Saturday, February 24, 2007

You Can Push Things Too Far

How do you know when to stop?

I sometimes get carried away with myself and push things too far -- humor, using too many similes, even ... well, pushing myself into an exhauted state that does nobody any good. The things is, it's hard to know how much is pushing the envelope, being all you can be, stepping out and being brave, and how much is totally stupid recklessness and flouting the rules just coz you can, and rushing where the angels wipe their shoes.

According to Stephen Pressfield "-- the more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it." Which says to me "When the going gets tough, the tough use machetes." (Hmmm --that could explain some of my more cutting humor. :-) To me that says when the world shoves, shove back. But how much and for how long?

I'm never sure how to draw the line, or how to get over the line, or how to drop just enough of the right line. Like at the mo. I'm re-re-re-editing. I think it makes my story better, but when... when am I done?

Anyone got any secrets to share? Do you know when to shout "Enough!"?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Good News!

Paige Wheeler judged my romantic suspense Come To Heal second of the four finalists in the single title section of the Romancing the Tome competition.

And even more exciting good news, one of my CPs gave birth to a beautiful baby girl this week. I'm totally delighted for her. :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bloodlines and Heart Strings is a grand champion winner!

Oh my! I just got news that my short story Bloodlines and Heart Strings has not only been accepted for "A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers", but has won grand champion and, as such, will be the leading story in the anthology. I'm so excited. And chuffed. I love these uplifting books.

Anyway, the anthology comes out in August. I only hope it's as good as the last Cup of Comfort anthology I was in. Meantime, I'm very, very proud to be part of it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How can you miss something that big?

Well, the kids are back at school and, much as I hate to admit it, I miss my little tacker. He is a most unusual child and has a talent for tilting the world on its edge. This is the one who, when asked what he hoped to get for Christmas said, "baked salmon with a hollandaise sauce." Hmm.

Not surprisingly, we spent much of the holidays cooking and eating (especially since my fruit trees are in full production.) While my oldest son was away at camp, I took the young one to breakfast at the Raspberry Farm. Don't let the name fool you. This place is more Cordon Blue than true blue Oz, very up-market whether you're there for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks and I would heartily recommend you visit if you're ever in this neck of the world. Naturally there's a heavy emphasis on raspberries on the menu (even in the coffee), grown fresh on the premises.

Anyway, the raspberry farm has a child's menu which the waitress handed to him once we were seated, and an adult menu which she handed to me. My kid can read like an adult and probably twice as fast, so even upside down across the table he had my menu sussed within the first five minutes. Time came for the waitress to take our orders. He curled his lip at the poached eggs, and sausage in a blanket and tapped his menu card like a disgruntled food critic.

"I don't suppose you do a child's version of the smoked salmon scrambled eggs," he asked.

The woman smiled indulgently. "I'm sure we could arrange it," she said, nodding to me like she thought this was my idea. This was the first I knew about it, though I had told him to have whatever he wanted since we don't go out to eat very often lately.

"Good," he said, going back to his menu. "I'd rather it be served on a bagette, than toast. Does it come with capers?"

By this time she looked ready to fall out of her frilly apron. "Um… we can do capers or dill," she says with a deer-under-headlights glance at me.

"Fine. Just go with the dill then. And a small serve of waffles and raspberry icecream with …" He batts his baby blues at her. "Do you make your own fresh coullis?"

"Y-y-yes," she stammers. Her throat works. You can see she's dying to get back to the kitchen to tell everyone a story they're not going to believe.

"Fine. I'll go with that then."

He passes her the menu and she walks away. She's gone maybe halfway across the floor before she remembers to come back and take my order, too. I'm biting my lip, trying desperately not to laugh. I've seen him do this many times before.

Now before you think he's a little man of the world and sure to go places, let me shatter your illusions by adding that he tucked his napkin under his chin, got sauce all over his face and the table, and ate so much he puked on their lawn on the way out. Charming! But one thing is for sure, the boy knows food. And don't even get me started on my 13 yr old's love of blue cheese! I'm not sure how I got such strange kids.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shake it

Since nobody has any requests at the mo, I am pleasing myself. I spent today rewriting Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." Very tongue in cheek, of course. Very modern, gender confused, and riddled with puns. Lots of sparklies, too. Yeah, I know. It'll never sell, but by golly it felt good to stretch the gray matter with wicked dry wit again. Hehehehe. At least I amused myself and chocolate wasn't involved. :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sing it, baby

No news from the agent of my dreams yet. I think this You Tube says it all. :-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Valentine's Day Gift for You

I hope you enjoy my sweet contemporary short story, Love on a Stub.
Written 2001. Special thanks to Michelle Braden for designing my cover.

"I’m telling you, you had the cinema tickets," Damien snapped, flicking through his wallet with agitated fingers.

Melanie chewed the inside of her cheek and tried not to cringe in front of the crowds of canoodling couples waiting for entrance to the Valentine's Day special sessions. Most carried boxed chocolates or single, long-stemmed roses. All she currently carried was her favorite handbag and an unfair share of blame.

"I distinctly remember handing them to you," he grumbled, turning out his pant pockets while he spoke. The volume of his voice rose with every syllable.

"Well, I haven't got them either," she whispered harshly, hoping he'd take the hint and lower his voice. Where was the nice guy she'd started dating ten months ago? More and more lately Damien's temper aimed its barbs at her. When everything went his way, he treated her like a princess, but if anything went wrong, even little things, he could get downright persnickety.

His handsome face creased into an impatient frown and he hissed aggravation through clenched teeth. If his forehead got any more furrowed, he’d have to screw on his hat.

"You must have them." Glassy blue eyes full of ill temper flashed at her.

"Check my bag if you don't believe me," she offered.

Leaning over, he snatched her black leather pocketbook. Her mouth dropped open and hung. She'd meant to be facetious, and never imagined he'd rifle through the bag's contents oblivious to her feelings.

He dropped onto a nearby seat and sprawled her personal items over the popcorn-smeared velvet, in full view of anyone in the cinema foyer who cared to look. Her eyes widened and she gritted her teeth.

"What’s this?" he asked, dragging the torn lid of a tampon box into center stage.

"Not tickets." She snatched the cardboard and quickly thrust it into her coat pocket.

He watched with bland interest, recognition slowly dawning. "Oh. You're not, ah... you know."

Her face heated. Did he not notice the restless crowd focusing on them as the most interesting distraction currently available? This was not a topic for public discussion or amusement.

"I always carry them just in case," she mumbled when he continued looking at her expectantly.

His reasons for wanting to know rankled. As if she was inclined to get romantic tonight when he treated her like this. Then again, how many periods could she fake in a month?

He continued to rummage through her bag like the drug squad with a known offender. Any moment now he'd slit the lining to ensure his search was thorough.

"Yeah, I thought so." He yanked movie stubs from the bottom of her bag and waved them triumphantly under her nose. "You don’t have them, huh?" Sarcasm dripped from his words in ugly puddles.

She blinked mascara-heavy eyelashes and tried to focus, reading the faded print.

"Oh," he grumbled when he read them too. "These are old."

No kidding, Sherlock.

He bent his head and continued ransacking, unaware that she'd grown unnaturally still. Her eyes burned, suddenly too dry. Her lip quivered and she gnawed it.

So there were those old movie stubs. Memory still held every detail of the day she'd bought them fresh and vivid. She curled her hands into fists, baby-pink nails cutting into her palms.

Gran had noticed her from across the street. Waved. Smiled. Together they detoured to the supermarket to buy cute crinkly-plastic triangles full of fresh sandwiches. On white bread. They swapped one each because Melanie didn't like pickles. Gran insisted they buy the mammoth popcorn bucket at the cinema candy bar. In Indonesian slums whole families lived in smaller quarters than that popcorn box. The thing was huge and cost a fortune. The memory made her smile. She should have known then something was up. Gran never wasted money. Not ever. The popcorn was an extravagant gesture on a day apart. A separate day, a day to remember.

"Troy" was a great movie. Epic. Heroic. Gran liked the action, the passion, the grand scale.

"You know," Gran confided as the credits rolled, "grief comes from people holding on to things too long. Like that Menelaus not wanting things to change and not willing to let go when he should have."

Melanie missed the import of the statement at that time, but she got it now. The fateful words sent a cold shiver up her spine.

She and Gran left the cinema arm in arm, their fingers intertwined. Gran's other hand patted Melanie and clucked her wordless love and acceptance as they walked.

"Learn to be happy, girl," Gran admonished. "Holding onto grudges and egos and the past will kill your soul as quick as it killed all those soldiers. Don't you let that happen to you, promise? Find your Paris no matter what it takes, and don't settle for anything less. Love is the only thing worth holding onto, the only thing you get to take with you in the end.”

Something in Gran's wistful tone had spoken to her that day. She'd sensed there was more in the conversation than she understood, but she hadn't known what and she'd shucked it off. Gran grew quiet, introspective. Melanie could still feel those wrinkled, age-spotted hands in hers.

When she was very little she'd pushed that loose skin down skinny forearms until it wrinkled like a series of Indian bracelets along Gran's wrists. Busy hands forever doing something for someone who needed it. Funny hands with the skin too saggy and loose. Love pulsed through those hands like a tangible thing, and beat its way into her body, shoring her up. If only she could have held onto Gran's quiet strength forever.

"I've seen a lot in my years, done a lot of things, but now I'm getting old," Gran warned her.

"Not that old," Melanie teased, dropping a light kiss on the age-softened cheek.

"Old enough. Everything has a shelf life."

"Since when have you been on the shelf, Gran? Darling of the local senior citizen's club, never without a dance partner or a friend."

"Yes, I've lived a good long life, but I'm about worn out. The only reason I'd be sad to go these days, love, is you.” Gran soft-focused on something over Melanie's shoulder and drifted off, then seemed to realise she'd done it and smiled. "I still want so much for you, Mel. I want to see you head over heels in love. I want to shout hurray at the beautiful, blushing bride and say wickedly embarrassing things at your reception."

"You will, Gran," she assured her.

The old woman grew more attentive, her pale blue eyes over bright in the artificial lighting. "But even if I don't, you'll know and remember how much I wanted to. How much you're worth. How much I love you."

It had seemed so important to her. Melanie nodded, not really understanding.

Six short weeks later, Gran died. She'd known her prognosis that day at the cinema, known she faced her own overwhelming battle. She came straight from the doctor's office to keep their date. In a funny way it was her way of coping, reaffirming she was still alive, reassuring herself of the things that made her life rich and complete. Melanie could see that now.

Pain and nausea set up residence shortly after their cinema day and never moved out again. Pancreatic cancer claimed Gran in its quick, cruel way. Sure, she and Melanie spent a lot of time together in that six weeks, but it wasn't the same. Not like their outing, their special day, a gentle passing on of memories, wisdom and love.

Melanie still missed her so intently that pain wrapped around her chest and squeezed until she could barely breathe.

"Melanie, they're not here. We'll have to buy another lot. Since you lost them, you can at least go Dutch. I don't see why I should have to shell out for another set on my own."

One of the old stubs fluttered to the floor and Melanie stooped to retrieve it. She tucked it lovingly in her pocket. Damien waited, hands on his hips, nostrils flaring like sixty's jeans. Any minute he'd tap his foot.

"Take me home, Damien," she said in a soft voice. She wasn't angry with him, but he seemed so petty now she looked at him with new eyes, eyes washed clear with too many unshed tears.

"Home?" he asked in a petulant whine, "don't be ridiculous. We're already here and haven't seen the movie yet."

Her eyes narrowed to let him know she meant it.

"You can't be serious." His leather shoe stamped on the faded carpet. "Don't be such a baby, Mel."

Welcome to the pot and kettle show. He surrendered her purse and she snapped it closed.

His thick top lip curled. "Oh for Pete's sake, all right. I'll pay for your ticket. Again."

She shook her head, not sure whether to laugh or cry. Couldn't he see that they didn't belong together anymore?

"Never mind," she said. "I'll take a taxi."

"A taxi? Why?" His voice was an irksome bleat.

"Why?" She gave a short mirthless laugh, torn between the grating look of incredulity on his face and the poignancy of the love letter within the old movie stub. "Because Damien, we will never have Paris."

He looked at her as if she'd lost her mind. Any further explanations would be about as useful as a glass hammer. She turned to make her own way home.

Single again. Breaking up on Valentine’s Day seemed to go against all the tenets of the holiday and yet, with her memories, she was never truly alone. And leaving Damien didn't hurt as much as she'd expected.

With every step her heart grew lighter. Her lips lifted at the corners. Gran was right. You just had to know what to hold, what to release and when to let go.

For more exciting FREE READS go to for a complete listing

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Yeah, it is Valentine's Day here already, but as I am sitting alone and d/h won't be home until Friday, I figure I might as well break out the chocolates and a romance novel. The day has to be good for something, right?
Tomorrow, however, I'll be posting a free Babe King story as my Valentine's Day gift for you. And not only that, but a ton of other talented divas will be doing the same thing and we'll link up. So grab yourself some decent chocolate and tune in here tomorrow for a fantastic day of free romantic reading. What could be better than that?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Mother Load

My peaches and apricots are finished for the year. Boo hoo. And the apples are swelling but not quite ripe yet. My sons and I were in the orchard today, caring for the trees and eyeing off the progress of our fruit.

"We're going to have a mother-lode of apples in a few weeks," I told them.

"What's the difference between a mother-lode and a truckload," my oldest asked, trying to be cheeky and eyeing off my none-too-svelt rear end.

Without a second's hesitation, the 7 year old answered,"two wheelbarrows."

We scratched our heads.

"That's the full load mummy can carry before she falls forward," he explained.

Definitely a way with words that boy. Maybe he'll be a writer too. :-)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tagged Again!

This is what I get for teaching Eva about belly dancing! Okay, so the new challenge:

The rules: Once you have been tagged you cant be re-tagged, you have to write a blog with 10 weird random things, facts, or habits about yourself. At the end, you chose 10 people to be tagged and list their names. Dont forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" on their profile and tell them to read your latest blog.

1. I just queried the agency of my dreams and my stomach is tied in knots

2. See no 1. You want me to think in this condition?

3. All right, pouting and thinking.... I bite my hand when I'm nervous.

4. Right now I am doing this weird little contortion thing so I can keep biting my hand while typing.

5. Gotta go-- the men in white coats just turned up to take me away.

6. Sometimes I get creative with the truth. They're actually wearing green today.

7. And to quote Ashleigh Brilliant "Some of the things that live longest in my memory never really happened."

8. I have a black opal from my own mine.

Actually that one is true. Long story, but true. :-)

9, I have been known to buy a second cup of coffee so I can hear the rest of someone's conversation that I'm eavesdropping on. Shameful, but also true.

10. My deep red rose flowered today. I was hoping it would hold off for the 14th, but when you're that beautiful you get to call the shots.

Who to tag? Gee, I think I'll just leave it up to you guys. If you'd like to be tagged, you are--astral tagging-- I'm doing my Dharma impression today, although my "Om" is more of an "Um."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Is it just me, or are the rest of you glad to hear Jenny Crusie is having trouble writing her latest book? So much trouble that she stashed the manuscript away for years after a heart-rendering meeting with her ed and the story only resurfaced recently. Wow. My idol is human after all! Even now she's not sure the tale is doable and her blog is all about doubt and worry and trying things she's unsure of, you know, just like our blogs usually are.

My pleasure is not tall poppy syndrome, honest. I like poppies. When I need pain relief I REALLY like poppies. What produces my pleasure is knowing that I'm not alone. I belong to the sisterhood of "I can't believe what I'm doing and at this point have no clue how to pull it off" writers. Yay us. And double yay Jenny for being so honest about her struggles. (Says a lot about her as a person.) This is yet more proof that perseverence and continual learning and trying new things are what get you there (wherever the magical "there" actually is), and that some projects are just never gonna work but that's okay coz it means you haven't slipped into predicable, safe plotting and characters.

Or maybe her difficulties just prove that colourful saying about excrement happening? In any case, it gives this poppy-loving little writer hope.

Keep the faith, sisters.

Monday, February 05, 2007

In the Pink

I had to have a mammogram today. Now I know the theory of what happens during this procedure, but the thought of having someone squish my breasts to a strip of beef jerky didn't exactly thrill me. (Cold compress anyone?) I mean, if I wanted to be pressed chicken I'd mail myself to the deli and cluck.

Plus, I'm a bit young for mammograms, and my tissue isn't as willing to lie down and be pushed around as it might be later. (Maybe with more age your bust goes senile and likes to be pointed in the direction of home, as opposed to be stretched infinitely in the wrong direction by gravity?)

Anyhow, let me reassure any of you who might be facing a mammogram for the first time, it's not as bad as you might think. It's a bit like a large pinch that stops just short of actually hurting. Plus you get to see just how wide your boobs can be, kinda like rolling balls of play dough, then flattening them with your fist. (insert evil childish laugh here)

So now I'm not a mammogram virgin anymore, and I get to wait 6 weeks to make sure I don't win any booby prizes. No, sir-ee. The only lump I want in this house is d/h on the lounge, if he ever comes home from Melbourne. (yes, he's gone again!) I burst into near hysterical laughter as I made my way home from the mammogram bus. Why? The local lingerie store was having a big sale. They had $10 racks, $20 racks, and $50 racks according to the sign in the window. I figure after being smushed, my rack might go for less than that today.

Don't you love being a girl?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Life's Just Peachy

This is my kitchen bench and one day's harvest. (Yes, I get a bucket load or more of fruit every day- isn't that awesome!) I only wish this was smell-a-blogging I tell ya. It's a funny thing how one day is all pooh, well, fertilizer if you want to get technical, and the next bears results that, even though you slogged your guts out for them, still come as a pleasant surprise.
Besides my juicy haul here, today has been one of harvest. I got several thank yous from contest entries I judged saying how much I helped them. I got a thumbs up from a beta reader saying One Doctor: Well Heeled is awesome and Medallion would be nuts not to grab it. And someone I considered a friend and then thought she didn't like me anymore contacted me. Yay! Also, I got an invitation to write a short story for a Freya's Bower anthology, Dreams and Desires.
So though the poop has been thick and stinky around here lately, the sweet fruits are finally forming and getting rid of the bad taste in my mouth.
Here's to a bumper harvest!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Blogger Turns Pink!

Out with betas and in with the cake mix. Yep, my blog as gone candy-floss pink and the pigs are flying. Backwards, no doubt.

I miss the little cherries that Jax made me (thanks Jax,) but maybe once I work out the new bugs and sweet talk my ever-faithful American CP, we can bring back the fruits ... er fruit. (There're always fruits on my blog, for which I'm thankful since they make the most interesting company.)

Meantime, move over Barbie, the bimbo with everything, and entrez vous Babe-alicious in her new sty. Who knew I could be so girly? Tomorrow it's tiarras, okay?