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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The day before the day before the adventure begins!

Okay. Can tidy the room now. With clothes, paper and stationary spread all over the entire study which I have been using as a bed room for the past 5 weeks (Bed room. Really it was a couch room. I been sleeping on the couch) I can now tidy it all away, stuff it into drawers and cupboards. Why you ask? Why all of a sudden NOW can I tidy this room? Because I'm all packed and good to go!

The time is nigh. The adventure is soonish.

First stop is San Francisco. I hear it's 15 degrees there. In Summer. Which is what it was today in my part of Australia. In winter. Thinking I may be needing some thicker coats than anticipated. I'm really looking forward to San Fran for a more mundane reason than all the amazing stuff we're going to do there. I'm looking forward to sleeping in a real bed again. Ah.

Then comes LA with the home of Mickey Mouse and the Hollywood sign poster at Universal Studios, celebrity sightings and gang wars. And the SCBWI conference!

Then off to Vegas, not so much to gamble but very much to visit Elvis in his wedding chapel. I'm not getting married. But I am going to snigger and giggle behind my hands as someone else gets married. By Elvis. In his Chapel. Awesome.

Then to Naw'lens (New Orleans) for some jazz, swamps, crocodiles with a touch of voodoo on the side before hopping a plane to Miami. With or without Key West. That remains undecided, considering it's the rainy season and the weather just might make the ridiculously long and expensive bus ride not quite worth it.

Then after all THAT comes Noo Yawk (New York) with that big green lady and that super tall building, a big park and Tyra! Or Jimmy Fallon. But I think it's Tyra! Though I'd prefer Jimmy Fallon. We'll wear our business casual and sit in the audience, if we get our tickets.

And that's when I say goodbye to Eleanor and venture off ON MY OWN...

Off to London. To collapse in a heap for a couple of days and recover from America. Where I will NOT have been shot (looking at YOU, Dean). Then to do touristy Londony things from my base at a backpackers somewhere in the city. Somewhere. Probably will NOT be going to Sheffield Bush...I don't think I got that right...the aussie section is what I'm talking about. Cos why be in Britain and hang out with a bunch of bogans? :) I coulda done that at home.

Anyhoo then off to ITALY for my 3 day tour, plus I'll do a day or so in Rome and I really wanna head over to Venice as well. I hear lots of people speak English in Italy. Which I hope is not a lie. Cos if it is a lie, then I am how you say...oh. Right. SCREWED.

Then back to England and probably about time to head to Leeds and my new home for the next 5 months. Let the learning begin!

I think/hope I have the money to go on a tour in Egypt at the end of my trip. And I have 2 nights in Hong Kong planned. And I'm pretty positive I'm doing a 3 day trip around Paris.

I mean there are heaps and heaps of other places I want to go, but I'll see how the funds treat me.

I will be sitting on my bum cheeks for a good 14-16 hours straight, including the Melbourne to Sydney flight. Aw man, that's NOT including the 2 hour trip from home to the airport. Considering I squirm at the uncomfortableness of the cinema seats in Morwell and can't even handle a 2 hour movie in them I might be in a bit of trouble with this one. But we'll see.

So excitement. No. Really. SO excitement.




Monday, July 20, 2009

A new addition to the family

On Saturday we were blessed with a new Billington. His name is Henry and he's adorable. He's a PUPPY! By Puppy I mean small dog of 2 years old. He's not a PUPPY puppy.
We've had a pretty tragic year this year, with my parent's 2 dogs both passing away within the last couple of months. My dog Tessa lives with them now, and she was getting very quiet and sad and not playing anymore. We gave her time to grieve, but for such a boisterous dog, she was slowing down and not herself.

So she has a new friend now.
We took her with us when we went to The Save A Dog Scheme in Tooronga, which is an animal shelter where they foster out animals to people's homes, so that the animals don't have to spend forever in a cage at the pound. That's how I got Tess, actually. I was going to be her foster mum but then I fell in love and adopted her. Save A Dog Scheme don't give dogs expiration dates, either. They don't put animals down after a month just because their time is up. They do some fantastic work.
Anyway, we took Tess with us so that she could meet any prospective new family member first and give us the seal of approval or say "No WAY is THAT coming into my home". It was so great to see her playing and they got along from the get go. We tested what he was like with cats and he's more afraid of them than aggressive but mostly ignored them completely. So he passed! And that's how Henry joined our family.
And Tess and Henry play ALL the time, so much so that my parents bed is an out of bounds area for Henry, because Tessa needs to get away from him SOMEHOW. So she jumps up there, panting, rests and then dives down into the fray again.
It's funny. She's a blue heeler, and he's a corgi (we think jack russel) x heeler, so he has her face but itty bitty legs so he runs underneath her tummy. She's body slammed him a couple of times in their games.
Not much is known about Henry. He was a stray so we don't know where he's been or what he's been doing for the past 2 years of his life. He's toilet trained though, and he's a smart cookie, he knew his name and was coming when called within a couple of hours of having him. So yeah, WELCOME HENRY!

I was told today that for someone leaving the country in eleven days, for six WHOLE months, I'm really not acting stressed out enough.
I have lots to do but I'm cool as a cucumber. The days have been going by so fast on me that I actually hadn't realised it was coming up so soon. But now that I realise I think I'm reaching appropriate stress levels.

Must make a To Do Before Leave list.
And must do a practice pack of my suitcase. Well, my sister's baby pink well worn suitcase that I'll be taking with me. I'm starting to think there really isn't enough room for all the stuff I want to take with me. But we'll see.
I have to say, the thing I'm MOST psyched about is the SCBWI conference in LA. I. Can. Not. Wait. It's going to be amazeful and spectaperb. Being around so many other writers, agents and editors and people who just...get it. You know? They get it!
Yay yay yay!

I'm in edit mode for TWO books now. I have my wonderful agent's notes and am doing lots of pondering and thunking for a couple of new scenes, but mostly it's a case of Americanising some of my language.
Like my students are not in year eleven. They're juniors. And HELLO - you don't walk on foot paths over there, it's a sidewalk. I better not have any singlets visable either cos Tank tops are WAY cooler.
I feel a bit sad about getting rid of the word "mate" though. Mate sort of, it has a different meaning than the word friend. Friend is blah. Mate is more...friendly. To me, anyway.

Doesn't matter, fingers crossed and touching the nearest wood, I'll be getting published in Australia too so can keep my aussie language for the aussie edition!

That's all for now.

Enjoy the beauty of today! It's pretty out, doesn' t even feel like winter, but I feel I might just get blown over if I went outside at all. Eep.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

What I'm reading and doing

Taking the blissful moment of internet usage on MY amazingly awesome (in comparison to family's shockingly awful) computer, whilst at a friend's place with wireless internet, to do another blog entry.Wow. That was one of the most roundabout sentences ever, huh? If you kept up, good work! Cos I'm sure it took some squinty eyed head scratching and rereading.

Yes. Carrying on.

As I've been in a slight holiday mode I've been reading
up a storm. Well okay so I've read 2 books from cover to cover but have been scrounging books and getting excited at the PROSPECT of reading several others.

I read:

Which is a great great book. It sorta makes you a bit worried cos really, it's a book for teenagers about a futuristic world in which every district
(essentially states...sort of) has to choose a boy and a girl out of a lottery, to play in the biggest reality show of all time - a battle to death until there's on
ly one teen left standing.
I would have thought the censors would have had a field day with this one, but to my knowledge they haven't. Let's face it, it happens on the big screen, why not in fiction? I guess fiction, since you're reading it in your head, and it's a solitary pursuit, it
's more personal, you know? Plus the whole first person narrative thing definitely makes it more personal.
But it's a great book. Looking forward to the sequel in September, and I've heard some buzz that there's going to be a movie coming too!

Ooh, speaking of awesome books being turned into movies, my all time hero author John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series is being turned into a movie! If I've I have this right, Tomorrow When the War Began will be a movie and
the rest of the books are being turned into a TV series whi
ch is uber exciting.
I always wanted to be the one to write that movie, or tv show, but never did. But I'm glad it's happening. REALLY looking forward to it.

Also looking forward to HBO's Band of Brothers - The Pacific, the original was so fantastic, this one should be as well.

Right, books I was reading. I also just finished:

Which I really enjoyed. I wasn't that into the last one, Plu
m Spooky and it made me sad cos I thought, I've been reading these books since 1998, I didn't enjoy it, does that I over it? Do I just not care anymore? But no. Not the case. It was good fun. Lula is a star. :)

I just bought today:

Which I'm looking forward to getting stuck into when I finish writing this blog tonight. Curling up in bed with a good book. Sigh. I love the Cabster and I really do aspire to have her career one day. Okay so not HER career cos I'm pretty sure she still wants it, but one of my own just like it. Ya dig?

When it comes to my own writing, I'm knee deep in note cards at the mo.

And what I mean by that is I am writing down every scene of MJs story, what is already in the book and what I reckon SHOULD be in the book, onto note cards. I'm getting a little carried away with the details on each card but that's a minor note. I've never tried this technique when it comes to editing before, and by jove I think I like it. (By jove? That's the saying, right? Or am I looking like a tool right now?)
Tomorrow when I get home I'm going to stick 'em all up on my wardrobe doors and scowl at them and move some around and scowl some more until the book looks right. Then I'll move words, delete words and add NEW words to the book in the computer. And hey presto! At least that's the theory.

I should soon be receiving edit notes from MY AGENT on my other book. As soon as I sign the contract. Which is going to be very soon.

I booked my trip to Italy yesterday. Squee!! And I'm pretty much decided on Scotland and Ireland. It's all big and exciting and real. I'm definitely going to need to work a bit while away though. Back to video shops it is for me!

In the morning I'm picking up our friends' doggie, Mahli (is that how you spell it?) because she's getting a bit lonely at her home with all the kids flown the coop and mum and dad at work all day, and my doggie Tessa is getting lonely for some doggie company since both CB AND Tinka died within the last couple of months, so we're going to dog sit for awhile. Yay!

That's all for now. Reading time! Sleeping time might actually merge into reading time...


Monday, July 6, 2009

Ceeeeel-a-brate good times, COME ON!

Well I am back at my parentals house for the next 3 weeks, sleeping on the couch, surrounded by what looks to be a wardrobe explosion which in actual fact is the stuff accumulated of too many people living in too small a house.
But I'm dealing with that. And if you're a FaceBook bud of mine, or Twitter follower, you will probably have already seen me write that my computer isn't hooking up to the wireless here for some reason, and SOMEHOW my sister's computer got a virus and keeps opening up porn websites, so now I am using my parent's computer for all my internet needs. And it is the slowest of slow crap slow computers ever. So there's less Sarah Billington wafting through the intertubes of late. Though I AM trying.
Okay so looking at the above paragraph, you may very well be scratching your heads and pondering this blog post's title. It really hasn't been very celebration worthy.
But the next bit is. Wanna know what's going on? You do, don't you. Come on. You do. Just admit it.
WELL! What's going on is that I have an agent now! WOOOOOHOOOOO!
Two agents had my full, and though the other agent still hasn't gotten to finishing reading it, ONE Agent has, and she's awesome. Over the past couple of months, she's kept me posted, apologised that it's been taking awhile and we were discussing a couple of points, such as the beginning of the book seems more like a MG than a YA, and what were my thoughts on that?

Anyhoo, my fantabulous AGENT, Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency in Noo Yawk has been constantly positive about my work, and though it took her awhile to make a final decision - it was because she was busy with her ACTUAL clients work. Which if I was going to be her actual client, that's the kind of agent I'd want, you know? Putting me first? So now I AM an actual client of hers, and I'm very happy with the situation. :) And by becoming Jill's client, she's opened me up to a whole bunch of other writers! So now I can introduce myself and meet and hang with her other published writers. I'm in the world, now people. I got my ticket. Next step...signing that book deal!

Okay so the real next step is doing an edit for Jill, and THEN get that book deal. Okay so FIRST I have to OFFICIALLY sign the contract and then do the edits and THEN get the book deal! Okay so there's not actually a book deal on the cards right now, but I have faith that there will be.
And in the meantime I've bitten the bullet and am tackling It's MJs Blogiverse (and you just live in it!) editing wise, and it didn't hurt either! The bullet? Biting the bullet? It didn't you get it? Never mind.

I've actually decided this is NOT the book of blog posts and chat room conversations that it was going to be, that's going to have to wait, therefor the title is history. I'm thinking it's new working title is "MJ and the boy-only disease of buttfacedom". But I don't know. It's quite long, huh? And MJ could be a guy's name so potential book picker-upperers might think it's about a boy with a disease. Yeah, I'm still working on it. Anyhoo, turns out there are lots of gems in the original book, but also lots of bits - like everything about the blog - that I need to hack away which makes me nearly cry. That's an exageration. But whole chapters are going and it just feels like lots of work. Which it will be. But it'll be fun work too cos I've been coming up with lots of brand spanking new ideas for it which should be funny and moving. We'll see, won't we?

Okay, that's it from me for now. I wanted to find a really cool graphic to put up here, as a WOOHOO, celebration! thing but I couldn't. So I leave you with this:

Buh bye for now!