Guest Post – “The Contract” by Melanie Moreland

The Contract 2

“The Contract” is the latest novel by Melanie Moreland and I was excited to talk to her recently about what this new story has in store for us.

Synopsis
Richard van Ryan is a tyrant by day and a playboy by night. Katherine Elliot is the PA who only tolerates him because she needs the job to achieve her goals. But Richard has goals of his own and shocks Katherine when he offers her something she never expected; a new role with a personal contract – fiancee instead of PA.
What happens when two people who loathe each other have to live together, and make the world believe they’re madly in love?

 

 Have you ever had to work for someone like Richard?

Unfortunately, yes. However, he never asked me to marry him, and he never changed. He is a complete ass still, but making someone else’s life miserable. It was so bad I had to change jobs. I tried to make sure Richard was still human enough, he could be redeemed. The man I worked for had no conscience, soul, or heart. Enough said? LOL

 

The Contract is your fourth novel and Richard is quite different from your other leading men.  Was it a challenge to write a character that you knew your readers might hate?

It was a challenge in that I didn’t want them to hate him so much that they would put the book down in disgust, but I wanted to show him as he was, and then show his growth. For a short time I was in a very bad place in my life and looked at everything in anger and detachment. After things got better, I wondered how someone who knew nothing but detachment would react to actually feeling something. Richard was born. It took a while for he and I to become friends…but eventually we did.

 

Do you have a favourite scene from the book, and if so, can you share?

My favorite scene, well one of them, is when Katy tells him off for the first time. My most favorite line in the whole book is “You want to fuck someone? Go fuck yourself VanRyan.” His reaction is one of shock, and both he and the readers see a different side to Katy. And I love the parts when Penny teases him and it makes him smile. His human side begins to emerge.

 

You have been writing for several years now.  What is the most valuable thing you have learned along the way?

That’s a hard one. Perhaps to trust my own gut instinct. It is hard when people give you their opinion, suggesting things that they see your characters saying or doing. I had actually changed a few scenes in the book, then went back and put them right. And a lesson I am still learning is trying not to compare myself with other authors and their work. We all are different, and we all have our strengths. I have to remember that more.

 

What’s next for Melanie Moreland?

A break. LOL. I have to have some surgery and I won’t have the use of my right arm for a long time. I have tried writing with voice software and it just does not work for me. So I will take a break and when ideas come use the old peck and find with the left hand to get the ideas out. I have some chapters written for the next book, an outline for one after and a long plan for a series. I hope to get to all of them!

 

Thanks for chatting Melanie, and good luck with the surgery. I know your readers will be looking forward to hearing more from you as soon as you’ve got the ‘old peck and find’ under control 🙂

“The Contract” is available now on Amazon.

Sea Glass

Sea glass plays a small, but important, role in my new story.

You know sea glass.  Those broken bits of glass you find washed up on a beach, their edges dulled and rounded, the surface scuffed and frosty from being tumbled in the waves and rubbed against the sand.  I’ve always thought sea glass was a bit mysterious.  Little shards of history that could be decades, even centuries, old, washed in from foreign lands, with a story to tell.

I went looking for sea glass a couple of Sundays ago, as research for the book.  My husband and son came too and we drove to Balmain, which is a Sydney suburb edged with a few small, pebbly harbour beaches.

Our son asked why we weren’t going to a proper beach, with cliffs and sand and waves.  I explained that the sandy beaches didn’t catch so much stuff, I needed somewhere with more rocks and pebbles.  Somewhere with places for these mysterious shards to get trapped.

“So, you want to go to a polluted beach?” he asked.
“Well, um, I suppose…in a way…”
“Where will the glass come from?”
“Oh, well it could come from anywhere!”  My imagination took over.  “It might have been swept in from the other side of the world.  And its journey could have started hundreds of years ago – a bottle dropped overboard from a ship travelling the Silk Route to China.”
“Really?”

At this point, my husband joined in.

“Basically, we’re helping Mum look for broken bits of beer bottles that have been tossed into the harbour by drunks on a night out.”

Okay, so his version was probably more accurate.  But I liked my version better.

We did find some sea glass.  And yes, most of it was beer-bottle brown.  But that’s alright.  Beer’s been around for a while, so who knows.  Maybe these had been ale bottles, dropped overboard by convicts transported to Australia on the First Fleet back in 1788.

Yes.  That would be it  🙂

Access Denied

 

I hate writer’s block.  In all it’s maddening forms.

And there are lots of forms.

Sometimes it can be a problem with a particular scene that just won’t work.  Or the frustrating, hair-pulling search for that single, perfect word.

It can be a character who keeps trying to deviate from the plot, coming up with their own dialogue or ideas.

And sometimes writer’s block looms over a whole story, like a bouncer at a nightclub door, denying access to the action going on inside, and telling you you’re wearing the wrong shoes.

I’ve been coming up against the bouncer for a while now.

It started a few months ago.  I was several chapters into my new story, with the ideas flowing and the characters growing, and then suddenly…

Nothing.

It was as though my characters all said “See ya!” and went into the nightclub without me.

I tried to follow.  There were moments when I’d get close enough to sense the excitement, see a flash of colour and movement and hear the music.  But every time I’d inch my way forward the bouncer would appear, blocking the view, and I’d have to step back behind the velvet rope again.

So while my characters partied on, I decided to ignore them.  I turned my back on the bouncer, and turned off my laptop.  I thought maybe if I took a break, things would right themselves.  But I was wrong.

Weeks went by and there wasn’t even a whisper from my characters.   And they didn’t respond to my attempts to get their attention.  I suspect they’d turned off their phones and changed their address. So I decided to re-work the story, make some big changes, give it a fresh location and a different opening, but that didn’t work either.  The first chapter read like a Year 7 English assignment.   And not a very good one.

It was ridiculous.  I mean, I already had several chapters written and I knew where things were headed, but for some reason I wasn’t privy to, the words had stopped coming.

Then I decided to abandon the story all together.  Which was a shame, because I liked the characters.  And their story, with its romance and mystery, had intrigued me.  But it obviously wasn’t going to happen and my imagination had gone dryer than the Simpson Desert, so it was time to say goodbye and let it go.

I toyed with a few other ideas that had been lurking in the back of my mind for a while, sketching out rough drafts and doing some reasearch, and then one morning recently, out of the blue, my female lead came back, and gave me a nudge.

“I have an idea,” she said shyly.

“Oh really?  After all this time?” I was all scepticism.  “This should be good.  Okay, lets hear it, then.”

“What if you keep the essence of what you’ve got, but instead of making me the new girl in town…”

I can’t tell you the rest because that’ll spoil the story.  Because now, at last, there is a story to spoil!!

And the answer wasn’t anything dramatic.  No big changes.  It was just a simple shift in focus, looking at things from a different angle, that did the trick.  But suddenly my characters are back and the words are flowing.

It’s like the nightclub has opened its doors wide and the bouncer has unclipped the velvet rope, stepped aside and ushered me in.

He’s even offered me a free cocktail!

But I’m not falling for that.  Instead I’ve grabbed my characters and run.  Away from the glittering disco ball, to a sandy beach, where we sit in deckchairs beneath palm trees, aqua water lapping at our toes, while they tell me their story and I write it down.

And there isn’t a bouncer in sight 🙂

It’s nice to be back 🙂

beachhouse chair

 

Lets make eggnog!

Christmas is coming.  The tree is up.  The gifts are all organised (almost), and I’ve started working out the menu for Christmas lunch.  And as I’ve thought about hams and puddings and prawns and salads, I’ve remembered the eggnog incident of 2008.

It was the week before Christmas.  Friends had come over for dinner and as we chatted about all things Christmasey, the talk turned to eggnog.  None of us had ever tried it,  eggnog’s not a big thing in Australia, so I had a bright idea and said,  “Lets make some now!”

I wasn’t entirely sure what went into eggnog, apart from egg and milk and brandy.  Or rum.  Tracey had more of an idea.  She said there was cream and sugar too.  It all seemed easy enough, except for the brandy and rum, which we didn’t have.  But we did have Bailey’s Irish Cream.

We thought we’d start with a small amount, just a couple of cups worth.  So I grabbed the smallest mixing bowl and we whisked our ingredients, with a healthy dash of Bailey’s, until our eggnog was light and fluffy.  Then we stood back and admired it.  Perfect.

“Are we supposed to warm it up now?”  My mind flashed back to countless American Christmas movies where people come in from the cold, shaking snow from their coats as someone hands them a glass of eggnog to warm them up.

“I think so,” said Tracey.

So we stuck it in the microwave for sixty seconds.

You know where this is going, don’t you….

When the timer dinged we opened the microwave door and I wondered if eggnog was supposed to smell like that.  We pulled out the bowl…and we stared.

The egg had started to set.

We hadn’t made eggnog.

We’d cooked a bloody mini-quiche!!

I have since learned that eggnog is served cold.  Or at most, warmed gently on the stove top.

Not baked in the microwave.

I still haven’t tasted eggnog.  But if you’re looking for something different to serve your guests this Christmas, I can give you the recipe for a mean Bailey’s Quiche 🙂

************

I’m working on a Christmas scene from Over The Edge and I’ll be posting it here on the blog in the coming days.  So if you’d like to know what Angus has under the tree for Zoe, stay tuned….  🙂

 

 

 

What a concept!

A homework machine! 

A machine that works out arithmetic problems and grammar questions perfectly, and even does social studies homework.  What happens when the teacher finds out what’s going on?

Synopsis for Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine

 

My son was looking for something new to read the other day.  All the books on his shelves had been read at least once or twice, or, in the case of a particular Wimpy Kid, seven or eight times.  So I directed him to the bottom row of our bookcase in the family room, to the corner where a couple of my childhood favourites sit, dusty and dog-eared.  And I offered him Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine.

This book was incredibly popular when I was in 4th class. It was 1975, and my friends and I bought our copies through the school book club.  For weeks, we spent every recess and lunchtime discussing how amazing it would be to have a computer like Danny’s.  Imagine, a machine able to answer any question typed into it, correctly and instantly.  What a world it would be if that were possible.

But of course we knew it wasn’t possible.  It was just a fantasy.  Practically science fiction.  It was right up there with Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone!

1975 was also the year we got colour television in our house.  To me, it seemed like the ultimate in technology.  I can remember thinking that there couldn’t possibly be anything left to invent after that.  Not even Danny’s homework machine.

It turns out I was wrong  🙂

As my son scanned the blurb on the back cover, he frowned.

“So, it’s about kids using the internet to do their homework?”

“Oh, um…”  Suddenly, Danny began to lose a tiny bit of his magic.  “Not the internet exactly,” I said.  “Similar idea, though, I suppose.  But it’s still a fun story.”

He looked at the picture on the front.  “Why’s the computer so big?”

“Well, the book was written a while ago.”  We checked the publication info inside the cover.  “See?  1958.  That’s how big they were back then.”

He nodded and glanced at his sister’s smart phone on the coffee table.  The same smart phone she’d used just a little while before to look up Rasputin for a history assignment.

“There are other books,” I said, directing my son back to the shelves.   He finally settled on a comic strip book called Footrot Flats and spent a good couple of hours chuckling at the antics of Dog and Wal.   And I tucked Danny Dunn back on the shelf, but not before I did a quick, sentinmental flick through the pages.  That’s when I noticed a list inside the back cover of other titles in the series.  This one in particular caught my eye…

Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint

Anti-gravity paint?  Amazing!  What a concept!  Imagine a world where I could paint my car and float to work!  What a world it would be if that were possible.

But of course I know it’s not possible.  It’s just a fantasy.  Practically science fiction…. 😉

 

The Mysterious Portal at the Back of the Fridge

Look!  There’s a portal at the back of my fridge.

Behind the jars of half-used curry paste and pasta sauce, beyond that leftover slice of frittata, is a gateway to another dimension.  A place of adventure and mystery, where I can travel to the future.  Or the past.

Or maybe not.

Okay, so there’s no portal at the back of my fridge.  I just wish there was.

I used to do this sort of thing a lot when I was younger and doing chores.  In highschool, when I’d iron my school uniform I’d pretend I was a plastic surgeon with a new technique for removing wrinkles.  Drying the dishes?  No, I was polishing the crown jewels.  As for cleaning my room, well, that was an archaeological expedition and I was on the hunt for King Arthur’s sword.  Or the lost city of Atlantis.  But it’s years now since I’ve escaped into my imagination to relieve the boredom of chores.

Until today.

I cleaned the fridge out, you see.  One of those regular, boring, has-to-be-done, tasks.  And it’s never a matter of simply throwing a few things out, is it?  Because as you shift things around you notice other things, like the leak from the chilli sauce bottle that’s fallen on its side.  Then you see a splash of something on the wall at the back.  And that tomato looks fine from the top, but when you pick it up….eww.

Next thing you know you’re not just getting rid of some expired condiments and doing a wipeover, no.  Now you’re pulling everything out.  Including the shelves and racks.   And you’re scrubbing.  And chipping away at that puddle of chilli sauce because it’s hardened and dried like bloody concrete.

Anyway, today as I cleaned I remembered back to my days of plastic surgery and archaeological expeditions, and I wondered what the teenage me would have made of fridge cleaning.  Tomb raiding, perhaps?

In the end I decided I was clearing a pathway to a mystical portal that exists just below the temperature control dial.  Who knows, it might make a good story one day.  Maybe.  So if I ever venture into writing children’s books, and you come across this title, The Mysterious Portal at the Back of the Fridge, you’ll know where the idea came from 🙂

And now I have to go and put the groceries away.  Or am I really hiding plundered treasure?

 

Is it kitsch? Or is it vintage?

 pineapplestring

“While Jo and her apartment are beautifully styled, inside her kitchen cupboard all is kitsch.  It’s her guilty pleasure and the tackier the item, the better.  Quirky egg-cups, souvenir tea towels, oversized novelty spoons – her kitchen resembles a tourist-trap souvenir shop.”

From Over the Edge, p.57

It’s funny how little things from real life have made their way into my book.  Not that I have a kitchen full of kitsch like Jo, but I’ll admit I do have the odd item stored away.  Only, I prefer to think of them as momentos.

This little string-dispensing pineapple in the picture above has been in my kitchen for years, and my parents’ kitchen before that. Growing up, I thought it was something really special, especially with its inside lining of sparkly gold foil.  Although, as you can see, the gold foil is gone now. Long gone.  And modern-day balls of string don’t seem to fill it out like those of yesteryear.  But it’s still a fabulous piece of 70’s kitsch from my childhood, and it was the inspiration for one of Jo’s character traits in Over The Edge.

Jo’s kitsch obsession started one morning as I sat at the dining room table, drafting out some character profiles.  Jo was chic and modern.  Confident.  A woman of her times with a stylish studio apartment that could have come out of Vogue living.  When I’d finished her profile I went to make a cup of tea (and eat some Tim Tams) and while I waited for the kettle to boil, the little pineapple caught my eye.  Rarely used, it sat on a high shelf; a relic from the past, surrounded by today’s mod cons and a neutral colour scheme.  It seemed so out of place and somehow unexpected, and slowly, I began to see Jo a bit differently.  What if, beneath all the sleek and modern, was a passion for anything kitschy?

I went back to the laptop and began adding to my notes.  The little pineapple string-dispenser morphed into a pair of pineapple-shaped salt and pepper shakers that Zoe gave Jo as a gift.  And then that led me to drag out the shoebox stashed in the bottom drawer of my dresser.  The one with “Souvenirs” marked on the lid.  The one I hadn’t looked in since I moved out of home a couple of decades ago.

It was like stepping back in time.

Jo’s gold-fringed, black velvet cushion from the Kiama Blowhole was inspired by this little object d’art below.  We’ve all seen these, haven’t we?  Souvenir spoons?  This one actually came from a Kiama Blowhole tourist shop on the NSW south coast. The matching mug and egg cup are from Surfer’s Paradise on the Queensland Gold Coast.  The orange Luna Park cup came from, you guessed it, Luna Park.  Lots of childhood holidays.  A bit of kitsch.  Some great  memories.

 

If I saw the pineapple or the spoon or the egg cup in a shop today, I wouldn’t buy them. But because of the memories these ones hold, I won’t part with them. Call me sentimental.

But maybe my little momentos aren’t kitschy, after all.  When I went on-line to research more stuff for Jo’s kitchen, I discovered, surprisingly, that some of the items in the photo have become ‘vintage’.  Or at the very least, ‘retro’.  Maybe even prized ‘collectables’.  I don’t know when this shift happened, but it has.

See?  I was always just ahead of my time 🙂

 

 

The fantasy ends here…

I’ve started writing a new story.  That’s what the picture above is all about.  There are artists and paintings involved, but you’ve probably already guessed that.  It’s very early days, but this afternoon I managed to write almost 800 words during my lunch break, which is pretty good for me.  I was on a roll, losing myself in my characters and their story, but the clock ticked on and too soon I had to stop, just as I got to the bit about the lighthouse and the lavender oil.  So I saved my document, emailed it to myself, went back to the spreadsheets and travel bookings, and fantasised about what it would be like to quit work and spend my days writing.  Just writing.

It was a good fantasy.  One I’ve had often, usually while clearing a paperjam in the photocopier.  The fantasy involves a comfy chair and a fireplace and I toast my toes in thick socks while I tap away at my laptop, stopping only to sip hot chocolate from my classic Winnie the Pooh mug.

Sometimes the fantasy takes on a more tropical theme.  A shack by the beach where I’d sit beneath palm trees, writing to the gentle sound of aqua water lapping at the sand.  In this scenario the hot chocolate is replaced by a Malibu splice cocktail. And a bowl of hot, salty chips.

In some ways, these fantasies are almost achievable, if only for a weekend (and that would be the first dent in the fantasy, right there).  I could rent a mountain cottage or a beach shack for a couple of days, but I know the reality would still fall way short of the ideal.  Even if I had my fireplace and my comfy chair, the hot chocolate wouldn’t appear on its own (nor would breakfast, lunch or dinner).  The fire wouldn’t light itself.  I’d have to gather wood, and light it, and then poke and prod at it to keep it burning.  The room would eventually become stuffy and I’d fall asleep and spill my hot chocolate all over myself and the keyboard.  At some point there’d have to be a toilet break and you can bet going to the bathroom would feel like a trip to the Antarctic after the toasty, cosy fireside.

The beach shack doesn’t really work, either.  I can’t imagine sand and laptops go well together.  The Malibu splice, like the hot chocolate, wouldn’t arrive on its own, and I sunburn easily.  And I’ve learned from experience that  seagulls will swarm, and fight almost to the death, for a chance at a hot chip.  It’d be like a scene from that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.  They’d descend on me and I’d be screaming and flapping my arms while running in frantic circles before tearing back into the shack, leaving my laptop behind.  From the window I’d watch the seagulls feast on my fantasy.  And afterwards I’d have to clean bird pooh and bits of chip out of my keyboard.

So yeah, probably best to let the fantasy stay a fantasy.

Mind you, my real writing place is pretty good.  It’s in a nook off the bedroom.  My husband built my desk for me, and it sits by a window that looks over the garden and the bushland beyond.  It’s beautiful.

And there’s not a seagull in sight  🙂

 

 

 

 

A zombie romance?

A model of the zombie apocalypse, courtesy of the Young Man of the House.

My son asked me recently if I was planning to write another book. He looked thoughtful when I said yes, and then told me, very seriously, that I should definitely include zombies in this new story.

This isn’t the first time he’s made such a suggestion. Several times while I was writing Over The Edge he’d recommend throwing in a zombie. Or two. Maybe a whole undead army. Just to keep things interesting.

A couple of weeks ago I was at my desk, plotting out some ideas, when he came in to see what I was doing.
“Are you writing the new story?” he asked.
“I am.”
“You’re not writing about a boss in an office again, are you?”
“No, no bosses or offices this time.”
“Is it another romance?”
“There’ll be some romance, yes.”
“Will there be zombies?”
“Er, no. I don’t think so.”

Now his thoughtful look was back as he told me I really should think about including them. And apparently he’d been giving this quite some consideration because he began acting out a whole storyline, complete with actions and sound effects. And actually, it was pretty good. Two warring zombie armies with humans caught in the middle, trying to defend themselves.
“What about the romance?” I asked.
“Zombies don’t love, they’re dead,” he said simply. “But I guess you could make two of them fall in love if you really want to. Oh, and the man zombie should be called Steve.”

A zombie romance. Now there’s a thought.

And though I probably won’t end up writing an epic tale of zombie love in wartime, I’ve told my son that, somehow, I’ll sneak a zombie called Steve into my next book. Maybe one of my characters will play zombie video games. Or watch movies about the undead. Perhaps my heroine will wake screaming from a zombie nightmare?

Oh, the possibilities. It’ll be fun choosing one 🙂

 

My tic, my editor and me

NowThatii

I have a couple of new story ideas brewing, so I’ve begun making notes.

Over the past few days I’ve been fleshing out plots, writing snippets of narrative, describing locations…and at all costs, avoiding the word “now”. I use it too often in my writing, you see. My editor cut about eleventy billion of them from Over The Edge. 

I remember getting the email from Shay after she’d read an early draft. The email said, “I’ve found your tic!” Of course, the first thing I thought of was an engorged, blood sucking insect.

That’s not what she meant. Fortunately.

Turns out a tic, in this case, is “a frequent quirk in the narrative”. For some writers, their tic might be a particular word or phrase. Maybe a too-oft repeated character trait. Whatever it is, it’s usually small, but its repetition can be enough to drive a reader crazy.

For me, it’s the word “now”.  And, apparently, “that” isn’t far behind it. My narrative was peppered with them both. I hadn’t noticed the overuse when I’d read through the draft, but as I sat back and looked at the document Shay had returned to me, with all the little yellow highlighted bits glowing in track-changes, I couldn’t believe how I’d not seen it before. “Now” and “that” were everywhere. I’d been throwing them around and dropping them like frisbees at the dog park.

This is why we have editors 🙂

All writers have tics, Shay said. She also said when I wrote my next story I’d be so hyper aware, I’d probably cut out plenty of “now”s and “that”s myself, before I even sent in the manuscript.

She was right. See the last sentence about being hyper aware? I just cut two “that”s out of it. Yep. Two. I had one before “when” and one after “aware”, but I caught them. Go me!

But I’m wondering if I’ll replace my old tic with a new one (I sooo wanted to write “now” after “wondering”, but I resisted). Maybe in this next manuscript it’ll be a phrase I overuse and don’t notice. Or I’ll unwittingly give all my characters red hair and a lisp. Even the cat.

Actually, a lisping cat could be interesting 🙂

So there you have it. My writer’s tic, all exposed. What do you think of that, now?

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Someone asked me recently how much of myself was in Over the Edge.  The truth is, not a lot.  Zoe is not based on me, or anyone I know, but I will admit that a couple of her more embarrassing moments might also be mine.

Like the banana incident (hence the photo above).  Shall I share it with you?

It was a few years ago now, back before we had kids.  My husband and I were travelling from Queensland to Sydney and stopped off in Coffs Harbour.  For those who don’t know, Coffs Harbour is a well-known tourist destination on the north coast of New South Wales, home to beautiful beaches, banana plantations, and the iconic Aussie tourist attraction The Big Banana – an enormous piece of fibreglass fruit.

So, we stopped at the Big Banana, like you do when you travel through Coffs.  It was a warm day and we took our time as we strolled around the plantation and bought chocolate covered bananas at the kiosk.  Yum.  I was still eating mine as we headed back to the car, savouring it, licking the melting chocolate from my fingers.

On the way out of town we stopped for petrol.  I got out to fill the tank, not realising that the service station provided driveway service.  The young guy who came to help gave me a big smile.  He made small talk, asked if we were passing through and had we been to see the Big Banana.  He nodded when I said yes.  His smile grew and he asked me if I’d tried one of the famous chocolate covered bananas.

“Yes,” I smiled back.

“Did you enjoy it?” he asked, grinning now.  When I told him it was delicious, he chuckled.

The petrol flowed, the small talk continued and so did the chuckles.  Once the tank was filled and paid for I climbed back in the car and commented to my husband on what a friendly, smiley guy the attendant was.

It was at this point that my beloved looked at me properly for the first time since we’d got into the car.  I thought he might agree with my assessment of the service station attendant.  Maybe he’d smile and suggest a walk on the beach before the long drive home.  Or perhaps he’d ask where I’d like to stop for lunch.  You can imagine my surprise when his jaw dropped and his eyes bulged and he said…

“Sue?  What is on your face?”

My own jaw dropped as I stared in the rearvision mirror. The chocolatey smudge on my chin I could maybe understand.  The smear on my cheek – okay I could accept that.  But my nose?  Under my eye?  My earlobe?  And…my eyebrow?  Seriously.  My chocolate covered banana had given me a chocolate coated eyebrow.

How?  How?

Bloody melting chocolate.  Bloody iconic banana.

When I looked up at the attendant filling another tank, he was still bloody laughing.

I’ve not been back to visit that oversized piece of fibreglass fruit since.

So, there you go.  One of my most embarrassing moments.  But also a funny moment, as my husband will tell you.  Although I can see the humour now too – it’s only taken ten years or so.  And because truth is sometimes stranger, and funnier, than fiction, that embarrassing moment, or a vague version of it, has made its way into my book.  And so has the incident with the beanie toys and the pooper scooper, but that’s another story 🙂

But on to other things…

This picture below is Whale Beach.  It’s a lovely part of Sydney and features quite a bit in Over the Edge.  I posted the picture a while ago on my Facebook page, and last weekend a friend said how much she liked it, so I thought I’d share it here, too.  Whale Beach is where Zoe thinks she’ll find some serenity, but gets just the opposite 🙂

Oh, and before I go…

In case you missed it, Over the Edge has a book trailer now.  If you’d like, you can view it here.  🙂

I’ll get to that in a minute, but first…

 

About ten years ago I did a creative writing course by correspondence.  It was great fun and at the end I received a diploma and the Round Tuit you see in the photo above.  I’d forgotten all about my Round Tuit, until I read an article this week on procrastination.

When it comes to writing, I procrastinate a lot.  Of course, there are times when inspiration hits and the words pour forth and I can’t wait to get to my laptop and write it all down.

But then there are the other times.  Times when I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to say it.  Times when I know I have a deadline but the words won’t come.  That is when the internet beckons, and sometimes I wonder how Over the Edge was ever finished.

Some writers might decide the house needs cleaning before they can sit down and write that tricky ephiphany scene.  Or they’ll decide the car really needs a wash before the hero finds a way to declare his undying love.  But my house stays messy.  The car is a shambles, because I “research”.  Yeah, that’s what I call it.  Not procrastination.  Research.

Like the day I sat down to write a scene with Angus in his top-floor office of a Sydney skyscraper.  There I was, kids at school, house to myself, no distractions, ready to write…and I decided the first thing I should do is work out which floor Angus’ office was actually on.  I spent a good twenty minutes Googling the heights of Sydney office towers, working out a small, single detail that could’ve been added later on, after the scene was done.  It was the same when Zoe wanted to buy a new satchel bag.  I spent half the morning looking up designer bags without writing a single word.

And so often one thing leads to another.  My research on hiking boots went from websites about rugged outdoor gear to image galleries of glamorous stilettos.  Of course.   And my investigation into pre-nuptial agreements led me to forums about wedding disasters.   Grooms throwing up over brides, collapsing cakes and carjackers stealing the wedding limousine.  Then there was the jealous best-man who burnt down the reception hall, and the mother-in-law who had an allergic reaction to the main course.  It was like being sucked into a black hole of marital mishaps and I couldn’t climb out. Before I knew it the afternoon had disappeared, the kids were home from school and I’d written two sentences.  Two.

But all research is valuable, isn’t it?  I mean, I mightn’t need to know about surf-style dog leads or inflatable Santa sleighs for this story, but I might for the next one.  Right?  Right 🙂

And now, a new visual clue for Over the Edge 🙂

 

Is This Thing On?

Testing, testing…1, 2, 3…

If you’re reading this, it means my blog is working.

It also means my husband has set it up for me because it turns out that the WordPress manual and I don’t see eye-to-eye.  But that’s nothing new.   I’m not one to embrace technology.  No, technology and I have more of a nodding acquaintance.  We’re like the co-workers from different floors who see each other occasionally in the lunchroom.  Or the lift.  Sometimes we might pass in the foyer.  But over the past year technology and I have been thrown together more and more.  Our desks are in the same department now.  We share a water cooler.  And this week it seems we’ve been paired up at the team building event to participate in an awkward “getting to know you” exercise.  We’ll be dancing together at the Christmas party next.  Who knows where this could lead???  Taking photos of each other as we photocopy our bums in the print room?

There is one piece of technology that I have embraced wholeheartedly, and it’s the special effects feature on my camera phone.   I’ve been having a ridiculous amount of fun with it, and thought I’d post some picture teasers from my books.  Little clues and hints as to what happens in Over the Edge and The Thunderstorm

Which brings me to the reason for this website.  The books.  Since childhood my goal was to be a published author, so this past year of book deals, writing and editing, creating websites and blogs, has been exciting and thrilling and terrifying, all at once.  Kind of like that first loop on a rollercoaster.  I hope you’ll join me for the next loop 🙂

So, here’s the first picture teaser.  A visual snippet from Over the Edge.  I’d love to know what you think.