Wine and Word-Wranglers

It’s Wednesday!  And therefore, time for my update on my next set of goals for this year.

I want to talk about other writers more.

When I started the blog, I intended to have regular reviews on a Wednesday (had a title for the segment and all, Wednesday Review).  But I quickly realised – actually, remembered – that I’m really not very good at reviews.  I always hated doing them at school and I hadn’t done one since, so I’m not sure why I thought it’s something I’d want to do on a regular basis.

I also ran into the problems that come with being a writer and talking about other writers.  Can I talk about people who are my friends without people thinking that it’s all just blarney?  What about if their work isn’t quite my cup of tea but I think it’s good and that other people will like it – how do I handle that?  And the rest.

The upshot of all of this was that I stopped talking about books pretty much altogether.  I wasn’t entirely happy about this as a principle, but it seemed easiest.

But this is a new year, and one in which I am determined not to succumb to ridiculous fears.  A life lived in fear is a life half-lived, as Fran says, in Strictly Ballroom.   So I determined to find a way to manage to talk about writing friends.

At the same time, I realised that I had been sadly neglecting the ‘Wine’ part of ‘Wine, Women and Wordplay’.

So… drumroll please… Wine and Word Wranglers was born!

From now on, on a regular basis, Wednesdays will feature a word-wrangler of my choice talking about their work, their lives and what form of beverage  they think best represents them and their work.

I am very taken with this notion, not least because it is alliterative and we all know how much I love alliteration.  But it also gave me an excuse to think about how I would describe my own writing through the medium of alcohol.

I have decided that I am (or rather, I hope my books are) like a sparkling red wine.

Fun, sparkling, spritzig on the palate and a teeny bit frivolous, but with deeper notes that linger after the fizz is gone.  Unusual, a little surprising, but very tasty. 😉

I hope we’ll all have fun with it!

I will also be continuing and expanding my Wednesday Work in Progress posts. I seem always to be researching, and I’d love to share a bit more of that with you.

When I can cajole people who are better at it into reviews, we’ll have them too, and I’ll still keep up the Wednesday Whatever category for when things get freeform (as they are wont to do, chez Evans).

What do you think?  If you were a drink, what would you be?

We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan: or why I think we all need a cup of tea and a good lie down


"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
  One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
  Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
  As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
  "Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
  Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
  With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
  And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
  "It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  "Before the year is out."

The above is an excerpt from ‘Said Hanrahan’, by Australian poet John O’Brien.  You can find the whole thing (and the rest of the book it came from, Around the Boree Log and other Verses) here.

So why am I quoting poetry, you ask?  Well, you see last weekend, I was flipping through the paper and I came across a piece in which the writer was bemoaning the agony of leaving books in bookstores.  Just like puppies at the pet store, he wanted to take them all home and he worried that the rejected ones would feel sad and abandoned once he left.

So far so good.  I’m sure we’ve all felt like that.

But then he went on to talk about the vast quantities of books, both e-books and paper, flooding the market now and how it was impossible to keep up with them and to choose from so many and  people were self-publishing and you couldn’t tell whether they were any good and… stuff like that.  My eyes started to glaze over and I lost the will to keep reading.  I may have even made a rude noise.

Because I’m tired of hearing it.

Not just this particular piece of doom and gloom about publishing, but all of it.  It seems, no matter where I look these days, blogs, papers, online columns, wherever, if the subject is books or publishing, someone wants to tell me the sky is falling.  Bookshops are closing, publishing is dead, quality is history, the gatekeepers are lost, physical books will soon be no more, art is pandering to the lowest common denominator, literature is going to hell in a handbasket, yada, yada, yada.

You know what?


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Wednesday Writer Rave: Alliance Forged

I have a bone to pick with Kylie Griffin.

I am writing like a mad thing at the moment, in the lead up to the Romance Writer’s of Australia Conference in August.  Much as I hate to limit myself in this way, I don’t have time just now to get sucked into the TBR pile.

Then Alliance Forged dropped into my lap, courtesy of a pre-order with the Book Depository.

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The Lucky Seven Strikes Wine Women and Wordplay

The lovely Juliet Madison, writing buddy and fellow member of RWA, has tagged me to take part in “The Lucky Seven.”

The challenge: Post seven lines from an unpublished work of fiction.

The Golden Rules:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog or Facebook page the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
  • Tag 7 other authors to do the same

Since I am congenitally incapable of refusing a challenge – and it sounded amusingly random – I am in.

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Wanna Write? Make friends with the Romance Writers

First, I must crave your indulgence for a little skite:

Yesterday morning, Helene Young, multi-award-wining author, tweeted a link to one of my blog posts.

A few weeks ago, Valerie Parv, whose books have been printed in their millions and who is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writer’s Centre in Western Australia, quoted something I said in a post on ‘show, don’t tell‘ in a tweet.

Both of these events made my day.  When established, skilled writers like these take the trouble to read your posts, comment and then be nice about them, it’s an enormous boost.  It’s the kind of thing you hold up as the candle to light your way through the darkness of the days when you think you can’t write an acceptable shopping list.

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Monday’s Writing Links: Or why I have a love/hate relationship with the internet

A month ago, I started to blog and get more involved with the whole social media/online writing community thing.

I love it.  I do.  I love talking about my interests, I love seeing what other people are doing, I love learning from their blog posts (so many people offering so much good stuff!) I love ‘meeting’ new friends on FB and Twitter and getting to know old ones better.

But… it can chew into the real writing time, which I really have to watch.

And there’s another issue I hadn’t expected.  A couple of times recently, I have left the house to go the shops or something equally mundane and felt like a mole or other underground thing, blinking my way into the light.  As though the physical world was a novelty.  This is a little scary.  I love my online community, but I need to nourish my real-life one too.  Maybe it’s time for a face-to-face writing group?

How do you handle the siren draw of the online world?  Please tell me, I really want to know!  But while you’re here, here are some cool writing links!

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Wednesday Review is Dead, Actually

Dead, Actually, the new young adult novel by the lovely Kaz Delaney, is the subject of today’s review, and since Kaz is a mate of mine, I thought I should invite someone else to do the review.

So today’s review is courtesy of my Sekrit Squirrels Helper (or SSH, for short) guest YA reviewer, who is not only impartial, but also in the novel’s target demographic.  If you like her review, please say so in the comments, so I can inveigle her into doing more!

Dead, Actually
Willow Cartwright: D-Lister by choice.
She’s about to find out what lies beneath the
tans and tinsel of the A-list, in a wickedly funny story
of blackmail, scams – and swoonworthy crushes.

In  Dead Actually, Kaz Delaney follows Willow Cartwright, a teen from the Gold Coast whose life has recently fallen into a shambles. Her family is completely dysfunctional, her adopted brother is a creepy liar out to steal her parents’ money, she has a huge crush on her best friend’s (Macey Pentecost) older brother, (Seth) and to top it all off, the dead Queen Bee of Ruth Throsby High, who happened to see Willow last before dying, is haunting her bedroom.

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Monday on Writing: Catch of the Day, or Cool Links for Writers

Since I have been doing this blogging thing, I have realised how many other good blogs there are out there, with great content for writers.  So today I am starting what will probably be a regular feature on Monday on Writing, a list of some of the best things I’ve found in my recent travels.  So, without further ado, here is today’s catch:

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Australian Women Writers Rock: Read Any Good Books Lately?

Wednesday Review is springing gleefully onto the Australian Women Writers Challenge bandwagon, trombone in hand!*

For those not familiar with the Challenge, the point of it, from the organiser’s point of view, is as follows (taken from the challenge website):

This challenge hopes to help counteract the gender bias in reviewing and social media newsfeeds that occurred throughout 2011 by actively promoting the reading and reviewing of a wide range of contemporary Australian women’s writing.

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The Divine Miss Fisher on TV

Photo from ABC TV's Miss Fisher's Murder MysteriesFor my first Wednesday Review, it is my great pleasure to introduce the glorious, the dazzling, Miss Phryne Fisher.  Although, really, I don’t know why I’m bothering.  Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee) doesn’t stand on ceremony.  By the time I’ve finished typing she will probably have introduced herself.

Phryne Fisher is the creation of much-published and much-loved Melbourne author Kerry Greenwood.  She made her first appearance in Cocaine Blues in 1989 and has been in print ever since.  Since then, she has starred in 16 more full-length mysteries and one book of short stories.

She is now, in the form of the glamorous and talented Essie Davis, starring in a sumptuous new ABC TV Production, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which airs at 8.30pm Fridays EST and after that, on the ABC’s iView.*
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