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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Melancholy Middles

I am a bit glum at the moment. Which is weird cos I was totally UNglum a week ago. My book was going SUPERBLY. I was on track, loving writing it. All was right in my little writing bubble.

And then this happened.

I hit the middle. And I started doubting myself, and asking questions.
Am I writing the right thing? Am I sustaining the plot and not going off on a tangent having too much fun writing cool scenes that really don't progress the plot? At least not in the right direction.

The middle is HARD. The start is great, I can picture it easily, know exactly what's going on and how to set up my story. The end is there! I know how my character grows and what she's going to do. But how she gets there?

Like I said. The middle is hard. The middle is giving me the finger. Which finger, you ask?


Fingers clearly know how to do middles. Fingers make middles really strong. Middle fingers have something to say and say it they will.

I'm thinking a lot about book structure at this point, and I'm writing through the melancholy middles.

I'm talking out my plot problems with whoever will listen, and going for my mental health/plotting walks. Walking around in circles does wonders for my plotting skills. Just the act of forward motion seems to do the trick. Even if I do keep getting back to the start.

So anyway. Melancholy middles. Once I get over this hump it will be easier, smoother (and faster!) sailing again.

How do YOU handle bumps in your writing road?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I forgot to mention something.

So um, about a month ago I visited my parents and they had some mail waiting for me. I had no clue what it could be and then I opened up the several pages in the envelope and saw the letterhead for the Fellowship of Australian Writers. And then I remembered that while I was in England I had entered their Awards competition, in the Children's Literature section with a YA story about peer pressure at a party, called Life was easier when boys were stupid. That was months ago and since then I had essays and exams, a trip to Wales, SNOW!, Christmas and New Year's Eve in Scotland, a week of the West End (and other stuff) in London, a 3 flight, 30-40 hour trip home to Australia for 10 days before leaving again for New York for a week, then home again and moving into my new place in Melbourne, starting my new University course (which I'm loving) starting my new novel (which I'm also loving), dealing with a ghost and a new housemate (the ghost has gone into hiding now there's a boy in the house) basically what I'm saying is I forgot about it.

So I opened that envelope and the piece of paper said things like "congratulations" and "winner" so I said. "Oh my God." and my mum asked "what?" and I answered: "Oh my God."

Last night was the Awards night and I went along to pick up my Certificate (and prize money! WOO! I'm putting it toward a netbook. I'm soon going to be one of those writers who sits in cafes and alternates between staring at the wall and frowning at her computer.) Justine Larbalestier won an award for her book Liar, as well so I feel I was in good company.

It will be nice to be out in the world a bit more. I've been very much a home body write write writing my novel, short story for my fiction class, book proposal for my publishing class and non fiction articles for my erm... non fiction class. I'm all about the writing. I would also like to be all about the world which I know is out there somewhere, happening without me.

So last night I received my award, and this morning I opened my email to find a short story I submitted was accepted for publication in England.

Good end to an exhausted no sleep filled, burnt out week.

Attempting to refuel now. And these types of news help.

Ciao for now,


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cursive Scripts - New Literary Journal Open for Submissions!

I am a committee member of a new Literary Journal called Cursive Scripts and we are open to submissions!

General Submissions

Submission Deadline 20 April, 2010

# Works Must be Under 500-3000 words

#Open to any submissions - Fiction, Non-fiction, poetry, all genres!

# We are currently only accepting general submissions in English. If you would like to submit in a language other than English a translation must be made available. Please contact us before submission

# Non-discriminatory language is mandatory.

# Defamatory content will not be accepted

# Words considered a proprietary term or trade mark must use the symbol � or TM.

# The author must have copyright of the manuscript/s submitted.

# Works must be submitted in MS Word format. Computer facilities available. See below

# Submissions must be sent via email attachment to cursivescripts at gmail . com

Author Copyright, Payment and Privacy
# Authors will not be paid.

# Submissions will not be returned.

# All authors selected for publishing will receive a hard copy of the publication.

# The Author retains full copyright of their work.

Looking forward to reading your submissions. Good luck!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stupid fan-girl-itis.

I should totally be getting ready to head to class right now, but I have a bee in my bonnet about something and I want to share.

Published authors are people too. I must remember that. They are just people who are a bit further along the publishing path than me. They're totally normal. Many of them seem like really cool people.
In fact I think THAT is why I turn into embarrassing fan girl when I get to meet some in person, because I reckon they're cool and I'd love for them to be my writer buddy maybe.

So what do I do? I linger, I stand, I don't know what to say so I turn into creepy standing linger girl.

Actually no, usually I go along to their talk and think it's awesome and amazing and how much fun is that person and then I leave without having said hello.

Yesterday however, YA author Penni Russon came to my University and spoke about YA for 2 hours. It was awesome hearing her thoughts on the subject, her thoughts on her books, how she ended up as an author and how her books were published (as a work experience girl, she became friends with the editorial assistant and years later the editorial assistant became the commissioning editor and wanted some PENNI RUSSON thank you very much. I think this is awesome. I have more on this story later)
Yeah, so Penni came, she talked and I decided to bite the bullet and speak to her cos she's a real human being. And freaky stalky linger girl happened. Sigh.

But that's okay, cos I'm going to another event soon that she's also going to be at and just maybe I'll be able to pry freaky stalky linger girl off me and try again. Or maybe I'll just say "'sup" from across the room and leave it at that.

Okay, next part of the story, which involves editorial assistant-commissioning editor girl and someone ELSE who will be at the event I'm going to soon, Lili Wilkinson.

Two years...was it two? I think it was two. Two years ago I read a newspaper article about another aussie YA author, Lili Wilkinson. I hadn't actually heard of her at the time, but discovered she was in her mid-twenties and had a couple of books under her belt. I'm a couple of years younger than Lili, but I completely aspire to have her career. Soon.
Anyhoo, in the article it said that she had been commissioned to write a book for a new series, called Girlfriend Fiction.
WELL, I decided. Commissioned? Well maybe I could get mySELF commissioned as well.
So I emailed Allen & Unwin who were doing this collection and told them about a book I had written (okay, not entirely written yet, actually, not at ALL written - I don't reccommend doing this. That could have bitten me on the bum) that I thought would be great for Girlfriend Fiction, how should I go about submitting, if they were even accepting unsolicited stuff.

I sent it to the comments section on the website, not really expecting a response, not expecting anyone but maybe the webmaster to see it.
The ACTUAL editor (hello editorial assistant-commissioning editor gal) replied saying that they were full at the moment, but they'd love to see it at the end of the year.

WHOA. So in my mid-semester break at University, so over 6 weeks I wrote the book. I had so much fun doing it, too. And I polished it up as best I could and I sent it.
She replied with a page and a half of notes and if I'd be INTERESTED in rewriting it, she'd take another look. There were notes about stuff that happens right at the end of the book so I was pleased to see she'd definitely read the whole thing.
I was so thankful for her notes. They made so much sense to me and the whole back half of the book is COMPLETELY different - and for the better. And the climactic conclusion? WAY better than it was.

In the end, she decided it wasn't quite right for Girlfriend fiction. But that's okay. She helped me make it a better a book just by considering it. I never sent her a thank you email for that, which I regret not doing, but just assumed she's a busy woman and didn't need it.

Since then, THAT SAME BOOK got me my kick ass agent and introduction to her other clients, many of which have become awesome writer friends, and some editors are now looking forward to Sarah Billington books. I mean, wow.

I put it down to that article about Lili Wilkinson, and Girlfriend Books. It's kind of a dream now, that I'll write a book for Girlfriend fiction, because to me, that's how my career finally lifted off.

I've been to a couple of events Lili runs, and it's so stupid but because of this history that she has NO idea about, I don't go up and talk to her because stupid scary stalky linger girl will come out.

Maybe she's reading this right now? If so - see you on Sunday. If I'm brave enough. :)

MUST go to class now.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Injuries create greatness

Okay so um, "injuries create greatness" isn't exactly a rule or anything, but since I mentioned an interesting blog post earlier, I thought I should definitely tell you about a whole HEAP of really interesting blog posts that are going on over at Justine Larbalestier's blog (How to Ditch your Fairy, Liar).

She's been getting a whole bunch of writers, editors and agents to share their opinions and expertise, not only have there been a couple of "day in the life of" accounts by editors and agents in the children's publishing field, but the ever present Zombie vs Unicorn debate continues to rage between empassioned authors. Not that Justine's blog isn't usually interesting and valuable, but all of this EXTRA interesting stuff is because she is going sitting at a computer for 14 hours a day free, due to an injury sustained through mysteriously undisclosed ways. Hence in this case, an injury has created greatness. You get me?

Check it.


Sara Zarr and her writing life

The Teen Fiction Cafe blog is having a 3 week 3rd birthday bonanza!
And to kick it off Sara Zarr (Story of a girl, Sweethearts) got all reflective over the past three years that encompassed her career.

I found it a really interesting read. You might too.