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Posts tagged ‘about time’

Overachiever

I admit it: I have an automatic Google search that informs me when Smart/Casual or About Time is mentioned on a website.

Mostly the alerts are about second-hand copies of my books for sale, but occasionally it is something else: The Ampersand Agency’s blog, the debut album from Kids in Glass Houses, or the Smart Casual Raiding Co. of Earthen Ring (“Someone talked to Tirion and decided we don’t need the strength of Wrynn buff – and we do not!” Don’t ask. Here. See for yourself and let me know if you have any idea what brand of mushroom they’re smoking.)

A couple of weeks ago, Google Alerts emailed me the link to this review of Smart/Casual, by Read in a Single Sitting. My critic was kind enough to award it 4 stars out of 5. That’s an A-, right? Well, it is in The University of Western Ontario, which doesn’t sound like the type of college where you can buy your degree at all.

So that would be the highest score I ever got for English Composition and, you know, I can only consider it a failing on my former English teacher’s part that she never likened my writing to:

a Jack Russell: small and with a lot of character, but once you get past the fact that it jumps all over you and tries to do the dirty with your leg, you can’t help but love it

Long melancholy tragi-horror

When Little Black Dress offered me a two book deal, the contract specified only that the second book should be a ‘short, funny romance’.

At the time, I had already started another novel. However, since Revenge of the Cow is a long, melancholy tragi-horror, I postponed it and started a book that featured more boners.

That covered the romance.

‘About Time’ is a sequence of snapshots over an extended period, narrated by both the male and female protagonists.

“Oh my goodness,” said my agent, when I told him I was writing half the book from a male perspective. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Maybe you could write his sections in omniscient pluperfect. Or . . . something..”

Indeed, for a long time I wondered whether I could pull it off. I’ve always considered my humour fundamentally female, deriving as it does from exaggeration and dramatic over-statement; and Conn’s personality was the precise opposite. Although I had a clear idea of Conn’s character (highly intelligent but pathologically incapable of normal social interaction), getting his ‘voice’ right – the clipped sentences and formal structure – was an arduous process that felt entirely unnatural at the outset.

At least my sense of humour was ideally suited to Lara’s free-spirited character with an uncanny ability to pick emotional wankers.

The story is about the concept of fate or destiny as opposed to free will/choice.

Also, of course, boners.

I’m not going to get a chance to post over the next couple of days, but in the meantime here’s an excerpt from About Time. I hope you enjoy it.

x

Nuttier than a bucket of walnuts

Crazy times here in Casa del Deadlyjelly.

By ‘crazy’, everything is relative. Husband didn’t go on the rampage with a chainsaw – although that may be just a matter of time. I have not resorted to licking the walls – most likely a matter of time too; or a natural response to Andrew coming at me with a live chainsaw. Jed is madder than a barrel of frogs, but relatively speaking? No change there.

The copyeditor came back to me with her feedback on About Time, so I’ve spent the last few days clenched onto my laptop trying not to smear it in blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears, which are at least more sanitary than the other two.

Apart from the time pressure (not all self-inflicted – I spoke to my editor the other day and she sounded mildly panicked about getting About Time into production) I’ve actually enjoyed revising the book. Which is a first for me: reading through my own work and not thinking it sucks lemons genetically modified for extra acidity. I actually felt quite smug. Not sure I’m over it yet.

Now we’re about to embark on a little road trip to the Coromandel. Normal service will resume on Sunday.

About Time

My publishers sent through the cover for About Time recently:

Officially, OH MY GOD I LOVE IT!!!!!

Unofficially, I hate yellow. But I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. Just nibble the fingers a bit.

For the last few days I’ve been working on the copyeditor’s feedback. This is the last hurdle before the book goes into production (no idea whether that’s the correct terminology, but it sounds good to me), due for release at the end of April.

Not posting: the excuses

1. A walrus ate my laptop.

2. I have been frenziedly editing my second book, the aptly titled ‘About Time‘ (unlike the excuse above, this one happens to be true). Editing is a 5-stage process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. This time around, it took only five weeks to reach Acceptance – which either means: a/ I’m getting better; or b/ my wonderful, long-suffering editor has finally attained Stage 5.

3. My parents arrived on an extended holiday from Ireland. I tell you, looking after them is a Full Time Job: the sleepless nights, the endless questions, the demands, the tidying up after them, the theft of my Auckland map and the scribbling on it. And you have to keep an eye on them all the time, or they get into everything.I never knew childhood would be so HARD.

4. For the last month, I’ve felt like I’ve been run over by a truck and dragged along behind it, then dipped in lightly whisked eggs and rolled down a hill strewn with glass before shooting off the top of a sheer cliff and plunging into a raging sea, then forced to sit and listen to Tom Cruise for four hours. (Note: this is largely speculative, since I’ve never met Tom Cruise so am not entirely sure what it’s like having to listen to him for four hours. However, I did watch Vanilla Sky i.e. I have a fair idea).

Some of the exhaustion is no doubt due to editing, parent-sitting and waging war on walruses. However, a large part is due to reasons I am not at liberty to divulge. I’m sorry; I hate being so coy. Wait, wait. I’ve just thought about that, and it turns out I don’t hate being coy at all. Au contraire, I LOVE being coy and regrettably I don’t have opportunity to exercise half enough despite having a unique talent for it.

The problem is that I hate other people being coy – especially on the Internet. While not in the same sort of league as avarice or sloth, it’s still an unattractive quality. You know like when you read someone’s blog, and they’re all: “So, I know something you don’t and – hey, guess what? I’m not going to tell you,” and you’re all, “Well, yanno, why bother saying anything at all? Why not just SHUT UP about it, you LOSER? I mean, who do you think GIVES A FRYING DUCK? I’LL TELL YOU WHO: NOBODY! YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT! AND I’LL TELL YOU SOMETHING ELSE – BECAUSE – UNLIKE SOME – I FOR ONE AM A DECENT, STRAIGHTFORWARD, CANDID TYPE OF PERSON: THAT’S THE LAST TIME I READ THIS CRAPFEST OF A BLOG.”

“COCK.”

Assuming that’s not just me, I truly hope you forgive me. Would it help if I called it ‘dramatic tension’?

No?

I will say: I’m not pregnant, no, nor suffering from some deadly or even medically recognised disease. Oh, here’s more: I haven’t been battling withdrawal symptoms from kicking my lifelong addiction to coffee – although you’d be getting closer.

Sorry, the coy crept in again there.

My life in a parallel universe

The last week has been a heady whirl of glamorous parties, premieres, photo shoots, and jet setting off to Monaco to sip truffle daiquiris on a super yacht with Caroline and the lads . . . No wait, that’s someone else’s life.

In mine, Husband returned and we spent the next three days making sweet sweet love when we weren’t enjoying candlelit dinners and floating candles on the balcony. Needless to say, we are not only exhausted, but also several kilos lardier! No wait, that’s not my life either – although it sounds like it should be only without the lard.

I’ve been busy writing my fifth runaway blockbuster, while engaged on an exhilarating schedule of global book tours, tv shows and – woah! Have I stumbled into a parallel universe? Hey – maybe it’s a future timeframe! Ooh, exciting. But in the meantime, I’ve been editing my second novel following feedback from my editor.

Two days after Husband arrived home, we embarked on an exciting round the world tour of many different, exotic locations to experience new things and see sights we had never seen before, like Niagara Falls.

Well, we flew down to see the Outlaws in Oamaru.

Close enough.

Today Jed and I were menaced by a herd of zombie cows.

Sadly, that one is true.

Large MIG welder

Reasons I haven’t posted in the last few days:-

  1. A tragic event involving an aerial canine stunt, a loaded whisky glass and my keyboard. 

    Blame has been duly attributed to my Stepfather In Law, Agent of Death. It may have been my keyboard, but the whisky was under his supervision at the time. So, allegedly, was his dog. Looking on the bright side, there were no fatalities.

    The morning after the incident, the q, a, z, w, s, x, e, d, r, f and spacebar keys did not respond.

    Unlike my Compaq Evo, which once copped about three times as much pineapple juice, Husband’s attempts to wipe off the whisky with a squeegee were unsuccessful. Luckily, Husband had a spare keyboard and mouse in his wallet, so that I could continue . . .

  2. Finishing the second draft of ‘About Time’.

    My editor has been ridiculously patient, but I set myself a deadline to complete it by last Thursday. Since my first two deadlines were not wholly successful, I was determined to hit this one.

    I emailed the manuscript at 11:40pm after working on it all day (plus most of the previous year).

    Three seconds later, I received an out of office notifier from my editor. Bum!

    But at least I had it finished before setting off on . . .

  3. The road trip home with Husband, Dog, and a large MIG welder.

Stay tuned

The two words that stand between me and literary genius

The second book should have been easier.

After all, it took seven years to complete Smart/Casual. That’s a fair apprenticeship. If I had trained as a doctor instead, I could be performing three open-heart surgeries a day by now.

That’s depressing.

Anyway, the second book. Obviously, it was going to be better – much better – than Smart/Casual. After all, I had made my mistakes. Not only that, I had LEARNED from these bitter lessons with detention and corporal punishment and the writing of hundreds of lines. My craft was honed to a fine point.

The key, I now knew, was planning.

Also, writing. (Quite important, that one.)

I would establish a routine. I favoured a Spartan model: austerity, abstinence, light diet. I would be a shining beacon of discipline.

So that went well.

Despite all my best efforts, I still swing between thinking About Time is:

a) so heinously awful it actually results in a net decrease in the amount of meaning present in the universe; or

b) a work of extraordinary literary genius, but for two words. One of which is ‘shinsplints’.

(Still can’t figure out what the other one is.)

Relativity

Last week I finished the first draft of About Time.

The pressure had been mounting for weeks.

At this point, it is worth bearing in mind that, everything being relative, our lives are comparatively stress-free. Right up there at the top of the Stress Scale is what to eat for breakfast, followed closely by when/where to go biking and whether I will get a flat tyre.

So I was totally unequipped for the extremes of anxiety leading up to The Deadline.

You will be glad to hear I epitomised grace under pressure. I was serene, confident and overflowing with gruntledness.

Regrettably – particularly for Husband – this physically manifested in an unpleasant shrillness of voice.

I am now waiting to hear back from my agent. Some might suggest that Peter does not pull his punches; others that he fights dirty.

I could not comment personally, since he might sue me for slander.

Also, see above.

I am, however, looking forward to his perspective (unfortunately, I misplaced mine). He will no doubt ask me to rewrite vast tracts of About Time – I’m guessing the last third, where I literally lost the plot – and it will be a better book for it.

I decided to take a week off and enjoy not having to write anything more creative than a shopping list. (Note: normally these are models of creativity with footnotes, appendices and surprising application of nouns. However, at the moment my shopping list consists of nothing more imaginative than mushrooms, ginger ale and scouring pads).

I am only just starting to feel half normal again.

Everything being relative.

Short and bitter

I would like to apologise for the trickle of blog posts lately. The reason for this is a mental cramp at the 80000 word mark on my second book.

People regularly ask how it is coming along. The most accurate response is a kind of hyperventilated scream. I suppose I’m getting there. The end is in sight. It is About Time. Not that I finish it – although I suppose you could say that if you were a particularly brusque sort of character – but the title.

Since there tends to be little creative energy left over for Deadlyjelly, I will steal from About Time and present to you, here, for the very first time, my favourite line from the entire book.

I am very proud of it and I sincerely hope you like it too.

Here it is:-

I took a moment to balance my fucking chi

Speaking of which, I’m going to go and do just that.

Please forgive me if my blog posts are short and sweet – or even short and bitter – for the next couple of weeks.

Normal reporting will commence soon.

x

Hymen Raider and the Penetrators

I need a name for a band that is beyond terrible.

In ‘About Time’, one of my characters plays in a grunge band in college. The band is more about volume than musical technique and suffers from anti-establishment aspirations. In case you need to get into character, he doesn’t wash much and is going through a swearing phase.

Here’s what I’ve come up with; I’d be grateful if you’d let me know which is your favourite, or feel free to out-gross me with an entirely new suggestion:-

[WARNING: !PROFANITY ALERT!]

1/ The Scary Fuckers
2/ Unstoppable Maggots
3/ The Impotent Barnacles
4/ The Turd-Sniffing Foetuses
5/ The Decapitated Anti Capitalists
6/ Hymen Raider and the Fucking Penetrators

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