Tuesday, June 22, 2010

getting excited...

This week, when I'm not writing , or getting excited about my trip to Melbourne on the weekend, (the excitement is not only because it will be cold and I'll get to wear an overcoat, but that's part of it) ...
I'm pouring over bathroom catalogues. Our extensions at Tarzali will be starting soon and we've never been involved in a new "build" before. But we've been told that all the bathroom fittings need to be decided now, so the correctly placed outlets can go into the concrete pad. So it's decision time. As we're sticking with the country cottage look, we're opting for this bath.
I've never been a great one for baths, but the red dirt of the Tablelands has a habit of clinging to one's toes, so a good long soak is a must. Plus, this bath looks so inviting, I think. I'll position a small stool close by for a drink and a book, of course!! (And yes, we'll have a shower as well. This is still the tropics, after all. :)
And we've found a lovely vanity made from silky oak with gorgeous old fashioned tiles in greens and pinks that will match the old, recycled, green and pink windows E's restoring. So fingers crossed, the builder approves. (It's 4 mm bigger than the max width he allowed us).
OK, back to work. I'm a little over halfway into this book, with a big dramatic scene looming, but I have to create a lovely, gentle scene first... At least that's the plan... :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guest blog...

Please pop over to Helene Young's blog. She's kindly iterviewed me about collaging and writing, about help from DHs and much more.

Six months later... twenty years later...

Leaving Tarzli, we drove back to Townsville on Friday and on the way passed the sugar cane I told you about at the end of last year.

Back then it was only a few inches high.
Now it looks like this.
Elliot is 6 ft 4 ins, so that gives you an idea how high it is. Then, when we got to Townville had the loveliest weekend with No I daughter, Emma, home for her twenty year school reunion.( OMG, where have those years gone? I can remember how heart broken I was when she left home at 17 to go to university.) But we had a great time this weekend. So  many wonderful, long, lovely chats.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Every so often I need to read poetry. Poets are so in love with words. They have so much to teach us. One of my favourites is Pablo Neruda who writes originally in Spanish.
I love this... Do you have favourite poems? I'd love to hear.

Pablo Neruda's To the Foot From Its Child
A child's foot doesn't know it's a foot yet
And it wants to be a butterfly or an apple
But then the rocks and pieces of glass,
the streets, the stairways
and the roads of hard earth
keep teaching the foot that it can't fly,
that it can't be a round fruit on a branch.

Then the child's foot
was defeated, it fell
in battle,
it was a prisoner,
condemned to life in a shoe.

Little by little without light
it got acquainted with the world in its own way
without knowing the other imprisoned foot
exploring life like a blind man.

Those smooth toe nails
of quartz in a bunch,
got harder, they changed into
an opaque substance, into hard horn
and the child's little petals
were crushed, lost their balance,
took the form of a reptile without eyes,
with triangular heads like a worm's.

And they had callused over,
they were covered
with tiny lava fields of death,
a hardening unasked for.

But this blind thing kept going
without surrender, without stopping
hour after hour.

One foot after another,
now as a man,
or a woman,
through the fields, the mines,
the stores, the government bureaus,
outside, inside,
this foot worked with its shoes,
it hardly had time
to be naked in love or in sleep
one foot walked, both feet walked
until the whole man stopped.

And then it went down
into the earth and didn't know anything
because there everything was dark,
it didn't know it was no longer a foot
or if they buried it so it could fly
or so it could
be an apple.
Translated by Jodey Bateman

Monday, June 14, 2010

From last Saturday...

Here we are, gathered in Havva's lovely country style kitchen, and I'm busily explaining how I use collages... Soon there were magazines being cut up and glue sticks flying.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A little bit quiet...

Have had my head down writing, and when I haven't been writing I've been talking about writing, first at the Ravenshoe writer's group and yesterday with our own NQ romance writers. Yesterday we gathered at a member's home in Mareeba and had a great time, with most of our group practising pitches to agents or editors in preparation for this year's conference in Sydney. Helene Young, who successfully pitched her book Border Watch at a conference two years ago, was on hand to give great pointers.
In the afternoon, I showed my collage PowerPoint and then everyone had a leisurely time flicking through magazines and tearing out pictures to make their own collages. I love watching people get excited when they begin to feel the potential of using visual images to prompt and please their writing muses. The combination of visual stimulus plus music on headphones (instrumental music without words) works for me every time, and yet, crazily, I don't always use it. That's a good reason to talk to others about it every now and again, because it can remind me about good habits I've let slip.
Today, however, I'm giving myself permission to spend most of the day in the garden. You've no idea how naughty it feels when my manuscript beckons, but being naughty is always fun, isn't it? And this particular naughtiness is also rewarding. Besides, I have to go back to the city at the end of the week and I know I'll regret it if I haven't done some of the "outside" things I longed to do.

Oh, and for those of you who know my guinea fowls' history, I should report that they are now incredibly independent and, like any teenagers, they take off to visit our neighbours and show no gratitude for the expense and loving hand rearing we gave them when they were babies. They don't even sleep in their beautiful pen anymore, but roost in a nearby tree -- but so cute, all in a row. Every afternoon they come down to the house hoping for grain (which they get) and they hang around and admire themselves in our French doors and then bathe in our dust. That's guinea love for you.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My brush with fame...

I'm in a book with Nora.

OK, it's in Scandanavian countries only and you need a magnifying glass to see my name, but Nicola Marsh is there too. Yay, Nic. We'll take fame (almost) any way it comes.
oh, and the book? A Wedding at Windaroo.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

An Old Farmer's Advice...

I found this in among my "Docments" this morning. I can't remember where I found it so I can't attribute it to anyone, but I love the wisdom here. I had apparently underlined the advice about the face in the mirror each morning, so I guess it really rang true for me. I also love the one about ordering other people's dogs. Which is your favourite?

* Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong. *

*Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.*

*Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.*

* A bumble bee is considerably faster than a tractor.*

* Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.*

* Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.*

* Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.*

* Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.*

* It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.*

* You cannot unsay a cruel word.*

* Every path has a few puddles.*

* When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.*

* The best sermons are lived, not preached.

* Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.*

* Don't judge folks by their relatives.*

* Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.*

* Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.*

* Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.*

* Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.*

* If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.*

* Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.*

* The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.*

* Always drink upstream from the herd.*

* Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.*

* Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.*

* If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.*

* Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.*

*Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.*

* Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.*

Thursday, June 03, 2010

How the other half sees it...

Elliot was recently interviewed for Romance Writers of Australia's HeartsTalk magazine. This is what he had to say (and yup, I still love him):
Elliot, you are more involved with romance writing than most husbands or partners, how did that come about?

First let me stress that I don’t co-write any of Barbara’s novels, the craft of romance writing is well beyond my capabilities.
However I’m quite chuffed when she refers to me as her “first reader”.
I suspect I became more involved than most husbands because of my professional career as a journalist and editor and I’ve always been fascinated by a good story. I read my first novel when I was ten (James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans by the way is not only an adventure story; it’s one of literature’s great romances).
Barbara ran story lines and pitches past me during her four and a half-year journey towards publication and it seemed natural to be involved or supportive once she was picked up.

Are there risks in being too closely involved?
Absolutely, this is dangerous ground. We are dealing with the creative thought process often under deadlines and stressful conditions.
It is so easy, even for a well-intentioned bloke like me, to silence the “Girls in the Basement” or ruin the author’s voice.
It took me a few years to realize that having two writers in the one household involved sharing a limited amount of oxygen on occasions.
That’s because we males are genetically engineered to take control, offer advice when it’s not being sought, interfere, solve problems when they don’t even exist, dominate conversations and generally act like the heroes in romance novels.

What advice can you offer to other husbands and partners?
Please guys, don’t panic if you simply want to wish your loved one well with her writing, back her 100%, but can't bring yourself to read any of the stuff. Remember we’re talking about stories crafted specially for women and not many blokes read them.
Don’t worry… she’s in safe hands with her fellow writers and RWA.
I tell anyone who will listen that my wife is in “one of the most supportive professions unknown to man”. She’s been welcomed into an amazing support group that I truly believe is unique to the sisterhood of romance writing.
It’s hard for men to grasp, but you women share trade secrets and intellectual property, go to extreme lengths to encourage others into your profession, embrace new authors who could be expected to reduce your own market share, back each other emotionally in good times and bad… and generally have fun while doing all this.

How do you think most men feel about romance writers?
Who cares? Men don’t really count in your industry as writers, editors, publishers or consumers. I’ve stopped bristling when male friends or my colleagues ask Barbara about sending away for the “formula” or wanting to know how many novels she “churned out” last year.
I suspect many feel a little intimidated, but they do respond to statistics which males normally relate with success, and they are stunned if you quote the size and status of the market, particularly in the US.
Men tend to put down or send up anything that is slightly beyond their own intellectual property or experience.
For example, early in my wife’s career I was mixing semi-formally with old colleagues and we were trying to see what intellectual resources we could muster for a community project.” Well, there’s Elliot, he’s probably the most well read bloke in our group”. I was modestly taking in this unexpected professional compliment when my friend added “Yes. He’s read everything Barbara’s ever written”.
Sometime later, at a busy pedestrian crossing, a group on the other side of the street waved and pointed excitedly. “Look, look everyone! There goes Barbara Hannay’s husband”. If you are an Alpha male I suspect this could be difficult to handle.

You’ve been involved in RWA conferences here and overseas and accompanied Barbara to London and New York.. what were some of the highlights?
I enjoy romance conferences (and believe the Australian ones have the best karma) and I find women presenters much more skilled at imparting craft than most men I’ve listened to at corporate conferences and seminars.
But I’m also the type who’s sensitive to social gaffes and I still wake up in the middle of the night sweating with overwhelming remorse at some of the things I did or said in the earlier years.
I’m amazed that Barbara didn’t divorce me on the spot during our first visit to Richmond.
She was being hosted to lunch by two very senior Mills and Boon editors when my Alpha Male in the Basement surfaced and I offered to help them “ counter the company’s low profile in the publishing industry”.( Ok I know! But it was 10 years ago and I was only trying to help). Barbara’s recollection was that I actually suggested their books would now sell better because they had shown the good sense of signing her up.
I no longer attend luncheons with editors.
Because I also had some background in marketing I also questioned the same senior editors’ choice of title for Barbara’s first book. The hero was Fletcher and the heroine’s name was Ally. I have never seen two people more suited to each other. In particular Ally was the perfect woman for Fletcher… but he was too stubborn to admit it. I suggested “Right up Fletcher’s Ally”. They took it on board but foolishly insisted on “Outback Wife and Mother.” I still like mine better.