Category Archives: books

Is it wrong to blame the horse?

I haven’t got as much writing done as I wanted to lately. Despite being prepared. A schedule was pinned up above my computer with an easy to understand time line for my editing, I had ample coffee, snacks, even organised the odd sleepover for my son, but then the horse arrived.

The horse is cute. A paint mare, who my neighbour suspects is pregnant – aw, even cuter. Her name is Lady Ga Ga. She is doing a champion job of mowing my lawn, and I’m filled to the brim with gratitude that I don’t have to be out there in the forty degrees heat cutting it myself.

In theory, this horse should be low maintenance. But I can’t help feel that she’d like an apple [she came inside the house on the weekend and took one herself], or to have her mane plaited. And I have to check that she has enough water, hay, love, pats.

Anyway, that’s my excuse. Not enough writing. Too much horse adoration.

But there’s always an excuse for not writing, isn’t there?

What’s yours today?

63 Comments

Filed under authors, books, editors, fiction, I should be editing right now, life, Reading, time wasters for editors, tips for writers, writers, Writing

Aspiring authors; make a pact.

I was visiting Ollin’s site, Courage to Create this morning, and remembered an important part of my journey towards publication. It happened a long time ago, took seconds, but I suspect it was a pivotal moment.

I’d joined a writing group. I think there were about ten of us; all keen and excited to be working on our manuscripts, looking for useful advice and hopefully some positive feedback and encouragement.

Slowly, the numbers dwindled.  Some left after a rejection from a publisher. Or because life can get hectic and writing can start to look like a self-indulgent hobby. For all kinds of reasons.

In the end, it was just me, and Stephen.  We were both passionate about writing, absolutely determined in our desire to improve our work and stubbornly fixed in our quest to find a publisher.  Over a glass of red wine one night we shook hands and made a pact.

To never quit. Not ever.

Not when the rejection letter came in. Not when we couldn’t see a way to write the ending or improve one of the sagging chapters in the middle.  Not when we read a brilliant book and feared we’d never be good enough to scrape the mud from this author’s boots.

We sent each other interesting articles on writing. {Thank you Ste for the McKee book} We commiserated when we got rejected. And celebrated the wins. We gave each other stern talkings-to if one of us wavered and wanted to quit.

And we did it.

The books we were originally working on when we met were put aside and we started new ones. We were working at different speeds, trying different approaches, contacting different publishers, writing different genres, but somehow, in a weird twist of fate, we somehow managed to have our novels come out in exactly the same month: June this year.

So, here’s my question, writing friends; who can you make a pact with? If no one comes to mind, then perhaps it’s time to reach out and find some like-minded literary types to connect with.

Then, once you have your buddy ready….

… just hold out your hand [virtually is fine too] and shake hands, and make the same pact Stephen and I did all those years ago.

To never quit. Not ever.

I wish you all success and joy along the way.

xxx

Lisa

43 Comments

Filed under authors, book launch, books, champagne, editors, fiction, I should be editing right now, opportunity for writers, Reading, red wine, reviews, tips for writers, writers, Writing

Beautiful Vietnam

I nearly didn’t make it to Vietnam. Can you believe it? After winning the trip earlier in the year, it seemed unlikely that I’d get there. All sorts of obstacles and challenges arose to prevent me. And I didn’t even get my visa until the day I left for the airport.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle, was my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. Sure, I could blame hassles with getting all the right certificates to renew my passport. I could blame difficulties with finding suitable child care and pet care. I could blame lack of funds. But in the end, it was fear that caused me to drag my feet.

But despite being a scaredy cat, last Thursday, I got on a plane with my best friend, and was launched into the air, with my feet hanging, my heart shrinking, thrust higher and higher, until my comfort zone was a tiny speck far beneath me. There was no going back. Life was flinging me into the unknown.

On arrival, Friday evening, I started taking the  alternative to malaria tablets – gin and tonic. Lovely. Our tour guide, Cuong, affectionately known as, King Kong, was an angel and I felt really comfortable with the other people in the group.

Next morning, I couldn’t face visiting the war related stuff, so  instead of going with the rest of the tour, I decided to explore Saigon on my own.

At first, I remained on one side of the pavement; I figured I could circle the block without being forced into the chaotic swamp of motorbikes. I took photos of dogs, some pink lilies, trees, the blur of bikes, the high tops of French style buildings and banners of  Vietnamese writing.

Eventually, a man approched, his name was Tang, and he offered to give me the cyclo tour of ho Chi Mihn city for 250,000 dong. Which was about 10 dollars. I told him I preferred to walk and find a nice cafe. He very kindly helped me across the road to took me to a nearby place which sold strong, sweet coffee. I bought him a coffee too and he taught me a few Vietnamese words.

Perhaps it was the surge of joy from the caffeine, or the sudden realisation that I was free in a strange city, but suddenly, I felt brave. I decided to cross a road. I waited until a local stepped off the pavement and then I sidled up close. They didn’t seem to mind me at their shoulder, a little white shadow, closer than their coat, and I got safely to the other side with them.

Brave now, I challenged myself to go where my heart pulled me. I crossed large, busy roads and small laneways. I looked both ways. I relaxed. I walked further and further away from the hotel, until I was  blissfully lost.

Vietnam melted away my fears. Little by little, I discovered the brave woman I used to be, before I became a cautious, sensible parent. None of my fears manifested. The food was delicious. The people were so incredibly warm and friendly. The architecture was stunning. Even the coffee was good.

Each day bought new delights. My senses were treated to so many new sights and sounds and smells. The Vietnamese language is musical. The colours vivid and my photos really don’t do justice to the energetic vibe and colour of the place.

We all flew to Da Nang and visited the beautiful Marble Mountains – breathtaking temples and views. We had lunch at China beach. In Hoi An we stayed in a hotel that was so lovely I never wanted to leave. Gin and tonic by the pool? Magic.

One of the highlights of the tour was sailing on the boat in Ha Long bay.  We stayed overnight on the boat and watched a red sun descend into the still waters.

Although I didn’t see a single mozzie while I was in Veitnam, I remained diligent about taking my anti-malaria remedy of G& T. And there’s nothing like sitting on the top deck, sipping a drink and practicing my very poorly pronounced Vietnamese.

We had eight wonderful days over there and it seemed that before I could wear everything I packed, it was time to come back home again.

Thank you to Susie, my best-est ever best friend for sharing the fun.

Thank you to mum and Gunnel for looking after my angel and Tiger. Thanks dad for providing spending money. Thanks to Peter and Margaret for spoiling Holly.

A huge BIG thank you to Oxfam for the surprise prize. And a massive big bouquet of thanks to Cuong and Peregrine Tours for keeping this scaredy cat mum safe and sound and giving me the trip of a life time.

xxx Lisa

37 Comments

Filed under books, travel, Uncategorized, vietnam, writers, Writing

It’s you, you’re missing.

What I’ve noticed lately in the “top posts” section is that there are a lot of people google-ing the following:

Something’s missing but I don’t know what it is.

I even wrote a post about it not long ago, but at the time I didn’t really have any answers. It dawned on me a few days ago that the feeling creeps into your heart when you’ve abandoned yourself.

How do you abandon yourself? By taking more interest in other people’s lives/opinion/choices than your own. When you are there for everyone else and forget your own needs. When you get busy and run around chasing goals and deadlines that have no real meaning except as a distraction from being present to yourself. When you try to escape yourself by watching hours of TV (other people’s lives again) or over-eat/drink/shop etc.

So, right now, take a breath and ask yourself the question: Where am I? Notice where your focus and thoughts are.

Chances are you’ll be far away.

Come back to yourself.

It’s you, you’re missing.

[How I came to “like” my post – it was an accident really; it was simply a matter of wondering what the “like” button does.  So, although I don’t dislike this post, I’m probably not quite as enamoured of it might seem. :-)]

39 Comments

Filed under authors, blogging, books, fiction, I should be editing right now, pain, philosophy, writers, Writing

Sunshine and getting tagged.

It didn’t matter that it was raining this morning (Spring, you missed your cue}. Didn’t matter that the dishes from last night were still waiting for me on the sink, or that the dog put her muddy paw prints all over the floor.

Because inside, I’m sunshine.

And no amount of rainclouds or mud will dampen my spirits today.

Also, the lovely Leslie from Coffee, Pearls and Grace tagged me with some questions:

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

To turn water into wine. Or coal into diamonds. Basically to transform objects. Hey, I’d be a transformer, without the clunky wheels and butch engines though.

Who is your style icon?

Probably Cate Blanchett. I love her elegance and simple style of beauty.

What is your favorite quote?

I have hundreds of them. But recently: “For whatsoever from one place doth fall, Is with the tide unto an other brought: For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.” — Edmund Spenser

What is the best compliment you ever received?

I can’t really think of anything specific. But someone recently emailed me to tell me that Milk Fever was their all time favourite book. That gave me a very warm glow inside.

What playlist/CD is in your CD player/playing right now?

Maxwell – Black summers night is my current favourite.

Are you a night owl or morning person?

Night owl. Definitely. Although due to the weekly school run, I can’t stay up as late as I’d like to anymore. So I have been forced into a better balance. Left to my natural rhythm though, I’d go to bed at 3 and wake up at 11. Lovely.

Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Can’t I have one of each? No? Well, in that case, dogs. Cats don’t need me anyway.

What is the meaning behind your blog name.

It’s the title of my debut novel, Milk Fever. The condition is something cows get when birthing and calcium levels in the blood drop dangerously low. It makes an appearance in the book.
So, now  I need to nominate two other bloggers to tag.

1. shylockbooks.

2. jpcabit.

Enjoy your inner sunshine folks.

32 Comments

Filed under blogging, books, fiction, I should be editing right now, life, Reading, silly challenges, writers, Writing

Stubborn is good

Driving home from school pick-up the other day, my son asked me if it was ever a good thing to be stubborn. I suspected someone had perhaps called him that, so I hesitated to give my first answer, which was no. I said, ‘yeah sure, perhaps sometimes.’ Fortunately, he didn’t expect any examples from  me, because at the time, I couldn’t think of any.

It occurred to me three days later,  as I sat stubbornly, like a pit bull, in front of my manuscript, daring the muse to  ignore me one more time, that being  stubborn, being bloody-minded, being aaarghh-I-will-do-this was a necessary trait for a writer.

Writers need to be not only determined and persistent, they need to be stubborn too. When the rejection slip comes in.  When you can’t write the ending. When the sun is shining and calls you outside. When your friend/partner/blog feels neglected. When cleaning the bathroom suddenly seems more appealing than writing dialogue.

Be stubborn.

Write.

35 Comments

Filed under blogging, books, fiction, I should be editing right now, tips for writers, writers, Writing

The soundtrack

I had a lot of fun chatting with Robyn Hodge and Bernard Ryan from The Blurb radio  show on Tuesday.

They asked a lot of great questions, but one in particular really stayed with me and required a fair bit of thought.

If Milk Fever had a soundtrack, what would it be?

Hmmmm.

After some serious thought, this is what I’ve come up with:

For Julia

Rimsky Korsakov – Scheherazade

Visnja – Dishes and Coffee

Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake

For Tom

Cold Play – Yellow

Beatles – Hey Jude

John Mayer – Bigger Than My Body

So, folks, when you consider your work in progress/ novel/ manuscript what soundtrack does it have?

46 Comments

Filed under authors, blogging, books, fiction, I should be editing right now, music, poets, writers, Writing