Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Risky Way Home

Did the title of this blog grab your attention? It was intended to because it's the new name for one of my older books which has just been edited.

Back in 1997, when I was 27 with one 2yo toddler, I completed a m/s named "Afraid To Love." My husband, Andrew, and I printed 200 copies to sell to friends, acquaintances and relatives to see how they would like it. As it happens, several people told me they liked it very much. But it was purely experimental and a bit rough around the edges. I've spent a considerable amount of time re-writing the whole thing and at last, it's just finished being properly edited.

I thought I'd share a bit of what the editor told me. The first was that I needed to change the name. In her opinion, "Afraid To Love" sounded a bit like a formula romance in the style of Harlequin, which my book definitely isn't. She said I needed to choose a new title to reflect the drama and suspense she found in my story. So after throwing around names such as "A Dangerous Love" and "A Perilous Love" I came up with what you see above, "The Risky Way Home." That's got the thumbs up from most people I've run it past so far.

As for the story itself, I was relieved to find nowhere near the sheer amount of editing changes that I needed for my "Quenarden" series. Being a contemporary novel set in my own Adelaide Hills, South Australia, I found the setting far easier. But here are a few bits of editing I thought I'd mention.

1) In several instances, she made notes that my heroine was focussing too much on the hero's good looks rather than his character (LOL). "For inspirational novels with Christian themes, his character really MUST be at the forefront!" And I never realised I was doing that. So that was an easy one to change.

2) She dispensed with one of my sub-plots regarding the heroine's sister and her husband. I was loath to see all that good writing go, but the editor wrote, "Trust me, you'll end up with a far superior manuscript. As far as I'm concerned, these guys are just getting in the way of your main story and frustrating readers because they're holding it up." So be it. As Andrew said, "It'll make our printing costs cheaper, anyhow."

3) The heroine has a brother named Dale and a b-i-l named Danny. Although I always knew exactly who I was talking about (of course), Wendy, the editor, found herself getting them mixed up in her head. Eventually she wrote, "Their names are so similar, I find myself getting confused and have no doubt other readers will too." So I had to change one of them, and as Danny is in the story far less than Dale, he became "Jeff." I thought if I had to make the change, it might as well be something as dissimilar as I could make it. Now hopefully, nobody will get them mixed up.

Our plan is to publish "The Risky Way Home" and re-publish another older one, "Picking up the Pieces" as soon down the track as we can. Meanwhile I'm working on another contemporary, "A Design of Gold" and also my newest Quenarden story. Things have always moved so slowly for my patience level, but I'm resolved to enjoy each step along the way. I had too cover guys over for supper last night, our photographer friend and graphic design friend, but I'll mention more about that next time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A fun tag

I was tagged by Tara B to come up with 7 random or weird facts about myself. Here goes.

1) One of my favourite ways of getting imagination flowing is to take a drive, preferably at night, and listen to music. I'm lucky enough to have plenty of country roads near my house. It's a cosy way to wind down and also get some new ideas for books. Relaxing and writing are two of my favourite things so when I get to do them together it's a bonus.

2) Some things drive me crazy. I hate the noise of fingernails being run down a blackboard. I also hate the sound of a knife being cut into the bottom of a china plate. In fact just typing these things puts my teeth on edge.

3) I sometimes find myself getting a bit annoyed by common things people say. A prime example is hearing adults such as teachers or shop workers calling children, "Darling" or "Sweetie," especially in a stern way. When I was a little girl and people said it to me, I used to think it sounded so phony. My own children have noticed recent examples. A lady doing a puppet show at the library told a little girl, "Move back with the others, Sweetie, I'll be walking there." And an assistant at K-Mart told a little boy who was asking for help finding car toys, "You'll have to ask someone else, Darling!" I understand they mean it to sound kind and friendly, but it still smacks of condescension to me. Not many people use it with adults, after all.

4) Since reading a particular book by Joyce Meyer, I've also been sensitive lately to people saying "Oh My God!" In her book, she said that it's really accidental profanity when people say this. If they realised how they're watering down the power of this Name by using it so freely for pointless little things, they'd be far more careful. After reading that, I've noticed it everywhere! People even shorten it to OMG. TV sitcoms are rife with it. A well-known lady Adelaide news presenter said it last year on TV when she saw Santa Claus coming to the pageant in front of all the kids. I think it's a bit of a worry, actually.

5) I like Turkish Delight chocolate.

6) I think we mess our kids minds up when we teach them not to show off, shush them when they yell, 'I'm the best at this!', instill modesty in them, and then expect them to go out as adults and sell themselves to the big wide world! This occurred to me earlier this week when my daughter was playing with a little Bob the Builder toy truck that says, "I can fix it!" She said, "He's showing off," and I replied, "No, he's just advertising himself. That's different." Then I thought, "Aha, how are they supposed to know it's different?" Much better to praise them and make them aware of their gifts and talents in those very early years.

7) I need to read my Bible lots. I accept every word in it as the truth and claim it for myself. I've worked out that's like medicine. It's the only way I keep on top of things, because I'm a bit of a stress-head when I neglect this.

There, this has turned out to be a bit of a philosophical soapbox, but hey, that's what tags can be all about. I've been asked to hand the baton on to others, but I'll just leave this one open and say I'd be interested to read the blogs of anyone who takes it up.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'll be my own house cleaner!

The title of this probably sounds a bit weird. After all, I've always been my own housecleaner. Nobody else wants to do it. This story started earlier in the week when I found a flyer in our letterbox. It said, "Do you run out of time to clean your house? Let me do it for you." And the writer went on to say that she was a hardworking Thai mum who would charge just $10/hour for all sorts of cleaning and ironing.

The price was the first thing that leaped out at me. $10.00 per hour! I know that professional housecleaners from agencies charge anything from $50.00 to $80.00 per hour. This lady sounded incredibly cheap and I had to admit I was interested. I'm not one of those cosy, good old-fashioned housewives who don't mind cleaning and tidying the house. They sound a bit mythical to me. To be quite honest, I find it a real drag. So I showed the flyer to my dh and talked it over with him. He agreed that her price was brilliant and said, "Well, if you want to give her a call, I don't mind."

I was on the verge of doing it. I even jotted down a little list, figuring out that if she came for 2 hours a fortnight to help with some mopping, dusting, bathroom, kitchen and laundry cleaning, it'd be a great help and only set us back only $40.00 per month. I had the phone in my hand but something held me back from dialling her number.

I figured out what it was. I've never paid anyone for help with housework in my life. If I was going to pay anybody for doing it, I'd prefer to pay my own kids! They are always wanting to earn money for different reasons. Logan is trying to save up for a PS3 and Emma likes a bit of money in her purse at all times for things that strike her fancy in the shops. So I put it to them that if they'd like to take an even more active role in the housework, I'd pay them the money I'd considered paying the cleaning lady. (At present, we encourage them to keep their rooms tidy, unload the dishwasher and hang and unhang the occasional load of washing.)

I didn't get much interest. They both said that although they wanted money, they'd rather not scrub laundry tubs, mop floors and wash windows on a regular basis. And when I told Andrew, he commented that it proves how serious Logan really is about saving for his Play Station. I couldn't help agreeing. That's when I came up with my good idea.

I'm always trying to earn money for Apple Leaf Books. We keep this account separate from normal living expenses. Theoretically, selling books should be the bulk of it, but during slower periods, I still need a cash flow. My editor has just emailed that she recently finished work on my m/s, so that'll be coming out of Apple Leaf Books. We'll be needing work done on cover design soon too, so funds will dwindle. I'd love to see the balance creep up again. That's when I thought that I ought to keep doing the housework as I've always done, and then extract the $10/hour that I was going to pay the cleaning lady to put into Apple Leaf Books! It might sound simple but I felt that it was a brainwave. So did Andrew, when I told him, and he said, "Hopefully it'll make you more motivated."

Time will tell! I can't imagine that anything will ever help me like housework, but thinking about this new way of doing things, I'm actually looking forward to turning on the steam mop shortly. After all, housewives do work hard enough to deserve a pay check.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Northern Lights in the South

This is a fun night excursion we did not once but twice. "The Northern Lights" was set up on North Terrace, Adelaide, all through March. North Terrace is where many of our stately old buildings are all lined up on one road. Some bright geniuses worked out a way to project changing images of light on each of the buildings and the result was amazing, like walking through a fantasy land. There were about five or six light images for each building, each lasting about ten minutes. The one above looks as if it's covered with ivy but it was all light.
Although I took quite a few photos, I'll only post some of them. This is one of the smaller buildings. It's Elder Conservatorium, where Uni students learn music.

This was one of my very favourites. The image is outside of the Art Gallery. Each of those statues were made of light! People were walking up and waving their hands through them.

There's Emma back there in a ray of light.

There was quite a crowd each night the lights were on.

I tried to take a close-up of this one on the museum. It was made to look like a haunted house with spider webs, and there was even a big red back image.

That's part of the state library.

We really liked the bright ones. My little camera isn't all that expensive but it did a pretty good job without its flash.

Because it was Blake's 4th birthday last week, I'll just include a few birthday photos too. It can be quite a trick to get a nice photo of Blake, as he's decided he's camera shy and never poses when anyone asks him to.

Here he is with his big brother.

One of his favourite presents, a kingergarten program for the computer.