Some music for the mid-week slump

Sometimes, whether it’s mid-week, mid-day or mid-life, you need a lift.

Music is one of my favourite lifters and recently, I have been delighted to discover  Postmodern Jukebox.  Their specialty is covers of modern songs in older styles – and man, do they have style!

I’ve included some of my favourites here, but there is whole rabbit hole full of others on youtube.  Make yourself a cuppa and go try a few.  There are links underneath the videos to buy recordings if you want them on your playlist.

Enjoy!

I can’t tell you how much I love this.  Actually I can.  I’m learning it and intend to include it in my future cabaret act!

The Star Wars arrangement alone is worth the price of admission, but Sarah Reich is fantastic!

Sadly, I can’t do an Andres-sisters-style number by myself, otherwise this might be on the list to learn too!

There is something appropriate about ‘Thrift Shop’ being done in a vintage style!

And finally, All About That Bass with harmonies and actual bass!

 

Home is the traveller!

I’m back! Back from Perth, back from the quite fabulous Riding the Waves Conference, put on by the Romance Writers of Australia and I’m finally getting around to telling you how it was.

(Just quietly, who ARE these people, who manage to get blog posts up WHILE THEY ARE STILL AT CONFERENCE?  Clearly people who spend less time in the bar than I do.)

So, I went to the conference and it was fab.  I cannot go any further without thanking and congratulating the quite marvellous ALL VOLUNTEER conference team, who put on such a great show.  I always enjoy the RWA conference, but this was definitely one of my favourites.Selfie at conf cropped  There are too many people to thank individually and I would hate to forget anyone, but I’d like to do a special shout out to Shannon and her Mum who came up from Bunbury to help us out.  You guys helped to make my conference!

I am terrible at taking photos (as in, I forget to do it, not I’m a terrible photographer, although probably that too! 😉 ), so I only have a few.

I’ve included this one as it is a watershed moment – my very first selfie!  (My teen friends have informed me that it is a little lame to take a selfie in a mirror, but what can I say?  I’m rocking lame!)

This was me, prepared to go to the Friday night cocktail party, complete with pirate hat, to identify me as a conference-newbie helper.  I am wearing sunglasses, not because I drank rather a lot of champagne the night before a the Destiny Romance first birthday party (although I did, it cannot be denied) but because they always live on my head and I had to move them to put on the hat.  Yes, really.  In the picture below (at the cocktail party) I seem to have found somewhere to put them, but it’s also possible that they were just knocked off by the awesomeness of Cap’n Jack.JOHNNY

I am frantically busy finishing some projects at the moment, so I won’t go into detail about all the fabulous workshops I went to here (I will be expounding on some of the things I learned in future posts, so stay tuned for that).

But I can’t leave without mentioning two visitors I met who impressed me very much.

The first is Kim Hudson, who presented the Friday workshop on The Virgin’s Promise, her quite wonderful re-imagining of story structure.  Many parts of me are delighted by her work.  My latent academic is excited by the thoroughness of her analysis and the way she has shaped it into a proper theory.  The Hero’s Journey is a wonderful tool and it has been recognised as such for so long that it is very easy to think it’s the only way of looking at story.  But of course, it isn’t and work like this can start a whole new conversation about story and archetype that has far-reaching implications for how we see ourselves and our lives, as well as how we see stories.

The storyteller in me is also thrilled by a whole new approach to what makes story.  And the writer in me can see a whole swag of ways to use this practically in planning and deepening written stories.

So that was fun!  Also, Kim is an absolute doll whose presence was a joy.  A gifted presenter and a lovely person.

The other person I must mention is Sarah Wendell, from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  I have been a fan (along with thousands of others) of her smart, snarky, funny website and reviews, dedicated to romance, ever since I discovered them and in person she did not disappoint.  She is whip smart, very funny, a wonderful presenter, a generous and genuine supporter of romance and a barrel of fun.  I didn’t make it to all her workshops but I loved the ones I did and very much enjoyed the re-enactment of her session on romance clichés that went on in the bar afterwards (there were actions, apparently).  I had the pleasure of chatting with her a little at the conference and meeting her again in Melbourne at an event hosted by Penguin here.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was that, at the second function, she remembered my name.  There were over 300 people (most of them women) at that conference and I bet she spoke to a fair swag of them over the weekend.  I don’t suffer from false modesty, but nor do I imagine myself to be particularly fascinating.  To be remembered was delightful, of course, but also seriously flipping impressive.  The lady is a pro.  If you like romance at all and don’t already follow Smart Bitches, do yourself a favour and start!

As always, it was also a joy to see so many friends both old and those I previously only knew online.  Always fun to see who matches their avatar!

There’s so much more to say, but not enough time!  I’ll be back as soon as deadlines allow.  In the meantime, don’t forget that Playing by the Rules is coming out September 15.  There’s a link to its page at the top right of this page and that’s where you’ll find all the buy links as soon as they’re available.

So – what have you been up to while I’ve been gallivanting?

I pinched this picture of the Destiny trade table at the conf from the Destiny facebook page, because I didn't think to take a picture of my own book!  PR fail!

I pinched this picture of the Destiny trade table at the conf from the Destiny facebook page, because I didn’t think to take a picture of my own book!
(Front, third from left, if you’re looking.) PR fail!

 

 

 

More Unexpected Joys… (and the purple end of a rainbow snake)

It’s been a week of delightful surprises.  On Wednesday I introduced you to the charming, talented Lucy Spraggan.

She’s clever and funny and I couldn’t think of who to compare her to, until I thought of another of my all-time favourite singer/songwriters, Kristina Olsen.

This song, performed with her favourite performing buddy, Australian cellist Peter Grayling, should show you why she’s a favourite…

I hope Lucy goes on to create such a body of work and give as much joy as Kristina has!

Another unexpected joy was my lovely friend Resa’s latest creation.  She has been doing a series of ‘art gowns’ and her latest is almost too gorgeous to describe.  It’s old Hollywood in a new fabric and never has a dressmaker’s model looked so magnificent!

Then there was this: a love story with no words in a little over six minutes.  Black and white, charming, old-school animation that delighted my eyes and lifted my heart, from the very talented people at Disney.

Finally, I have actually followed through on my commitment of last week, which was to get out my knitting and have made some progress on the rainbow snake.  This is the violet and indigo end (obviously) and I’m sure you can see why I had to have the variegated yarn as well, even though it has doubled the knitting involved.  It’s not the best picture, (I’m never getting a job as a stylist) but I thought I should show you the beginnings, so I can do progress posts.

The unexpected part of this was how much I enjoyed doing it.  It’s calming and somehow rejuvenating to be achieving something while just sitting.  Much better than ‘just’ watching TV or, in the case of last night, my girl’s Karate class.

I hope you’ve had some unexpected joys this week too.  Here’s to celebrating them!

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Unexpected joys

I was all set to write a post about the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice – but it will have to wait.  Because last night (that will be a joke in a minute, wait and see) a young friend showed me this video:

And I LOVED it.  This adorable 20-year-old is so clever and talented and FUNNY!  There are few things I like better than funny.  As Lizzie Bennett would say, (note P&P reference!) I dearly love to laugh.  Make me laugh and you’re half-way there.  Half-way where, you ask?  Pretty much anywhere, frankly.  I am absolutely going to learn this song (have I mentioned that I sing?) because I think it will knock ’em dead as a party piece.  My friends are mostly past this stage, but not so far that we don’t remember.  Get a few wines into ’em and I reckon they’ll be joining in in no time.

Anyway, so impressed was I by this young lady that I watched a few more of her videos.  Which is how I came across this one:

And this one made me cry.  I was sitting at my desk, surrounded by mess I need to clean up, almost hyperventilating about all the things I need to do this month (writing! tax! deadlines! eek!) and this song made me stop, forget all of that and cry.  Can a creator ask more than that?  If what I write can do that – take people out of their lives for a bit, have a laugh, have a cry, make them forget their troubles for a bit – I will be very, very happy.

I also like this one, a bit of musical philosophising:

Lucy is on Twitter and Facebook, if you want to follow what she gets up to.  I’m a little late to the Lucy party, it seems, but I have always adhered to ‘better late than never’ – especially when it comes to talent!  And in case you hadn’t found her yet either, I just wanted to share my unexpected Wednesday joy!

Have you found anything that surprised and delighted you lately?

Crafty schemes

Close up of knitted pink yarn with a pair of knitting needles

I realised just yesterday that, what with all the excitement over the ARRA award finalist thing, I forgot to finish out my goals for the year.

What, more, I hear you say?  Aren’t those lists long enough, missy?  Are we kidding ourselves about what we can do?  (Or is that me I can hear?)

It’s possible that I’m getting ahead of myself, but these goals aren’t writing ones.  They’re crafty ones.  I really like certain crafty pastimes and the main reason I don’t do them more often is that when they’re put away neatly I get busy with other things and I forget about them.

If you are a terribly organised and diligent person, you may find this hard to believe, but let me tell you, for me, it’s quite possible.  Indeed, it would be fair to say that I have elevated the practice into an art form.  The incredibly ambitious hand-knitted two metre-long snake I started last year and haven’t progressed very far on could be put down to biting off more than I could chew.  But the embroidery that I started for a friend before my daughter was born is definitely proof, should proof be needed. (For non regular readers, the same daughter has written book reviews for this very blog.  I rest my case, I park my valise, I demonstrate my procrastination beyond doubt).

So I thought this year I would make a few plans and see if I can remind myself of my crafty projects more often.  It’s not really that I don’t have time.  I could watch less TV, or indeed, do some of them while watching TV.

So, without further ado, here’s what I would like to get onto this year.  I will:

  • Finish the aforementioned embroidery.  If I fail, I think the poor may have to get it and they may not want it!
  • Finish the ridiculous snake, or at least get half-way through the rainbow. (It’s a rainbow snake and I have a ball of wool for each colour and multi-coloured ones to go in between, because I thought it would be prettier. Shut up.)
  • Knit up a couple of small rainbow snakes which were what disappointed my friend in the first place when she bought them in kit form and caused me to begin the ridiculous one.

Not necessarily in that order!

I would also like to do some scrapbooking, as that is a whole separate category of unfinished business, but I won’t put that on the list just yet.  I’ll see that as a bonus!

Do you have any crafty plans you’d like to get on with this year?

Note re the photo: Because I ran out of time to take pics of the snake, the photo above is from Microsoft Clip Art (click on the pic for link).  For that site and a heap of other free photo sites, check out Jonathan Gunson’s blog post on the subject.

A Furniture Frenzy!

I am confessing right here right now to you, by dear blog readers, that I am in a frenzy.  A furniture frenzy.

We’re getting a pool table you see – or a billiards table, or snooker table, if that’s how you roll (we’re getting ALL THE BALLS!).

(Gratuitous Music Man clip, as this song is an all-time favourite. We’ve got Trouble!)

Now, since we don’t live in an enormous house, this has involved moving of furniture, getting rid of furniture, chucking out of untold amounts of stuff and general enormous upheaval for the last few days.  I am physically broken.  My back is twanging, I seem to have a permanent cramp in my right calf and there is dust in my hair.

(I also seem to have lost all sense of proportion, since the way that sentence was structured, it seems the dust is the most important issue.  Anyway…)

As a result of all of this, I get to BUY TWO NEW PIECES OF FURNITURE!  In addition to the billiards table, which is already ordered.

My lust for real estate is equalled only by my near-orgasmic adoration for buying furniture.  Not randomly, you understand.  I’m not that kind of girl!  But furniture to fill a specific job, that fits and is just the thing… put it this way, if you could feel the way it makes me feel, you’d want furniture too.

So, it’s a short post today, because I am going out in search of furniture.  The girl shall be dragged along.  There will certainly be a stop for coffee and possibly cake.  Later, there will be photos.

Oh happy day!

Do you have anything fun planned for today?

Oh, just thought I should add, for Aust and NZ readers, today is the last day of the special on all the Destiny Romance titles, including Rules are for Breaking. If you’ve been meaning to get to it, don’t delay!