beginning, continue until the end and then stop, as the caterpillar said. Or was it the walrus...

As you can imagine, especially if you're a writer or other breed of creative person, working full time and creating in your spare time is not a big maker of the happies. Waking up with an idea for a longform journalistic piece examining people's perceptions of free speech and the legal ramifications when high profile murder cases are discussed on social media and then having to put it aside because you have work and a novel and yet more novels to work on can bring tears to your eyes. I'm not using hyperbole here. I actually did well up.

I said a long, long time ago in my Dear Agent posts in 2009 I spent as much time learning how to query agents and then subsequently querying them as I did writing Blood Song. And since then I have spent that time writing the novel over again doing publicity work. Ergo, the time I have for writing these days is only spent in actual writing about a third of the time.

Gosh, this is coming out as some sort of mega whinge. What I'm trying to do is paint a picture about why I've made a certain decision.

But first.

When I started seeing my adorable, gorgeous, wonderful partner nearly a year ago (happy anniversary for the 29th, sweetheart) I said straight out that I wanted to live overseas in 2013. At that time my intention was to move to Edinburgh. It is a UNESCO City of Literature, like Melbourne is, and I could see myself in some grotty little garret, immobilised by sleet and rain and wind and social deprivation, glued to a laptop and pounding out delicious chapters. The brief respite of he the Scottish summer might--between showers--bring about some frolicking. But then it would be straight back to the laptop.

Fast forward through some squishy couple stuff, the oh-my-you-want-to-travel-toos, the where-could-we-be-happy stuff. Edinburgh was quietly put aside. (A friend of a friend ranting at me at Horse Bazaar at 2am about how goddamn depressingly awful Scotland is and what was I THINKING may have swayed me a tiny bit.)

I spent my time off this year with a girlfriend in the islands of Thailand, and then visiting another girlfriend who has settled in Phnom Penh with her French boyfriend and had a baby. (How's this for a pedigree: little Jaya is French-Canadian-Japanese. He is stunningly adorable and will probably be fluent in six languages by the time he's out of nappies.) I love, love, loved Phnom Penh. More on that in the coming weeks.

My first piece of news is ... I quit my job this week. My last day of work will be December 28.

My second piece of news is  ... I am moving to Phnom Penh with said partner. He's spent quite a bit of time travelling through SE Asia, but he's never been to Cambodia. Nevertheless, he's agreed to give it a try with me. How awesome is he?

And now some book news. That's what you've all come here for, right?

This news concerns people living outside Australia. From November 11, the ebook version will be on sale everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. If you want it in English, it's all yours.

Did I say the ebook version? I mean BOTH ebook versions. Blood Song and Blood Storm will be available electronically in all territories, courtesy of Random House Australia.

But wait! There's more. If you're in Malaysia, Singapore or the UK, hard copies will be appearing shortly too. And if you're in the US ... well, the most I can say is soon.

How soon?


AND. If you're in Singapore or Malaysia, I'm going to be travelling through there in January and I plan to get to, at the very least, Kinokuniya, and try to sign copies.(Not all bookstore let you sign copies. Readers Feast in the city has two copies of Blood Storm by they remain, sadly, unsigned.)

A huge thanks to my publisher Zoe at  Random House Australia for taking on the distribution for the Lharmell books. Now when I get emails from far-flung corners of the globe I will be able to reply YES. Yes you can read the books!

TL;DR?

Blood Song and Blood Storm have overseas distribution; I've quit my job and I'm going to SE Asia to write for a while. I KNOW. I can't believe it either.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jill Meagher, SlutWalk and Reclaim the Night Sydney Road

Australian readers, and some abroad, will be aware of the sad events of the last week surrounding Jill Meagher's disappearance and the subsequent discovery of her body today. Like many other Melbourne women, I've been preoccupied with thoughts that it could so easily have been myself or one of my girlfriends walking along Sydney Road in the early hours of Saturday morning. It's a walk I have taken many times before.

Sydney Road has held a special place in my heart the last ten years. My first share house was in Brunswick West and I spent a lot of time in Sydney Road cafes, bars, and shopping at Savers and Spotlight. It's remained one of the few unpopularised main drags of the city. It has a natural quality that I adore that's been lost from streets like Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and more lately Gertrude and Smith Streets in Collingwood. Fun places to hang out, but without the multicultural, unvarnished atmosphere of Sydney Road.

By the time I attended the University of Melbourne from 2002, a lot of radical feminist activities that had been so popular there during the 90s had disappeared. More recently, we've had SlutWalk. While I'm pleased to see a resurgence in radical feminist activities, I did not and never will march in a SlutWalk. I see no advantage in women "reclaiming" a word that has been flung at us as an insult. One that has never had any good connotations that need rescuing. I find the ideology of SlutWalk to be a little immature and misguided; immature in that it succeeded at grabbing headlines but little else, and misguided in that to a casual onlooker, the intention of a march with 'slut' in the title can so easily be misconstrued. ("Women WANT to be called sluts now?") I did consider briefly marching in my street clothes instead of an artificial slut uniform, but in the end decided not to be a part of it at all. In the words of a famous feminist whom I can't remember the name of, there are a million ways to be a feminist. SlutWalk just isn't one of mine.

Today I came across Reclaim the Night Sydney Rd 2012 on Facebook. It's a march that is part memorial, part activism. The page has already attracted over 4,700 likes at time of writing. Reclaim the Night is so apt in this circumstance, as Jill Meagher's rape and death highlights what we already knew about violence against women: that it has absolutely bloody nothing to do with the clothes you're wearing.

I want to leave flowers at Duchess Bridal, where the CCTV footage of Jill and her accused killer was recorded. I want to attend tonight's gathering at the Baptist church on Sydney Road. But neither of those activities are 'me'. But I will march in October on Sydney Road, in defiance and sadness, and hope to reclaim a sense of safety in a much-loved area of Melbourne.

Note: Before anyone gets on my case about SlutWalk, these are my opinions and I know others feel very differently. I agree with the reasons the march was set up, just not it's manifestation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please, please, please, do not speculate on or discuss the man accused of Jill Meagher's rape and murder, especially online. This could result in the case never being heard in court as Adrian Bayley's defense lawyers could argue that he's already undergone a trial by social media, and thus will be unable to receive a fair trial.

Please 'like' the Reclaim the Night Sydney Rd 2012 page, and unlike any pages calling for Bayley's hanging or similar, and delete any photographs of him or posts speculating or damning him.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review and Interview: Emily Maguire's Fishing for Tigers

Six years ago, Mischa Reese left her abusive husband and suffocating life in California and reinvented herself in steamy, chaotic Hanoi. In Vietnam, she finds satisfying work and enjoys a life of relative luxury and personal freedom. Thirty-five and single, Mischa believes that romance and passion are for teenagers; a view with which her cynical, promiscuous expat friends agree.

But then a friend introduces Mischa to his visiting eighteen-year-old son. Cal is a strikingly attractive Vietnamese-Australian boy, but he's resentful of his father, and of the nation which has stolen him away. His beauty and righteous idealism awaken something in Mischa and the two launch into an affair that threatens Mischa's friendships and reputation and challenges her sense of herself as unselfish and good.

Set among the louche world of Hanoi's expatriate community, 'Fishing for Tigers' is about a woman struggling with the morality of finding peace in a war-haunted city, personal fulfilment in the midst of poverty and sexual joy with a vulnerable youth.

You know when you're reading a book and you could swear that you were really reading a memoir? This was one of those times. Perhaps it's because Emily Maguire is a talented non-fiction writer and essayist as well as a fiction author. I came to know her work via Princesses and Pornstars, which examines the new Madonna-whore dichotomy. (Favourite chapter title: Your Vagina is Not a Car.) But Fishing for Tigers is not a memoir. It's just that good atmospherically and in its characterisation. 

I adore south east Asia. I love the heat and the humidity, perhaps because it reminds me of growing up in north western Australia. The food, the watery beer, the crazy roads. Despite some similarities with the weather up north, it's a far cry from sedate, organised Australia; the ideal place for a woman who wants to lose herself to go. There are very few expectations placed on Mischa, and as she doesn't understand much of what many people around her are saying to her, she's free to escape. 

The scenes between her and Cal are fascinating when they're talking, and delicious when they're not. But this book is so much more than it's steamy (*fans self*) passages. It's a challenging one for Australians, as you see yourself in the expat crew that makes up Mischa's rag-tag group of friends. It's a confronting book in places, but also very uplifting. Highly recommended.

Interview with Emily Maguire

Your descriptions of what it's like to be an expat in Hanoi are very detailed. How long did you spend living there? Although I've spent quite a lot of time in Hanoi, I've never actually lived there. I first visited on an Asialink literature residency for three months in 2008 and I fell seriously, deeply in love with the place and have returned for at least a month each year since then.
 
In Fishing for Tigers, Cam's reaction to the attitude of expats towards the locals is one of revulsion. Did you share a similar experience?
Not really. Certainly I met some deeply unpleasant characters in hotel bars, but I could say that about every place I've been to. (I should probably stop talking to drunk strangers in hotel bars. Bad habit.)
Cal's response to the expats in particular, and to Vietnam general, are very much rooted in his personal situation, which is as the child of a Vietnamese refugee who wants nothing to do with the place, and an Australian man who chooses to live there even though it means he rarely sees his son. To Cal, every expat is his selfish father and every Vietnamese person is either the communist thug of his mother's childhood or a reminder of what his own life might have been had his mother not escaped. Mischa and her friends do act appallingly sometimes, but Cal's judgement of them is not always clear-eyed or fair.
 
In several scenes, Mischa extracts herself and Cam from seemingly innocuous situations whilst in Hanoi, such as when she makes them leave bars when she thinks they've been overheard. There's also a scene where she doesn't let Cam interfere with a man who is brutalising his wife. Are these examples of Mischa's reticence to immerse herself in Vietnamese life, or is she right to behave so, and why?
It's complicated. Mischa spent her twenties in an abusive marriage, before escaping to Hanoi. I think once you've lived with violence in the way she has, you're always alert to danger, worried about offending someone, angering them, causing a scene. So Mischa is all about staying under the radar, avoiding conflict, keeping the peace. I think she'd be like this wherever she was living, but the complicating factor in Hanoi is that she is very much an outsider and so there's a real chance that if she did get involved in conflicts with local people that she would be blundering in some way, possibly making things worse due to a lack of understanding. So it's partly a defence mechanism and partly the sensible caution of an outsider. Whether her behaviour in any given situation is right or not is up to the reader! 
 
4. The "cougar" relationship has risen in prominence in recent years. What did you like best about writing an older woman-younger man relationship, and what did you like the least?
I rarely thought about in those terms. I think it's so important to not think of characters as age groups or types or whatever and so Cal was always this complicated, unique individual and so was Mischa. What interested me most about their relationship was how their unique sets of life experiences and prejudices and fears played off each other. I loved discovering the ways in which his resentment about his father and his idealism about how good people should act conflicted with Mischa's live-and-let-live, determinedly disengaged way of life. Having said that, I did have a bit of fun with the more overtly teenaged aspects of Cal's behaviour. I love how utterly relaxed and casually generous he is as a lover, and I love his righteous idealism which I remember from my own teen years and bitterly regret having lost.

One of the interesting things in talking about age (and age differences between lovers) is how much people project their own ideas about what any given age looks or acts or feels like. I was very aware while writing that although Cal is a teenager, the adults around him are, in many ways, less mature. They're certainly less honest and thoughtful. I don't think this is an exceptional situation. I remember being a teenager and thinking that adults knew what they were doing and only did things for sensible reasons which they understood and could justify. Now, of course I realise that people in their thirties and forties and beyond are just as impulsive and selfish and clueless about their own motivations as teenagers, but they get away with it because every other adult is in on the conspiracy.
 
5. You are well known for your articles and feminist non-fiction such as Princesses and Porn Stars (which I loved) as well as your fiction. How much fiction versus non-fiction do you see in your future?
I am very much in love with fiction at the moment - reading it, writing it, thinking and talking about it. But I also love the way that my non-fiction writing allows me to feel part of a huge, inspiring, important movement towards social justice. So the answer, I suppose, is that I hope to be writing lots and lots of both forever and ever.

Thanks for answering my questions, Emily!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Launch Date and Review Copies: Possessing Freedom


If you can’t see yourself, how do you know you exist?

Melbourne, Australia: 2026

Alice Travers, 17, is stuck in a psych ward. When she discovers her imaginary friends are ghosts, and that some of them are not so friendly, things get complicated.

Told in 12 short stories by four authors, Possessing Freedom plays out a supernatural thriller for Young Adult readers through 6 interlinked point of view characters.

This is Possessing Freedom, the new YA ghost novel I've been working on with Beau Hillier, Belinda Dorio and Steve Rossiter, and it's out Monday September 21, worldwide as an ebook and locally in paperback.

Review Copies
Do you like ghosties? Do you like psych wards and violent possessions? Who doesn't? If you're a blogger, review copies are available from the publisher Steve and can be requested via email. Best thing is, they're available worldwide, just like the book will be. Hurrah!

Add it on Goodreads.

Visit the Facebook page.

Enter the $2000 fan-fiction competition.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog Tour for Blood Storm


The blog tour starts tomorrow! Here's the schedule:


SEPTEMBER 20 Inkcrush

SEPTEMBER 21 Refracted Light

SEPTEMBER 22 Little Book Owl (Blood Song)

SEPTEMBER 23 Intrepid Reader (Blood Song)

SEPTEMBER 24 The Rest is Still Unwritten

SEPTEMBER 25 Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic

SEPTEMBER 26 The Tales Compendium

SEPTEMBER 27 Larissa Book Girl (Blood Song)

SEPTEMBER 28 The Eclectic Reader

SEPTEMBER 28 Beauty & Lace (Guest post)

SEPTEMBER 29 Treasured Tales for Young Adults (Blood Song)

SEPTEMBER 30 Ticket to Anywhere (Guest post)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recent Reads: Gaysia by Benjamin Law & Confessions of a GP by Dr Ben Chandler


I became familiar with Benjamin Law several years ago when he was writing for Frankie magazine. Hilarious stuff. I haven't properly read his work again until now, though of course I see him on Twitter. Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East is a fantastic country-by-country look at the main issues affecting LBGT people throught Asia. Law talks to moneyboys in Bali, beauty pageant contestants in Thailand and "invisible" gays and lesbians in Japan and China. The interviews and commentary are amusing as well as illuminating, while some are downright angry-making, especially the ones with religious and spiritual zealots who claim to be able to cure homosexuality. The pathos Law feels for those who are unable to embrace who they are due to cultural and political pressures is palpable. A fascinating book about some of our closest neighbours. Highly recommended.


Confessions of a GP is a vignette-style memoir that's part reminiscing about memorable (kinky, unusual, sad) patients, part musing on the NHS and part exploration of what it really means to be a doctor. It's a quick, amusing read. My favourite parts were the insiders view of the NHS, the things patients demand and do that cost the NHS thousands of pounds per year. Thank goodness the NHS, and heath care countries like Australia, is free, but Daniels has identified places where changes could be made to prevent monumental wastage. (That makes me sound a bit conservative doesn't it. I hate talking about money.) I picked this up for $1.99 on iBooks. (Oh jaysus there I go again.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two exciting opportunities for writers

Harper Voyager, the fantasy and sci-fi imprint of Harper Collins, is open for digital submissions from unagented authors for two weeks only.



And for the romance writers, Harlequin is running So You Think You Can Write. (Now if that was a TV show, I'd watch it.) There's heaps of awesome tips and guides, and the prize is a publishing contract.
 


Will you submit to either?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

REVIEW: The Ghost's Child, Sonya Hartnett

There was a lovely Australian YA novel retrospective on Kill Your Darlings a few weeks back, and one of their highlights that caught my eye was Sonya Hartnett's The Ghost's Child. I've only read one Hartnett novel (more on which anon) but I knew I'd be in good hands. She's a beautiful writer.

The Ghost's Child is set somewhere back at the turn of the last century, in a big house on the coast, just outside a big city. Maddy is a girl who seems to adore all things beautiful; especially natural, vibrant things like sea eagles and ocean waves. She meets a young, enigmatic, almost wraith-like man on the beach one day, and she falls desperately in love with him. But she learns just how heartbreaking it can be when your love puts the object of your affection in a cage.

The story is told by an old woman to a young boy, looking back over a rich life; a life which, while at times happy and always full, was not without great heartache. It's real lump-in-your-throat stuff. Short, sweet and painfully beautiful.

The other Sonya Hartnett novel I've read is Sleeping Dogs. You really couldn't find two novels more different in theme and mood, though you could argue that some of the parental relations had similar overtones. Sleeping Dogs is a raw, snapping-jaw of a novel, brutal as it is brief. I have to say I enjoyed Sleeping Dogs more, only because my tastes run towards violent and dark things, rather than weepy cups-of-tea stories. It probably does The Ghost's Child a disservice to put it quite like that. It's a vivid story, and intensely beautiful. Read it if you would like a good cry. (But read Sleeping Dogs if you'd rather something dark and shocking.)


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Countdown Teaser Quotes #5 & #6

There was no quote yesterday as Leap chewed through my laptop cord. Okay, it was really a harming attack. No, wait, it was an acid storm. (Actually it was something awful known as "Monday" and a visit to my spine-cracking witchdoctor, AKA chiropractor.)

But that means there's two quotes today. Yay!

Quote #5


Quote #6

That means there's only one quote to go and THAT means ... Blood Storm is released TOMORROW.

Exciting!! *pops champagne cork*

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Count Down Teaser Quote #3: Blood Storm

Today's quote from Blood Storm is rather dark, and skips ahead to the latter half of the book. It's a Zeraphina-only quote, and one of the most important scenes of the book. What happens next is ... well, you'll soon see.

  


Friday, July 27, 2012

Countdown Teaser Quote #2: Blood Storm

A short one today. Where are Rodden and Zeraphina sneaking of from? And too? And why does Rodden seem so happy about it?


The first chapter of Blood Storm is available in its entirety. Huzzah!

Five sleeps to go, five sleeps to go ...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Countdown Teaser Quote #1: Blood Storm

To celebrate the last week before Blood Storm is released, I'll be posting seven of my favourite mini scenes from the book. The first is from chapter five, in which Zeraphina does something to alarm Rodden ...


Hmm, exactly, Rodden. Why did she do that?

You also can download the first chapter of Blood Storm in its entirety.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First Chapter of Blood Storm

It's just one week (a week!) till Blood Storm is released. To celebrate, here is the first chapter of Blood Storm to read.



I'll just make some chamomile tea while you read it. *makes tea* *sits patiently*

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Happiest Author, and Lately: In Pictures

It's only two weeks till Blood Storm is released! I've received my first Goodreads review from Celine and BOO-YAH it's five star. *skips around in a circle*

And I realise I haven't been blogging lately, so here's an update of what's been going on in my life the last few weeks. 

Being domestic goddesses: my friends Shona and Annie over for sewing





Tiv helping me cut out a pattern
 
 
Australia Post box boosted my ego!

 
Go karting. I wooooooon! (Didn't win. And on a side note, I'm now taking driving lessons! Had my third one on Saturday. Nailing the clutch, but the steering, not so good ...)

 
Installation at Fed Square. It's GORGEOUS.

 
Cambodia

 
Cambodia

 
Koh Pangan, Thailand

 
Bangkok

Bangkok

So what's new with you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blood Song nominated for an Inky Award

I'm so thrilled and honoured to receive my first award nomination. Today the Inky Award Longlist was announced -- ten Australian books and ten international books -- and Blood Song was on it.

The books are chosen by the good folks at the Centre for Youth Literature, last year's Inky Awards judges and an "independent industry expert". How mysterious does that sound?

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Inkys are a teen-choice award, so once the short list has been announced (decided on by a panel of teen judges), voting will open on the Inside a Dog website. View the rest of the longlist here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Crannying: Finding the time to write

One of the questions I get asked the most is "Where do you find the time to write?" Usually after, "How much money have you made so far? Is that rude to ask? It is, isn't it? But seriously, how much?"


I find time because I cranny. To some friends, an after work drink starts at 9.30pm on a Monday night. Are you kidding me?! I am done by 9.30. I'm halfway to bed, and the other half of me is watching Frasier and drinking a chamomile tea. The movie starts at 8.30? Screw that, we're seeing the 7pm session, and we're eating beforehand.

It's friends who don't see me more than every fortnight or month or so who ask the finding-the-time question. Probably because the see me of an evening or weekend with a glass of wine in my hand, make-up on and in a dress. It's very difficult to be stressed or distracted with half a bottle of pinot noir or grigio sloshing through your veins.

If it's a birthday or engagement or I've got cabin fever, I'll stay out late. But most of the time I won't. I'll have an early night, and be up at 5am on a weekday, staggering to the kettle with a small black cat sitting on my shoulder.

My really close friends know I cranny. Cranny is a made up word. It's like a piking but piking not because you're lame (I hope) or a socially awkward penguin (I hope even more), but because you have to be up early. And of your own volition. Sometimes I get to drop that everso dramatic, self-important word, "deadline". But mostly I get up early because I want to."Want to" is a bit misleading though. I become irritable if I haven't written a few thousand words in a while. It's like withdrawal from a drug. I feel a high after a good writing session. I imagine it's because I've been writing regularly since the start of 2009. It's become a habit, and not one I feel the need to kick. (I did kick the boyfriend out this morning, though. Poor thing. We did lie in till 10.30am but there was no hand-holdy breakfast, no idle, "Oh what a lovely day, shall we go out?" conversation. Just me with a mad glint in my eye, edging towards the laptop.)

"Cranny" probably came from that commercial for cranberry juice that goes, "Where's the cranny, granny?" It doesn't make a lot of sense, but a dear friend made it up and it sounds suitably nanna-ish and sensible. And that's me making time for my writing really: nanna-ish and sensible. But I get sh%* done. (Not my tax returns though.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Exclusive Interview with Zeraphina and Rodden at Eleusinian Mysteries

Want to read the ONLY between-the-novels piece I've written? Then go here, to the Eleusinian Mysteries blog and read Brodie's lucky last Valentine's Blog Event post. There's some hints about Rodden's past and a chance to  see Zeraphina from another's perspective. The interview takes place shortly before the events of Blood Storm. I can't wait for you guys to read book two!

Also, COVER NEWS. I have seen it, dear readers. The cover of Blood Storm. It's absolutely gorgeous. So atmospheric, wild and beautiful. I didn't imagine anything could top the Blood Song cover, but this blows it out of the water.

My designer is adding the final touches of fairy dust and dragons' blood (it's very technical, what these designers do) and running it past a battery of love spells and courage potions, and then you'll be able to gaze upon it too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Hatchet Job: Celebrating a roasting?

The inaugural Hatchet Job of the Year award was presented today (the 7th in the UK). As its name suggests, it's a literary prize unlike the Man Booker or the Pulitzer. First of all, it's given to a reviewer, not a writer; specifically, to a reviewer who penned "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant" review published in a magazine or newspaper in 2011." The award is essentially celebrating a roasting done in a show-offy way.

That doesn't seem right, I thought to myself. That's just not cricket, as they say.

Then I read a few of the reviews on the shortlist. And they are very good. They brought to task shallow biographers, glaring errors, literary wankery. I read the rest. And I liked them.

In two minds, but erring towards the I-don't-like-its, I described the award to T over dinner last night, which I originally read about in a Wheeler Centre post. His feelings were very different to mine. (Let the record show that he's not a big reader and doesn't know his Bookers from his Brownlows; but he's got a brain between his ears and can form an opinion or two.) He thought it was essentially a positive: "If it means authors will write better books, then surely that's a good thing? And how serious is the prize, anyway?"

Not at all serious, it seems. The prize is a year's supply of potted shrimp.

While eating I remembered another similar award, similar in that it celebrates something bad: the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Oh boy. In it's nineteenth year, the award's intention is "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it". (Interestingly, the award has gone mostly to men. Another example of gender bias in lit awards or are we happy to let this one slide?)

Sotto voce, I read aloud passages to T from last year's winner as we ate our dumplings, David Guterson's Ed King (he of Snow Falling on Cedars fame), a modern retelling of Oedipus. There was much snorting with laughter over the spectacularly unerotic prose. (Guterson received news of the dubious honour with equanimity: "Oedipus practically invented bad sex, so I'm not in the least bit surprised".)

I can take glee in the Bad Sex award. I even enjoyed reading the shortlisted reviews for the Hatchet Job. But still something in me recoils from it. The latter celebrates the shredding of an entire book, even if it is with wit and nous.

The shortlisted books are written by award winning authors who presumably sell well. They can, it's possible, take such things in their stride. I doubt an award that took aim at reviews of midlist books would be received half as well. And can you imagine if the blogosphere set up such a thing? As much as the Twilight-bashing goes on, I just can't see it happening without howls of protests from all quarters.

I don't entirely condemn the Hatchet Job (seriously, read the reviews, they are illuminating to say the least). But as I said--*holds glass of Pims, twitches satin frock*--it's just not cricket.

~~~

I'm bound to be squeamish, being an author. But a lot of you are reviewers. What do you think about this? Will writers write better books? If you're a writer, do you think about what reviewers will think of your book as you write? Do you like dumplings??

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm on Facebook

Yep, you can totally like me on Facebook now. Go on, click the link. You know you want to. I'll be posting bits of writing advice and updates on the LHARMELL books. I'll even be doing the cover reveal of BLOOD STORM there. Why would you not go hit like?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reluctant Christian Melinda Tankard Reist's attempt to muzzle debate on the internet


Australian conservative "feminist" activist Melinda Tankard Reist has instigated legal action against blogger Dr Jennifer Wilson at No Place For Sheep for bringing people's attention to Reist's religious beliefs and how they influence her political views. It seems Reist would rather people not know she's a Christian, and/or is using the action and subsequent outrage for publicity purposes. 

Reist believes in protecting women from abortion, pornography and sexualised images. Funny, I thought we had minds of our own. 


Tankard Reist appears to be worried her public campaigns to "protect" women will be seen as motivated by religious fervour instead of evidence and reason. Instead of paying lawyers to try to silence Dr Wilson, she would be better off addressing this issue and answering her critics.
 Otherwise she risks painting herself as a reluctant Christian - and willing bully.
Sign the petition if you disagree with Reist trying to muzzle debate on the internet and side-stepping questions about her religious beliefs. Relevant posts/articles at the bottom of the petition.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Couch monstering

couch monstering (verb): to exhibit the behaviour of a couch monster; in particular to sit, lie or sprawl on a couch in a post-artistic daze.



This was the birthday card I was given by my brother and his girlfriend. For those just joining us, I live with them in a lovely house in Melbourne. We have a cat, Tivali, who is The Only Cat in the World. (She may be rudely disabused of the notion soon. We're thinking of adopting cat #2.)

The message inside:

We see you like this so often, dreaming up stories on the couch. So we thought it would be most apt as it also reflects the worlds you see. Happy birthday.

I am a couch monster. I wish I looked as pretty as this girl while I was monstering. With butterflies shooting out the ends of my hair. I could do without the wormy tail though. It's very Lharmellin don'tcha think?

"Post-artistic daze" is highly interpretable. Hangovers count. For us artsy types in Melbourne it's practically mandatory to sit in a little laneway bar feeling equal parts fabulous and misunderstood. Till 4am. With espresso martinis. Then stumble in and be greeted by a sleepy-eyed cat who hopes you might drop your beans on toast/pizza/half-eaten Hungry Jacks on the floor. (Has totally happened. She's a lucky cat.)

What is one to do the next day except cleave oneself to the couch with a bottle of diet tonic water, said cat, and a book/audio book/a billion eps of something funny/dramatic/suitably vapid? Or a Ryan Gosling movie. Oh lord. *fans self* (Is Ryan Gosling cuter than a puppy? I lie awake at night wondering this. What about a room full of puppies? What if Ryan Gosling was dressed AS a puppy?)

Post-artistic daze could mean post-date. Oh god, dating is the work of Satan. I am not in the Satanic phase right now thank goodness. I'm in the Lord You're Cute, Do You Want To Spend Every Weekend Together? phase. Which is about elebenty billion times more awesome than dating.


It could also mean post-oh-frack-I-hurt-all-over. (Perhaps from writers' back.) Right now I hurt all over, but it's because I beat myself up at the gym twice this week. (I nearly fell off my stationary bike watching the clip to LMFAO's "I'm Sexy and I Know It" <------- CANNOT BE UNSEEN.) Twice at the gym this week. I'm practically Jane Fonda.

It could also mean post-event, or post-publication, or even (oh happy days) post-I-just-wrote-three-thousand-words-and-my-brain-giveth-out.

But SOMETIMES. Just SOMETIMES. I am actually dreaming up stories. And the best place for that is the couch. Writers apparently like to be alone, but I don't. Maybe it's feng shui. Maybe it's the extra stimulation. But I don't like to be hidden away when I work. Or couch monster.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Writers' arse? Try writers' back.

Voltaran. Ibuprofen. Muscle relaxants. Sling. Temazepan. Panadeine Forte. Ultrasounds. Ice. Naproxen. Cortisone injections. Anti-inflammatory gel. Tiger balm. Kenesio taping. Physiotherapy. Sports medicine. X-rays. Remedial massage. Chiropractor. Pilates. Massage.

These are all the treatments and medications I've used since I screwed up my shoulder in Greece last July. The technical term (though I like "screwed") is bursitis, which is a type of rotator cuff injury. It was due to bad posture exacerbated by dragging a suitcases on and off Greek islands.

It hurt a frackload. I cried in hotel rooms, alone. It was pathetic. I ignored "one to two tablets every four hours; do not exceed more than 6 in 24 hours" instructions on inadequate over-the-counter-medications. I could not lie flat on my back.

There were a few funny moments.  Like when I accidentally took a muscle relaxant (from the ER on Crete; at last some real drugs), a sleeping tablet and painkiller all at once one night. Visions of Heath Ledger and Marylin Monroe flashed through my head, along with the headline, "Soon-To-Be YA Novelist Dies Alone in Hotel Room of Presecription Drug Cocktail Overdose". I made myself a coffee and watched Greek news till I thought I was out of choking on my own vomit territory.

I had to sprint for the plane in Athens, and a thong [flip-flop] broke. The crappiest underwear ever threatened to fall down, and I couldn't pull them up with only one arm (busted one in a sling) and still hold onto my carry-on. I must have looked a total DINGBAT running through Athens airport barefoot and stopping every few metres to yank my knickers up. Would that I had worn shorts.

Somewhere over the Pacific my feet and ankles swell up to nearly twice their normal size. At this stage I haven't laid down flat on my back for a week and a half. Sleep happens in armchairs, air plane or ferry seats. Lymph drainage has all but ceased.


When I return home I see my GP, who takes me off the muscle relaxants and put me on Panadeine Forte. Two things: 1. Codeine, and 2. Wheeeeeeeeee. If you've had your wisdom teeth out you'll know what I mean. He also sends me for an ultrasound. The radiographer can find nothing wrong. The GP can find nothing wrong. More tears, and insistence that I'm not faking. Two weeks without having slept lying down.

A sports medicine doctor looks at my scans, takes me off everything except Epic Dose Voltaran and shoots me full of cortisone. (Literally. Straight into the shoulder, front and back. Motherfracking OW.) Third week of sleeping sitting up.

A week later I start remedial massage. I want to punch my physio in the face. She's incredibly sweet and apologetic. I hate her. I have the dubious pleasure of having one of the worst arms she's ever seen. All the muscles have either freezed up and feel like steel cables, or have shut down and withered to nothing. There's a hole where my trapezoid should be.

Finally, after a month of sleep in armchairs, I can lie down in a bed again. Much sleeping ensues.

I have gained back a lot of strength in my left arm. I can now lift a full bottle of red wine with my left hand and pour myself a glass. THANK GOD. IT'S THE IMPORTANT THINGS YOU MISS. My chiro has been fantastic. The x-rays were eye opening. My spine bends and curves in all these strange ways, probably due to being quite tall, growing fast as a teenager and a lot of waitressing in my early 20s.

I spend all my day at work at a computer, and a lot of my time at home on one too. All my energy is directed forward (at the keyboard) and my back is very weak. I slouch. I have uneven posture. My core "isn't engaged". It's getting better, but it's bloody hard to remember to work and tell your muscles how to behave all at once. I would also rather go home and write rather than go to pilates.

TL;DR?

SIT THE FRACK UP. UNCROSS THOSE LEGS. GO TO PILATES. SHOULDERS BACK. SUCK IN THAT GUT.

OR YOU WILL BE IN A WORLD OF PAIN.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Defunding Planned Parenthood and the attack on women's health

When I read things like this (via someone's tweet--I love Twitter for that, everyone posts the most amazing things) I can't help feel angry and scared all at once: Birthright: The Politics of Planned Parenthood.

This is in the States, of course, and we have our own system here in Australia. First of all, I'm pro-choice. This doesn't mean I'm a fan of abortions. No one likes abortions. But they are necessary part protecting women's biological rights.

Planned Parenthood doesn't just perform abortions. They deal with the whole spectrum of women's sexual health, and often for America's poorest women who couldn't afford treatment otherwise. So when Republican candidates are vowing to defund Planned Parenthood, I can't help but feel disgusted.

And every time women's health rights are attacked in America, I can't help but feel worried for Australia. Especially with an opposition leader like Tony Abbott waiting in the wings. Tony Abbott, whose idea of abortion law reform is offer the alternative of counselling via church groups. Could he be more out of touch with most young women?

As always, when I get annoyed, I want to write fiction about it. Last night I pulled out my feminist piece that I started in 2009, begun just before Blood Song and have been mulling over ever since. I reworked the beginning, added a few things ... Oh dear, looks like there are now four books I need to finish this year.

Addition: While writing this, Isaac Marion (author of the amazing zombie novel Warm Bodies) tweeted this article, Teddy bears passed out to Ohio senators. The bears supposedly have the heartbeat of an 18-week-old foetus, and are meant to convince senators to pass a bill that makes it illegal to perform an abortion of a foetal heartbeat is detected. Even if the mother's life is in danger. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Things I'm looking forward to in 2012: writing and otherwise

The release of Blood Storm in August
I can't wait for this! The editing (about to start), the cover (not begun yet, but I have an idea of what it's going to have on it!) the actual release ... It's going to be awesome. I HOPE YOU ALL LOVE IT.


Finishing three books
THAT'S RIGHT I'M GOING TO FINISH THREE BOOKS THIS YEAR. I've started them all and I know how they all finish. So now just to get them out of my head and onto the page. They are: Blood Queen (12K in people, and it's lookin' good so far. This one takes priority of course), a standalone UF set in Melbs (30K or so done. I heart the characters so much. I am just having a leeeeetle trouble seeing the climax. I know what should happen but not WHERE. I began this book in 2009. Time to bloody finish it, eh?), and the standalone scifi I began at the beginning of 2011 (30-ish-K done ... I can't remember exactly. That's bad right?? Whatevs. I love this book. Multi character view points. Stuff that makes me angry. Stuff that's hot. Stuff that makes me cry. It's going to rock.

I don't mind too much if neither of the standalones sell (but that is, of course, the intention), I just need to finish them. And then I will be WORKING ON COMPLICATED FANTASY WORLD IN WHICH TO SET SERIES AS WELL AS STANDALONES THAT MIGHT BE CAREER DEFINING. "Oh, you know Rhiannon Hart, right?" "She's the one who wrote the blah-blah books, yeah?" "YEAH. Don't they rock?" Which is like, uber exciting. And is one of the things I'm looking forward to REALLY starting in 2013. Over the next year it will be PERCOLATING.

Dressing properly this winter
Winter always sneaks the hell up on me and I'm not ready for it and I find myself wearing the same stupid acrylic jumpers that I've been wearing since uni. And I can't be arsed shopping because it's so cold and dark and there are couches and books at home. BUT THIS YEAR I WILL SHOP IN AUTUMN. THERE. I SAID IT. MAKE IT SO.

Learning to shoot a bow and arrow, riding a horse again
One of the two. Possibly both. They're expensive activities and I do need to save money for travelling. I have never shot stuff with a bow and arrow (unless you count the homemade bows of hibiscus and rubber bands my brother and I made as kids...which were AWESOME) and I haven't been on a horse since high school. I took lessons. I wasn't too bad and it was fun.

Being a bitch-arse public speaker
Currently I am a fraidy public speaker. I am determined to do all my speaking ad-lib, though, as I really dislike hearing the stilted voice of someone who's reading from notes. So far so good. (i.e. not dead yet.)

Visiting south east Asia for the first time as a sentient adult
HOLIDAY! I have book three weeks in Thailand and Cambodia from the end of May. It's cheap and cheerful and I'm just going to relax. I'm meeting up with one friend in Thailand and we're going to the islands and generally just chilling. Then I'm visiting an ex-pat friend in Phnom Penh who's just had a wee babby. (I went to Borneo when I was 2 or so, but don't remember much except I was sick. Some lung thing I got in Australia.

Getting my British Passport
OH YES THIS IS THE YEAR. <-------Been saying since I was 18. Shuddup.

Op-shopping
This ties in with not spending a lot of money and dressing properly for winter. It will cut into my Saturday morning writing time, but it needs to be done. Also: will help me in cultivating the slightly mad frizzy-headed author look that will undoubtedly catch up to me by the time I'm 37.

My first short story published in an anthology
I'll have title and release dates for this project shortly! It's a ghost novel written in 12 short interconnected stories by four Melbourne writers. Worldwide release. We're about to start editing and I'm so excited!

So this is sort of a New Year's Resolution list but not really. Resolutions are hard and painful. It's a list of things I'm going to ENJOY. YEAH! Bring on 2012!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recent events, in pictures

December-January has been filled with awesomesauce. Here's what I been up to in pictures, and very few words. Brain is nawt go work since New Years...





That's Tom Stoppard. I forgot to take a photo of Gaiman. But her was there. And fabulous.

Hot Guy Reading Book. Of course.



Housemate and future sister-in-law's 33rd birthday. I was bartender. First they loved me, then they hated me.


Being fabulous at said bash with friend







Skirt I made for Neil Gaiman/Amanda Palmer NYE Trash Masquerade bash. IT WAS FAB.



Beaching yesterday at Half Moon Bay

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Here's to a 2012 that's even more fantastic and productive than 2011.