Before there was Twilight

Book sales always turn up treats! If it’s not an actual book it is the placement of certain books in certain sections (our house mate made a dig he’d found the New Testament in non-fiction when he as sure it was meant to be on the fiction table – perhaps next to L Ron Hubbards works!) Any sort of collection of second hand books is always a lot of fun for writers and readers alike.

This weekend was the Rotary Club of Wishart’s six monthly book sale. A massively scaled down version of the Lifeline Bookfest (schedule to go off next weekend) it is still fun to go and browse among the trestle tables of books.  The Rotary gatherings have at the heart of them, decommissioned books from both the State Library and the Brisbane City Council Libraries. This has the bonus of them usually being covered in contact (plastic) and thus in good nick.

This trip’s treat was a book published in 1994.

Before there was Buffy and Angel, before there was Edward and Bella or the plethora of other vampire/human couples/lovers there was

how to get a date with a vampireI kid you not!  Sadly my hastily taken photograph has cut the author’s name off – a boon for her because I’m certain this book would fall into a hall of shame in publishing! The corner sales piece says something along the likes of a vampire astrology of compatibility based on blood type.  Surely a reason to rush out and make certain you know your blood group and rh status.

And what’s with the brief case? Was a vampire boyfriend the must have accessory of the upwardly mobile woman in 1994 – obviously why I completely missed the boat. There were plenty of leaches of their own variety around that time just none with pointy teeth or satin lined capes.

What funny, obscure or downright embarrassing books have you found at a second hand book sale? What do you call a book which the library no longer wants?

Dirk Hartog

Last Friday I was visited by a Detective from a sci-fi realm.  The sort of dude I imagine leaping across the creative void from his world into mine.  And he came bearing the most inappropriate of names – Dirk Hartog. This was the character I mentioned earlier on in the week as someone I would prefer to stay away from my son.  A mother’s intuition until Hartog proves otherwise.

Why a hard arsed Detective would want the name of a 17th Century Dutch Explorer is anyone’s guess.   A little like my character Marvin Gaye – a straight laced reprodutive scientist – selling himself out to corporate greed “for the good of science.”

I used to joke in my twenties I was an arsehole magnet … maybe my skills are being used in realms I never imagined.

Who am I to question?

You can read the fledgling episodes of the Dirk Hartog series, Hartog and Derby at Writing With Passionate Abandon.

Image from University of Minnesota’s International Student Ambassador’s blog.

Time After Time

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me, time after time

– Cyndi Lauper –

Today I took the first two parts of my Second Chance story to my writing group.  Originally published as The Stamford and Lea as responses to Fiction Friday prompts, they are actually smaller parts of a much large story -perhaps novella length.  I hadn’t thought of the story in the thriller/suspense genre because the underlying story perhaps belongs somewhere nearer to magical realism or urban fantasy – not really sure.  So I got thumbs up about my ability to build suspense and mystery.  Thumbs down however for withholding too much information. The advice was to tell it how it was and then to cleave out the information if it is too much. Because we, as the writer, already have the story mostly formed in our head, what we think is too much is often just enough for the reader.

It was hard though to explain the story is unfolding and elements which may not make total sense in the opening scenes will be explained – teasers for further down the track. What remains however is the story needs grounding.  There were arguments between my two writing friends as to whether or not the occuption of the male character (soon to be christianed “Jude”) should be revealed at that early stage or not.  And perhaps the hints I have already dropped alluding to his profession might be instead emphasised.

As a larger story the role of Katrina needs to be downsized and it made obvious Jude is really just pining after a lost love – however dangerous it is returning to the hotel for a second rate substitute.

What is Second Chance about?  It is based on an idea shared in a woman’s circle a few years ago, where souls reincarnate into lives, family circles etc until whatever is keeping them stuck in these patterns is resolved.  In the case of Aurellia and Jude – they’ve been dancing the same dance for almost 2000 years. This time though the Universe has allowed one of them a sneak peak into what is going on and what they decide to do with that information has the potential to lead their souls to a resolution.

The idea came from a musical prompt I used to host and comes from a song of the same name by Liam Finn.

“Remember me?

Well honestly I don’t remember who you are?”

In the original story she didn’t remember who he was – it was all a bit obscure.  But since writing The Stamford it has all fallen into place – obviously why I wasn’t able to complete the story last year.  It was the first time I had no idea how to end the story and the manuscript remained unfinished and my note book filled with a list of possible conclusions – none of them ringing true with the authenticity I needed to.

Last night I dreamt of my first boyfriend and of meeting up with him again.  The dream took a bit of poetic license because I know what he does now, where he is – having been tracked down by him a few years ago after he collected a five year old email from me. Yes the Universe does work in strange ways.  But getting back to the dream … it was a good exploration of what it may be like to discover an old love again, years after the fact.  I have the emotional experience lingering on after the dream, as well as the rather odd and disturbing way it ended.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

And that was another aspect of my writing which got the thumbs up from the women in my writing group.  My ability to weave a narrative of somatic experience.

As always after writing group I’m charged with the motivation and passion to attack a story for a rewrite, which wanes within a few days as other more pressing writing assignments come up. It is a dimension of my writing I am trying to address – rather half heartedly at the moment – the second drafts, the final drafts and the prospect of submitting something for publication. My anthology of short stories stands partly finished even after I had an epiphany back in around February on how to approach it from a new direction.  And I normally have Thursday set aside specificially for critiquing, editing and rewriting. Still, it is a little like going around in circles, and just writing first drafts and nothing beyond there,  seems to be a bad habit which is harder break than I first thought … no wonder I have the theme of time after time at the very heart of his current piece project.  Now to finish it.

A Day in a Nutshell

There were so many things I wanted to write about today … the emotional fall out from watching Seven Pounds and the fact that not only did I bawl my eyes out last night, but Dave was choked up and reaching for my handfull of tissues when he watched the end today.

I wanted to write about my excitement at how Chinese Whisperings is coming together and how impressed I am with our newest writer Tina Hunter.

I wanted to write about how productive I was yesterday, getting down two hand written pages while I was at Lollyland for Fiction Friday and the badgering going on in my head from my latest character Dirk Hartog because I haven’t gone out, done my reserach and finished the story off the way he wants it.  Tough buddy – come here and wash dishes, cook dinner and help put my son to sleep and then we’ll talk about stories getting finished.  (Second thoughts I don’t think I want Dirk Hartog near my son?)

I wanted to write how as one door closes another one opens in life … and how after a six month hiatus on life, yesterday’s verdict has meant we can get back to the joy of living a free and adventurous life again. How we are in the throes of planning a holiday to the Bunya Mountains after spending time on Monday writing about The Bunya Moutains for my Write Anything weekly column.  And of 5 year old birthday parties and the intricacies of making everything happen before Dave starts his new job around the 22nd May.

I wanted to write about Ayelet Walman’s article on the Daily Mail Why it can be good to be a bad mother (which is getting so hammered or my computer is so stuffed I can’t actually create a link to it at the moment) … and the onslaught of discussion on Facebook as a consequenxe of posting the link to my profile … and all the ideas whizzing through my head after reading both the article and the discussion … the unholy trinity of Yummy Mummy, Good Mother and Super Mum. Of labels, and judgements, of children’s expectations, memories, patriachy, feminism, good, bad, ugly, love, compassion and peace.

I wanted to write about how much I am looking forward to The Chaser returning to the ABC tonight …

I wanted to write how I am slowly but surely getting the look of the template happening and the green depressing mist has been replaced with bright colourful ink splotches from a piece of Dylan’s artwork last week.  Black and white, transposed on a back drop of colour.

But some days, like today I’m just too tired.  Thankfully there’s always tomorrow.

From the Mouth of Babes: Mondegreen

It was Under Eight’s day today at Dylan’s kindy.  He came home with the remnants of face painting and the song which they had played Dancing Statutes to.

Dylan is pretty schmick with his song lyrics – knowing everything from the Cat Empire, The Violent Femmes, Liam Finn, Kate Miller-Heidke, The Gorillaz and as of today, The Village People.  As I write this, he is boisterously singing:

“Y-M-C-A … you’re a hero now … Y-M-C-A.”

Decisions Made

Cape Foulwind signposts

This time last week we were all in New Zealand bumbling along towards bed after a rather torrid day which included going to bed at 1am and rising again at 6:30am for a 8:0am flight, and flying across the Cook Strait in a tiny 15 seater JetStream in atrocious conditions (and thinking I was going to die). Being so grateful for the inhospitable looking coast which was materialising out of the boiling black sea and low hanging clouds.

Even in the dismal weather I fell in love with Westport and felt a real grounding in New Zealand. I sat at the table in the motel watching the mountains appear and disappear, playing hide and seek in the clouds and the intermittent showers.  We were shown around town, shown through one of the schools and had a beautiful dinner that night at The Yellow House even though we were all dead on our feet.  A playful ginger kitten lolled by the fire as we ate our meals and James Taylor’s Fire and Rain played on the stereo.  It felt like I had arrived.

The bright though crisp day which followed did nothing for dulling my enthusiasm for the place. We visited the seal colony at Tauranga Bay and I could see across the wide expanse of sand up to the snow capped mountains.  Out of the wind the sun was warming and the place just continued to grow on me.

I could see myself tapping away at my lap top in Dirty Mary’s with a pot of tea close at hand and the fire roaring behind my back.  I could see Dylan in the wonderful South School. Dinner that night at The Beach House was perfect, amazing local cuisine, fantastic conversation – a real connection. Then on the trip home the most surreal falling star fell in almost a direct line with us, flaring brilliantly to earth.  And I made a wish!

I felt sad getting back on the plane Thursday morning to come home.  At the airport we knew three people – the head master of one of the schools, one of the kindy teachers and Emily the owner of The Beach House. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere, being onn 18 seater plane and knowing three of the other occupants after only two days in town.

Coming back to Brisbane we realised we were probably going to be making the hardest decision of our lives to date.  There was so much offered in Westport in terms of life style and community.  Something neither Dave nor I expected.  And Dylan had loved it there – excited he would be able to go to school on his 5th birthday rather than waiting until the beginning of the 2010 school year.  But then there was Brisbane – our home here, our friends, the hassle of selling and moving. And a solid job offer with a company in South Brisbane which ticked all the boxes.

When I woke up this morning I thought tonight we would be deliberating our next course of action – but sadly I didn’t think it would be this course of action.

We got a phone call from NZ about 5pm to say Dave didn’t get the job.  He hadn’t *wowed* them (which is pretty hard to do if you’re sleep deprived and having everything thrown at you at once) – but so be it.  Part of me feels ripped up because I so easily saw us all living there – but grateful in lots of ways the decision has been taken out of our hands. Neither Dave nor I are great at making decisions and it is easier to make the best of the way things turned out in this instance than living with the consequences of a bad decision.

The next step for me is to take all the things that I felt about NZ and make them real here.  Firstly to get Dylan into a small community minded school where he will be safe and allowed to flourish at his own pace.  Secondly to reinvigorate our social life.  And thirdly to make the most of every day we have.

I thought earlier on tonight, as I was cleaning up some things in the bathroom … I didn’t expect life to change like it has today … but how is it that at the end of every day we don’t expect things to have changed – shifted?  Isn’t that what living is really all about?  Growing, moving forwards … even if it is just inching forward.  I should be able to look back at the end of the day, every night, and say things have changed. Sometimes they will be for the better, and sometimes like tonight they will feel for the worse.

I will remember next time to be more specific with my wishes! Now onto the next stage …

Blog Redux

For months I’ve been trying to find the right balance, the right blog and well it has fallen short.  My Blogger account was cleaved in half with the writing staying at Writing With Passionate Abandon and the miscellaneous life stuff ending up at Shine A Little Light but it just hasn’t worked.

Ironically the output at Writing With Passionate Abandon has gone up but it’s been devoid of the human experience.  So welcome to the human experience behind writing.

I could fuss budget for weeks over the fact I can’t get the template correct, my new header image wont load up properly, but I am going to forgo all that and just write here! As Mercury Retrograde peters out I will get all the technical stuff working the way I want it to.  Until then, I’ll just write.

I have been giving the Twilight soundtrack an absolute hammering.  Dave just looks at me and doesn’t know what to say, other than “I don’t understand.” And he doesn’t understand because I run down the books, the writing, the author but seem to be held in the thrall of the story.  My defence is the Twilight series is proof a story can triumph over the bad writing.

What I have been impressed with on the soundtrack (and I have been merrily tapping away for the last week to the tunes) are the throw backs?  Is it just me or does Full Moon by The Ghosts and Iron and Wine’s (American) Flightless Bird sound like the Mamas and the Pappas.  Or am I just showing my age by even knowing who the Mamas and the Pappas are and what their music might sound like now if it were being made? Or a derivative?

The Gemini moon which renewed last night around 10:00pm has created this wonderful forward propulsion energy.  Today I have written my breastfeeding articles – for last week and this week, hacked through a whole heap of Chinese Whisperings admin back log, finally got around to reading all the Fiction Friday stories from last week and felt bouyant about the way the week has started.  It is weeks like this which make the rest feel like utter shit!

My new moon wishes included three blogs a week … so I guess if I am truly open to the wishes of I cast  last night … I shall see you back here soon.

:o) Jodi xxxx

Redux image from The City of Beaufort