Over the next few days I’m really busy but was conscious I hadn’t posted here for a week. So in the meantime, until I can get something else up, here are some snippets to keep you going.
1. I’ve just been browsing through Virginia Lloyd’s website. Again. Yeah yeah, I know she’s my agent but seriously, her site is chock-full of good tips for writers looking to make progress in terms of submissions. It’s worth spending some time going through her old posts; there is everything from ‘what publishers want’ to ‘things that piss off agents’ (not really, Virginia wouldn’t use that expression, let’s say ‘things that are red flags to agents, and let them know you’re being unprofessional’). It’s rare to find an agent who is so approachable and accessible, and so polite and warm. Virginia answers questions on her blog too, in fact welcomes them, and she IS currently interested in seeing non-fiction proposals from Australian writers. Do check her submissions page first before sending a query email. (See above about not pissing agents off/not looking unprofessional.)
2. Second thing. Last week on Wednesday night I took my daughter to see George RR Martin at Dallas Brooks Hall, and Lady Catelin Stark was there too (aka Michelle Fairley.) It was a great night, the place filled with intense gaming-fantasy type men with beards, stooped postures, anoraks and Crumpler bags. Michelle River-Danced across the stage upon entry, and she was wearing what looked like purple high-gloss Mary Jane type shoes. George wore his trademark cap and red suspenders and jeans. Before the event I took Lily to dinner at Thuy Thuy in Victoria Street, Richmond. I don’t think the prices have gone up since about 1989. The menu looks the same and the decor is definitely the same. Fantastic stuff. We had salted fried quail and those spring rolls with lettuce, bean shoots and dipping sauce.
3. Friday night I went to the Most Underrated Book Award at the Wheeler Centre. Put on by the former SPUNC, now SPN (Small Press Network, why oh why did they change the name? Was it because SPUNK in America is slang for semen? If so, I can understand that I guess.)
There were four nominees. Annabel Smith for her novel about twin brothers who have become estranged: Whisky, Charlie, Foxtrot (Fremantle Press); Ginger Briggs for her non-fiction book about youth and justice: Staunch (Affirm Press); Merlinda Bobis for Fish-Hair Woman (a novel about the nature of storytelling, set in the Philippines) (Spinifex Press) and Anna Solding for The Hum of Concrete, a novel telling the story of five people in a city in Sweden (MidnightSun Publishing).
The MC was Mary Masters from SPN and she was fantastic. Funny and compelling. Just wow. Three of the four nominees were present and gave speeches, all of them terrific. Annabel couldn’t attend but delivered a message via video.
The winner was Merlinda, and I’ve since been told on twitter — emphatically — that her book is wonderful. I bought a copy on Friday night and met her, and I look forward to reading it. Also, I bought a copy of Ginger’s book, we have an acquaintance as we were briefly in the same writers group. I ended up sitting across from Anna at dinner, her book sounds fascinating but I had to be choosy, and I already have Annabel’s book and ‘talk’ to her occasionally on twitter. So a very local evening where I had connections with all the shortlisted authors.
4. Yesterday I did the ASA Scrivener course in the city. What an amazing piece of software and the course was really good to get you going. While I know I will only use a tiny part of it, the cost is low (about $40 for the download) so it’s not a waste if you don’t use all of it. For me, the big big thing will be able to section my manuscripts into chapters and scenes and be able to easily move them around. Also you can set word targets for the whole ms or sections, which is helpful too. You can set up key cards on a virtual corkboard and move them around too, a la Nabokov. You can attribute colour coding to those cards; useful for themes/motifs, keeping track of POVs or specific characters, even locations. Finally, it handles large swathes of text, something Word doesn’t do very well, it can get a bit weird with documents of upwards of 90K.