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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My big sister's back in the country!

Looooong day yesterday, driving the hour and a quarter to my parents place, then the two hour trip to the air port, then an hour and a half wait for her plane to actually arrive and then YAY!! My big sis is back in Australia!!! Then my dad taking the video camera from my sister's luggage and making Kate and I reinact our big YAY! My sister's back in Australia! moment for the whole international arrivals lounge to enjoy. We heard much laughter and a couple "Oh my god, that is so embarrassing"s. They were feeling sorry for us, not mocking us. It was THAT tone of voice.
Then an airport dinner and the two hour trip back to my parents place. Phew!

And today I wrote and swore at Photoshop as I try and try and fail and fail at making a wow-worthy banner for my forthcoming web site. I am unperterbed. Actually think that's the wrong word. I am annoyed, but proceeding anyway.

Kore, wonderful chickee I met through the NaNo forums and I are writing a YA book together consisting solely of emails from our characters. Much fun. I love my girl, MJ. Received Kore's latest post and sent one of my own. Wrote a fan fiction story - my first one ever! And entered it into a Melbourne competition. Actually think it went really well and I have a sneaking suspicion Lili Wilkinson is the judge, or organiser or whatever. (She's my aussie idol, 28 with a couple of books out. I want to be her soon.). It was fan fic for Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and I have to say, I made a pretty convincing Louise Rennison. Those books are so funny. She does a wonderful job.

That brought me to time to leave and head back the hour and a quarter drive - first time back on the road that tried to kill me, I wasn't thrilled - to work which is where I am now. But this whole blogging at work thing is our little secret. Then home to start swearing at photoshop again, do a practice exam and then bed.

Tomorrow I have a study group coming for the exam on Monday (eep!) Have decided considering in NaNo (in 2 days!) I'll be writing book 1 and book 2 of MJs story simultaneously (one with Kore, the other by myself) I REALLY need to plan out each one. So must do that tomorrow night. Trying to spend as much time as I can with my house mates too, because they'll be gone by the end of next week as well. Won't see them (very often) for four months!

What are my priorities? That pesky exam thing?
Outlining my books so my head doesn't explode?
My housemates?
Probably should do some washing too, huh.
So as I said before. Eep.

Oh, and the book launch in Melbs (2 hours away) is on Friday night, so another long drive day.

Plus side: I finally got my assignments back for Education - a Distinction and a HIGH Distinction. Can ya say "Hell Yeah"? I think you can, I think you caaaan!


Monday, October 27, 2008 is TAKEN?

This is me.

Okay so not in the most literal sense of the word 'me', but still, you see that look of shock on the Bush man's face? Uh huh. Now we're talking.
I'm making my official authoress web site. (Official, me - He he!) So you'd think I might go for my name. Sure. Understandable. Logical even. How about y'all go check out right now.

Been there? Done it? Seen what I saw? Okay so you'll agree with me when I say "What the hell?!?" My website is a travesty of advertising! What on God's green earth would they choose MY name for? Am I being searched for all ready?
Yes, I am being a bit dramatic, as is NOT taken. But still. Hmph.

On a brighter note, after a couple of rejections from agents (which alas, comes with the writerly territory) including Meg Cabot's american agent (my friends know me as the chick who wants to be the next Meg Cabot, so that one particularly bummed me out) I have a nibble. Indeed, an agent is nibbling at my manuscript. I'm sure she has more edible foodstuffs around, but nope - she wants to try my book. So we'll see. :) I'm psyched. Trying not to get my hopes up. Horrendously competitive field and all.
But it's going to happen for me one day. I'm confident in that.

By writing I get fit

I really must be in the zone, I'm updating this thing all the time. It's official - my writing brain is switched on!

I'm doing lots of thinking about the plot for my novel, and I find that walking around the soccer pitch which is about 5 minutes away is such great inspiration.
Yes it sounds dull, but I'm not finished. When I was writing my first book mid this year, I'd go for walks there and just ponder, stare into space (that's what's so good about the oval - nothing to fall over unless you count your own feet. Actually I did fall over once, but that's not unusual for me lately. I'm not counting that time, anyway) and think, let the characters tell me what's going to happen, how to get past problem scenes. After awhile it started to be as soon as I hit the pitch the ideas started coming.

Well yesterday I went for my walkies (clearly I have dogs), cos I'm a bit tense about the book I'm going to write for NaNo. I've probably already posted this, but it's more serious than I'm used to, and hell the main character is alone for a good solid chunk at the start and hmm...I'm not that in love with it.
But yesterday on my walk some little tidbits came to me about how to make it funnier. A bit lighter. Still with some darker stuff going on, but more me. Woohoo! This was after I relegated the back quarter of the pitch to the birds that were swooping at me and telling me to bugger off in no uncertain terms. When I wasn't worried about a gaping head injury, then my characters started talking to me.

Need need need to do my character profiles. Helps to have a WORKING printer...
4 days til NaNo! Not to mention good ol' Halloween. Jeez, reckon it might get a bit rowdy here, considering I live on a Uni campus and all. Maybe not cos a lot of people will probably have gone home.
Eep. Must get dressed and go to work now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wait...younD adult extraordinaire?

I JUST noticed right then that I am not a young adult writer extraordinaire, but in fact, a youngD adult writer extraordinaire. To me, that's a whole different kettle of fish. What the hell's a YounD? New word. Needs a definition.

I've been scowering the NaNoWriMo forums, finding some fantabulous sounding people that are plotting, and have already written, fntabulous sounding books. I want to scoop them all up and be friends with everyone and collaborate with some so that we can be fantabulous together.

I loved what Rachel Cohn said about writing with David Levithan, how they wrote a chapter and sent it to the other, and then they'd write a chapter and send it back and it continued like that. It was free, and unstructured, and it worked. Twice! So I'm hoping to find me the perfect YA writer to collaborate with. But in letter and Blog form. I reckon I should give it a bit of leeway and we can have some real honest to god scenes in there as well.
Two characters who live in different places, with different social circles, but are friends. These are their stories. Wow, I could almost hear the whole NYPD Blue music then. But maybe that's just me.

So it's official, people, I am totally NaNo-ing it. Yes, my last exam is on the 3rd of Nov, and I should probably do some study for that. And yes, I have to pack up and move house, and yes, I have to get my old job back and start working pretty much full time again, but bloody oath I'm gonna NaNo like it's nobody's business! If I don't hit 50,000w I'm not worried. If my book is complete at 45,000w then woohoo! I finished the book! Whatever happens, I want to finish the book.
Good luck to me!

On Friday night I have the Book Launch of Offset Literary Journal which I'm being published in. That's right, watch me swagger. Hope it goes well. And hope my sister doesn't freak when she reads the story which is basically about what a little terror she was as a kid. Hehe. Welcome back to Australia, babe!


Sairz (who is no longer a YounD Adult writer extraordinaire.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

The beginning of the end

Well the semester has ended, one exam down, one to go and I have lost two of my five housemates already. That part sucks. I'm glad the exam is over though! And who says cramming doesn't work. It does. It really does. Well, luckily for me it did THIS time. I'm not recommending it for others who are studying, let's just make that clear!
I'm getting all back into writing mode again which is exciting, and ideas are brewing for my next book. I decided to put off The Himbo's, as I need to do a bit of work and research into writing from the male psyche. Guys just don't seem to be as complicated as girls. And they think about ...stuff. All the time. You know what I'm talking about. Don't think I could write that book convincingly just yet, so it's on the back burner.

In the meantime, I'm back to an idea I had earlier this year, which has the working title of "Taking the looong way home". The idea has changed a bit since its original inception which might be why I'm tackling it again.

Unfortunately I have that too-many-ideas syndrome. I've got a half dozen older reader chapter books I want to write as well but can't make myself pin one down and just write. Actually, no. That's a lie. I'm in writing mode and tomorrow, my friends, tomorrow I am going to finish - yes, FINISH "There's a Dinosaur Drinking my swimming pool". Don't know exactly what stopped me, but I'm gonna break through that barrier and do it! One thing at a time Sairz, one thing at a time...

I've finished polishing my YA chick lit novel, Life was cool until you got popular and have been sending agents some queries. I read a blog written by one of the agents I queried, and she had some pretty interesting, and disheartening stats at the top of each entry. It went along the lines of:

Queries read this week: 237.
Partial/Full manuscripts requested: 1.

There were always over 150 queries read in the week, and only ever one manuscript did she want to read. That doesn't mean she was going to represent them, she was just going to check it out, see if it was any good.
This is going to be a long process, but I'm perservering. This writing thing is going to happen for me. You're not a real writer until your walls are covered with rejection letters. Or so they say.

Ooh! I'm in the process of starting up a web site for Sarah Billington : Author. As well as publishing previously published short stories on the site, and of course, linking it to this blog, I plan to write a "column" if you will, called Orientating Olivia, about a chick handling her first year at Uni, away from parents and being a bit grown up person.

Okay, my presence is required elsewhere now. That's all I had to say anyway.



The kindness of strangers and other stuff

People surprise me almost every day.
Like strangers. They don't know you. They have no reason to care. Why should they stop when at dusk, one finds their car, after having skidded out of control (it's a dirt road, and there was a build up of sand) into an embankment, the car's face in the dirt and bum in the air. Why should they stop and help?
Well they did. While I was on the phone with RACV trying to get across that I was surrounded by bush on all sides and really it was a couple of kilometres walk to the nearest cross street, 3 cars slowed to see if I needed help and after I got off the phone with the RACV one car stopped and decided it was worth a shot them trying to help me get out of the ditch. What troopers. All of them! And they DID get me out of the ditch. As soon as it was done they patted themselves on the back for their good deed done for the day and continued on their merry way. I love that amidst the crime and crap, there are still good people who do the right thing because it's the right thing.

There was a puppy hanging around Uni the other night, so I called her owner and took her home. I guess I'm a good person too. :) Hell, honestly it's the only thing I would have done. I would have taken care of her until she was safe and home again, regardless.

I've experienced the kindness of strangers a lot actually, which might be why I never really see the bad in people until it's pointed out to me by others. I'm not the most trusting person in the world, and I do have a touch of gullibility about me (okay, they are sort of contradictions, aren't they? Oh well. Sue me for thinking people don't lie to my face! My housemates take advantage of that. Revenge would be sweet if I ever did that sort of stuff).

Anyhoo, I had a car accident a couple of years ago, just me and my dog Tessa - my best friend in the whole wide world (and she's still my best friend, so foresee a happy ending, guys) and she was asleep beside me and when I hit the erm...milk tanker truck...she was thrown into the dashboard. Thinking along the lines of "What the f did she hit me like that for?!" as soon as the doors were open she shot out and ran down the country highway into on coming holiday traffic. This was a couple of days before New Years.
Well we put posters out in the area and went from one farm to the next, and before we got to the second one the bush telegraph was well underway. They'd called ahead and soon everyone was on the look out for my Blue Heeler. A man who saw the sign in the pub called to see how I was, had we found her etc. He sympathised because he had some Heelers and knew just how special those dogs are.
Finally she was found (hiding under the house on a farm we'd been to that day) and she came home waggily tailed, smelling like cow poo having had a fantastic adventure (after the initial shock of it all). But yeah, the police from the accident scene were checking in, having a bit of a scout for her and the whole community were pleased for us, that we were reunited again. Kindness of strangers. They really went above and beyond. The community of Bass, Victoria - I salute you, and will never forget you.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's been awhile

It's been awhile since I updated this. Didn't realise it had been a whole month. And I haven't read back over what I'd last said. What did I tell you about. Did I mention how well the Melbourne Writers Festival went, and how I've been putting some of what I learnt into practice?
Wait. Yeah, that was aWHILE ago now. Jeez the days are zooming past.
Well, writing wise I've sort of paused at the moment. I just finished doing an edit of my novel - and it's still good, after putting it away for 2.5 months - there's just a couple of scenes I need to add in and then it's good to go!
I wrote a picture book called "Splonk the Mischievous Martian" which I've sent out but mostly I've been going to Uni, going to work (oh, I got a new job!) and hanging out with my fantabulous house mates. It's kinda sad that it's all coming to an end soon. The end of next week brings the end of our house being full. I was going to say sixtet but I'm not quite positive that's a word. Sextet? Is that it? Slowly slowly everyone's finishing and pissing off back home, wherever they are. One housemate is finishing this year, so I won't likely be seeing him again much, or even...gulp...ever! It feels weird. A bunch of my friends are graduating and it's going to be so strange not having them around.

Me, I'll be heading back to the parentals as I don't actually have a place of my own at the moment, aside from here at Uni. But I'm wanting to go back to my old job as summer staff, which is a bit of a distance from here, but totally do-able at Mum and Dad's. Plus my dog's there. It's not all bad. I love my parents, but at 24 I don't really WANT to be living with them again, cos I will always be their child. "It's midnight - don't you think you should be going to sleep?" and of course they must know where I'm going when I leave the house. It's nice to feel cared for, but at the same time...Anyhoo.

That's about all the news I have at the moment. Exams in 2 weeks! Eep!