Posts Tagged ‘Belinda Jeffrey’

If ever there were an occasion worth celebrating, it would have to be the birth of a book.

Novel writing is such a torturous exercise in delayed gratification.

The labour is elephantine, even for a relatively short, 53,000-word effort, like my latest offering.

Leonie and Marj

According to my diary, I started writing it on 22 March 2009.

I delivered the completed manuscript to my made-of-awesome publisher Leonie Tyle on 23 November last year.

Copy edits, courtesy of the redoubtable editing team of Rosie Fitzgibbon and Sarah Hazelton, were completed by Christmas.

First pages came through with proof readers’ comments, corrections and queries in February 2010.

By the 1st March, we had signed off on proof edits, the superb cover (by Geoff Kelly and Sandra Nobes), preliminary pages, acknowledgements, dedication and blurb.

While the book was off being printed, bound samples of the uncorrected proof were making their way into the hands of long-range media, booksellers and reviewers.

The first print run was boxed and delivered to bookstores at the end of June.

In July, exactly one year after my debut novel came out, my second novel hit the bookshelves in hundreds of bookstores around the country.

Me and Marj Kirkland at HHH launch

Last night, on 21st July, Marj Kirkland, National President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia launched it to a packed crowd at Coaldrake’s bookstore at Paddington Barracks in Brisbane.

Marj told them she had fallen in love with a twelve year old boy by the name of Henry Hoey Hobson.

She wasn’t the first – that distinction is mine – but I do hope she won’t be the last.

[A special thank you to the lovely Lynn Priestley of Zenquill for her fabulous photos of the launch.]

I’ve done some tough gigs in my time.

I’ve turned up to give a talk and found that the only other woman in the room was a topless waitress…

I’ve talked to Year Nine boys in thirty-five degree heat, last period on a Friday, after Phys Ed…

I’ve sat alone at an author signing table while every every child in the known universe lined up for Morris Gleitzman at the table next to me.

So, when I land a gig like the Gold Coast Literati, I feel honour-bound to publicly thank the high heavens (Gold Coast Libraries and organiser Maryanne Hyde, in particular) for such a wonderful event.

Literati was the bomb. Great food, convivial company, motivated and enthusiastic writers, illustrators, and audiences.

Highlights for me included:

Rosie Fitzgibbon, me and Katherine Howell at Gold Coast Literati

catching up with John Danalis, Katherine Howell, Karen Brooks and Belinda Jeffrey

meeting Rosie Fitzgibbon (who edited both Dust and Henry Hoey Hobson), and sitting in on her sister, Marion Halligan’s session with Sonia Orchard

meeting the gorgeous Alice Pung (who I would love to see in action; unfortunately her session with John Danalis coincided with mine and Belinda’s)…

sitting next to Garry Disher and Michael Robotham while the wickedly funny Shane Maloney discussed making his Murray Whelan books into movies: ‘I thought I’d just toss books over my shoulder and they’d run along behind me picking them up.’

Literati – what a pleasure, from start to finish. Thank you organisers, authors and audiences – Bravo! 🙂

One of the fringe benefits of being a published author is that one occasionally gets an invite out.

I’ve dusted off my frock for the Gold Coast Literati on 28 and 29 May, and am starting to salivate over the smorgasbord of authorial delights on offer.

First up is the Friday night literary feast – ”a unique chance for an intimate conversation with the Literati –  some of Australia’s most talented and successful authors.’  A three course meal, hot and cold running authors at each table, and Sirromet wines – what’s not to love?

The next day is jam-packed with free author encounters at  the Robina Community Centre. I’ll be there with Belinda Jeffrey talking about our paths to publication in Getting started and breaking through.

The day features a star-studded program that includes international, award-winning, best-selling and critically acclaimed authors including Michael Robotham, Garry Disher, Steven Amsterdam, Marion Halligan, Karen Brooks, John Danalis, Alice Pung, Shane Maloney, Richard Newsome, Matthew Condon, Katherine Howell – I could go on, but there are so many more, you might be better off clicking here for the full program.

Bouquets to Gold Coast Libraries for running the event. Click here for book coasters, a series of light-hearted interviews with many of the featured writers.

“Thank you, Somerset Celebration of Literature, for four of the most joyous days of my writing life.” John Danalis, author of Riding the Black Cockatoo

“Missing you all. Sob.” Belinda Jeffrey, author of Brown Skin Blue

“Fabulous four days…Why can’t life be like that all the time??” Kate Constable, author of the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy

“Now that the music has stopped it seems a little embarrassing.” Gus Gordon, author and illustrator of 67 children’s books and newly crowned Dancing King of Somerset

“Sometimes the planets just align, don’t they. Nothing but magic…Couldn’t have hoped for a more meaningful, inspiring and wonderful four days.” Dave Hackett, author of ‘Unavoidable Family Outing’ series, and proud winner of the kids dinner performances.

“My little car kept forgetting to change gears in the hope that we might be able to go back for just a little longer.” Nette Hilton, author of Pyro Watson and the Hidden Treasure

“I touched Markus Zusak.” Chris Bongers, author of Dust

“Oh, it’s even better than I’d hoped.” Anthony Eaton, author of Daywards, the latest in his Darklands trilogy

“Best Somerset Festival ever. Thanks to all the organisers and the other presenters for a fantastic time.” James Roy, author of Anonymity Jones

According to American humourist Gene Fowler, writing is easy: you just have to stare at a blank page until drops of blood form on your forehead.

[Note to the long-dead Mr Fowler: my forehead has been geysering in a Monty Pythonesque fashion onto my computer screen for days now, but it isn’t getting any easier.]

I tried to blame my two-day-old headache on the decaffeinated beans that I found in my grinder. But then the discovery of Il Perfetto Espresso in a dusty recess of the larder put paid to that theory. After two cups, the head still hurt. And I think I know why.

The word count on the work-in-progress ground to a halt just shy of the 44,000 word count, while I prowled, growled and pawed at my keyboard. Not writing, but paying bills, finishing quarterly accounts and filling in the BAS that’s due Monday. When I flicked back to the WIP, nothing happened. My brain bled like stink, but the words, they just wouldn’t come.

Then Kim Wilkins popped up on facebook – Kim is writing crap, but at least she’s writing – and jealousy spiked through my veins. Wot a skite.

I’d kill to write crap. But I’m literarily constipated – blogstipated, as Belinda Jeffrey would say – and my dear departed dad’s words keep buzzing round inside my skull like blowflies: “Shit, or get off the pot.”

I know, I know. Straining doesn’t help and busting my foofer valve will just add to my woes. But I can’t walk away and do something else. Not with the WIP in crisis.

So I’ve been tinkering with the problem, hunched over my writer’s toolbox, showing my crack.  I think I’ve located the blockage. A couple of main characters that need the screws tightened, that need to be pushed harder and further, to force them to drop the mask and reveal their true natures.

Writers know that true character only comes out under pressure; the greater the pressure, the greater the revelation. If you want to find out if a character has iron in her filings, hit her hard as you can, right in the heart. Force her to act because it is her choices under pressure that will define her.

I’ve been going too easy on her, I can see that now.  I’ve let my sympathy for what’s she’s been through cloud my judgement. It’s time to hitch up the duds and wipe the blood from my brow.

It’ll take a big wrench to fix it, but that’s OK. I’ve got one in my writer’s toolbox.