Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekend Rewind - Special Wedding Edition

So I watched the wedding. Worried about whether Pippa would make it up the steps without falling over her fishtail frock (great dress but, seriously, will she be able to wear it again?). Wondered whether Harry was channelling the great Biebs with that hairdo. Wished I could read lips so that I could share all those little asides between the (now) royal couple.

Say what you like, but it was lovely to see all those Brits wave their flags and wear their funny hats with pride. Speaking of hats, was that parade of hats into the Abbey among the most ridiculous you've ever seen? Then again, what would you wear to a Royal Wedding? Talk about dress stress...

Now that the last pieces of red, white and blue confetti have hit the dust, it's time to get back to the important things in life, like Weekend Rewind. The basics remain the same: follow the Fibro if we are not already friends, link up an old post from your archives to give it a good airing, and please remember to visit as many other linkers as possible to share the comment love. One small thing, it would be very good if your post was at least a day older than today. Weekend Rewind is an archive linky. We're not big on ceremony (though we do love a bit of pomp), but we do like people to play along like they mean it.


The theme for this week's mixed tape is, of course, weddings. But I draw a loose bow. If you have a post about a ceremony, a relationship, some love, link it up. Heck, even bunting will do. I love bunting. You might even say I'm grateful for bunting (wink). Posts about bunting are more than acceptable. Our theme song for the week: White Wedding by Billy Idol, in honour of Pippa Middleton, best-looking bridesmaid in Britain. "Hey little sister, what have you done?..."

Okay. That's it. Ready, set, Rewind!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From blog to book - via Twitter

Good things come to those who Tweet. Just ask Kerri Sackville, author of new book When My Husband Does The Dishes... (Random House), launched today in Sydney. A freelance writer with an impressive list of credits across newspapers and magazines, Kerri stumbled onto Twitter at a bad time in her life. Tweeting led to blogging (Life And Other Crises) which led to her book being published. Pretty much the dream run of many modern-day writers. So how did it happen? You know I just had to ask for this month's writer's Q&A...

Were you thinking of writing a book when you started your blog?
Kerri Sackville: "No! Not at all. I was just excited to be writing again. I'd stumbled onto Twitter after a really bad time in my life had resulted in 18 months of writer's block. After a few weeks on Twitter, several dozen people (okay, one person...) had asked if I had a blog. I thought, 'Hey, a chance to write about Nutella and Simon Baker!', and so I started one."

How did the book come about?
KS: "After I'd been blogging for about nine months, I was full of ideas and decided to write a tell-all memoir of marriage and motherhood. When I was about halfway through, an agent approached me via Twitter after hearing I was writing a book. We met, she liked what I'd done, I was thrilled to bits, and she took me on. By the time I'd finished WMHDTD she had a few publishers interested and in the end we sold it to Random House for $20 million*." (*Kerri admits she may have made this figure up.)

Did you find the process of writing the book very different to blogging?
KS: "Yes, definitely. I write my blog posts very quickly and then pretty much forget them. And I wrote the first draft of the book pretty quickly too and had lots of fun doing it. But then I reread and restructured and rewrote and reread and restructured and rewrote and that was really, really hard work. By the time it was finished, I was well and truly ready to send it on! I would never put that much effort into a blog post."

You often write on your blog on intimate subjects (that is, your sex life) - did it feel very different when you put them in a book (and then read the printed page once published)?
KS: "Yes! I wasn't at all prepared for the permanence of it all! A blog post feels very transient - you put it up, people read it, but then within a minute they're on to the next thing. And a blog post can be altered or deleted at any time. But a book... Once it's written, it's there forever. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around it. I will never forget walking into a meeting of 20 Random House publishing staff and they'd all read my book and knew about my marriage. And I thought, okay, this might actually be really weird."

What's next? Will you continue to blog consistently or focus on other types of writing?
KS: "I love my blog and my blog readers - I can't imagine ever giving that up unless something dramatic happens, like I'm  offered the lead role in the Hollywood adaptation of my book, or Simon Baker wants to take me on as his private secretary. But I have been so excited by the process of writing and publishing a book, and I've started writing my second (which is NOT on marriage or motherhood - I've pretty much exhausted those topics!). So stay tuned..."

Check out Kerri's hilarious blog here, buy a copy of her fab book here and stalk her on Twitter at @KerriSackville (I do!).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's Elementary, my dear Mr7

Mr7 has a new love. Gone are the days of wands and wizards and Accio Teddy Bear! Harry Potter has been put back on the shelf, ready to be resurrected when Mr7 is old enough to tackle the grumpy Harry of books 4-7. Instead, he has pulled on a Hawker hat and dragged the magnifying glass out of his old Explorer's kit.

Mr7 has discovered Mr Holmes - and it's love at first sight.

It all began with The Baker Street Boys. I have been desperately seeking out a new series of books to capture his attention and wean him off Harry, Ron, Hermione et al. It has required that I read a whole selection of children's books myself (which has been quite an education in itself) looking for titles that are challenging and yet age-appropriate.

After some consultation with J, the lovely children's librarian at the Fibrotown library, I came home with The Ranger's Apprentice (which I loved, but Mr7 did not), Emily Rodda's Key to Rondo (jury still out), something about The Magnificent 12 (nobody was too keen), the first book in The 39 Clues (looked good but Mr7 found scary) and The Case of The Ranjipur Ruby, one of Anthony Read's Baker Street Boys series. Once he got his head around the old-fashioned setting and some of the language, he was hooked. To the point where he immediately began searching out Sherlock Holmes stories.

Once again the Fibrotown library provided - abridged versions of Holmes classics. Is there nothing you cannot find at a public library?

It's not his first foray into the joys of mystery novels. The Famous Five and The Secret Seven are old friends, as is Encylopedia Brown. But, as any grown-up fan knows, Holmes is the original and the best. I asked Mr7 why he liked him so much. "I like the mysteries - and he's really, really smart, Mum." What's not to love?

And so we sat together tonight and began reading A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes story ever published, brought home today in the illustrated version from the school library. Being an old Holmes hand by now, Mr7 was thrilled at the references in the introduction to the Baker Street Boys, The Red-headed League and other classic Holmes stories. He's putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

I confess that I was worried that the central tenet of the opening chapter is a dead body lying in a room. But he was unperturbed by this. "It's just a story, Mum," he said. Indeed, the setting, the old-fashioned politeness, the language and his own sheer lack of worldliness make such stories seem less real to him than Star Wars or Harry Potter. Despite this, The Builder and I have decided that A Study in Scarlet is not age-appropriate and have put it on the shelf marked 'later', alongside Harry Potter  - it seems that I'll be speed-reading my way through several Holmes stories in the near future looking for those that are not too dark and dire (all suggestions gratefully received).

I can understand why he likes them. A classic story is a classic story, no matter what your age or time zone. And, as any fan of mystery or crime novels will tell you, the joy is not just in solving the puzzle, but in the triumph of good over evil at the end.

Holmes always wins. It's elementary.

What are your kids enjoying reading at the moment?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Left on the shelf

In my kitchen, there is a shelf. I have seen such shelves in other people's kitchens, usually photographed in glossy interiors magazines. In those pictures, such shelves are clean, horizontal spaces, used to denote the transition from one section of an open-plan space to another, without the need for anything so unsightly as walls. In those pictures, such shelves are adorned with one witty fruit bowl, often overflowing with piles of unseasonal lemons or limes (see left).

In my kitchen, there is a shelf. I know it's there because I've seen it. When we moved in. Since that time, it has been buried under an avalanche of family detritus. Or 'an eclectic layer of adornment' if you like the interiors-speak better. Pencils and textas (but never a working pen when you need one). A thermometer to poke in sick children's ears. Keys. A Tupperware catalogue that I forgot to order from. Two DVDs that I forgot to return to the shop. Those children's artworks that are not destined to be treasured forever but must spend their time at the holding station before being recycled lest said children think that we do not love them. Three funky orange canisters that have never held anything. A shiny copper jam pan with a witty fruit bowl stuck inside it because there is not room on the shelf for both. Admittedly, there are some lemons in said fruit bowl - but they are withered and stale because I forgot to use them. It's hard to see them under all that adornment.

Every once in a while, I clear off this shelf, leaving it bare but for the funky canisters and the weird jam pan arrangement. Within minutes, it has started attracting a new layer of adornment.

In your kitchen, is there such a shelf?

[image: 22BayRoad/etsy]

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another post about The Last Post

I was sitting here, preparing to write a post about ANZAC Day. Day of remembering. We watched the parade at Mum and Dad's house, kids waving flags from the driveway. Then I remembered that it was pretty much a carbon copy of last year, so I scrolled back to read what I'd written. You know what? I really liked it. It says everything I want to say. So I'm saying it again.

Today was ANZAC Day. Day of Remembrance. Day of marching. Day of The Last Post.
The Last Post is one of the saddest pieces of music ever written. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Particularly when played inexpertly at school assemblies. There is something about the random squeaks and blasts produced by a teenage bugler that conjures up for me the endless baby faces of young soldiers.

The bugle at Mr6’s school ANZAC Day service last Thursday (Friday was a dreaded Pupil-Free Day so we had to get in early) was played by a young man from the local high school. He had the windswept supermodel hair that defines his generation, an earnest expression and a bit of difficulty with the high notes. He reduced me to blinking back tears.

Beside me, on the asphalt, behind the colony of school hats carefully paying attention under the principal’s nose, was an elderly gentleman. Someone’s Grandfather. Who stood to attention through the entire service. Stiff, upright, proud.

He reduced me to tears proper.

Today we took the boys and some friends visiting from The Big Smoke over to my mum’s house to watch the march. Every parade of any description for the past 30 years has stomped past my parents’ house. Our friend C remarked that she’d never actually been to an ANZAC Day parade that went past someone’s house before. In the city, it requires two train changes and a packed lunch to attend the march. Here, we munched on homemade ANZAC biscuits in the driveway and waved to the veterans as they went past – many of them in taxis.

One of the reasons that I love ANZAC Day is those beaming faces in those taxis. It’s the one day of the year when our oldest citizens feel all the warmth our community can bestow. When we remember that they were young once. I know that the Day is about remembering fallen soldiers, but I love that it’s also about remembering (and acknowledging) the ones that survived.

Afterwards, we retired to the Fibro for a barbecue. We had a few drinks, ate some sausages, shared some stories and lots of laughs. The children rampaged around the garden like Wild Things. After a few wines, I found myself wondering if perhaps we shouldn’t be a little more… reverent.

But then I thought, no. What were all those young men fighting for if not for their children and their children’s children to enjoy the freedom of an afternoon just like the one we enjoyed today.

Lest we forget.

This year, there were fewer smiling faces waving from taxis. There were, however, many more school children marching (well, approximating marching) up the street. Solemn little faces doing their best to honour the memories of our Diggers. Right before they reverted to Wild Things. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekend Rewind - Easter edition

It's an early Rewind this week, and we'll be staying late. Opening today and staying open until Monday night (Aussie time). A holiday kind of rewind. Dip in and dip out at your leisure. I fully intend to do so.

The drill remains the same. Follow the Fibro if we are not already friends and then drag an old post from your archives for some new comment love. The beauty of the Rewind is that it allows classic posts a chance to shine once more, so if you've written something you love, here's your chance to give it another run. Don't forget to visit as many other linkers as you can to share the warm, friendly, Weekend Rewind love around.

I was contemplating a theme for this week's Rewind and decided on 'New'. New life. New love. New car. New beginning. New Kids on the Block. New Order. You can see that this one will be a mixed tape indeed.

That's it. I'll be back on Monday night/Tuesday with regular programming and will be sure to visit everyone who links up here. To get you started, I'm sharing my Excursion to New Frontiers.

Ready? Set? Rewind!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Days like these

I'm not happy today. I'm tired and grumpy and fussy and fidgety. My poor children who are good children and who behave admirably for children were on the receiving end of my grumps today. Nothing serious, just a general lack of, well, interest. They were fed and watered and bathed and kissed and cuddled, but no playing. Not today.

I don't mind telling you that I dislike myself on days like this. I hear myself telling Mr7 that I'm no good at Lego and he's better off building his emergency rescue boat without me. I hear myself telling Mr4 that I'm not interested in playing firemen. The boardgames remain in the cupboard. The book that Mr7 and I are writing stays in the drawer.

Not today.

I wonder if this will be their overwhelming memory of me as a mum. They won't remember that yesterday they dressed up in their firemen gear and we made a movie together: Fireman Sam and Station Officer Sam and The Great Tent Fire (it's an action thriller). Not today.

They'll just remember me saying no.

There's no real reason for my grumps. The usual weight of deadlines/lack of time conundrum. The waiting that seems to have taken over my life. The small matter of a book that needs finishing and just, well, isn't. None of it their fault.

The trouble with family is that we feel so loved and so comfortable with them that we can be ourselves. The rest of the world gets the best of us. Our family sees the worst. When it is they who deserve our very, very best.

Fortunately, the boys are forgiving types. And I am full of resolve to do better. Which I will.


[image: I love this Dreams For Your Child print from HarperGrace/etsy]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How do you clean your house?

I clean the Fibro one day at a time. Which means that it's rarely all clean at the same time. I do the bathroom one day. The bedrooms the next. The floors as rarely as I can get away with. Every day, the living room gets a general tidy and the washing up gets done. But sparkling from top to bottom is not something the poor old Fibro gets to experience that often.

Unless we're having people to dinner. Or to stay. Then it's all hands on deck for a thorough cleaning frenzy. We even remove the Scalectrix-style race track from the dining table for the guests. We have standards.

I do wonder if I'm going at it all wrong with this piecemeal effort. But it makes it all feel less arduous. A bit here, a bit there. Squeezed in when I'm trying to avoid work through my writing. Much better than four hours in a row.

And, yes, I could get a cleaner. But I just know that I'd be one of those sad folk who clean for the cleaner. I'd rather live with the knowledge of that than the reality.

How do you clean? Bits and pieces or all in one hit?


PS: Maxabella has been nominated in the People's Choice Awards for the Sydney Writers' Centre's Best Australian Blogs 2011 Competition - she needs praise and love and votes. Go visit her. She'll tell you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boys and haircuts: the good, the bad and the Bieber

I'm on a bit of a roll this week with the boy posts, but one must go with what one knows and all that. Today I took the Misters for their annual regular haircut. I use the word 'regular' in the sense of 'not very often'. I am hopeless with haircuts. Just ask my Mum. She'll tell you. She calls Mr7 Margaret Pomeranz, not due to his overwhelming knowledge of film and ability to say 'you must be joking David' in a very polite manner, but due to his fringe. Which is spectacular, it's true, and not in an intentional Justin Bieber kind of way.

Mr7 has a double crown, enormous amounts of hair and just enough curl to make things go horribly wrong on a regular basis. His teen years are not going to be easy. Mr4 has a double crown, enormous amounts of hair and no curl to speak of - his hair hangs like a sheet or sticks up like a lion's mane, there is no in between.

The right haircut makes a big difference.

Despite my instincts, which are to put a number three trimmer over the lot, we persist in our quest for The Right Haircut. The Builder, with fond memories of his own Pat Rafter locks of not so long ago, likes a bit of length. I just want something that will sit right and not result in tears in the morning due to knots (Mr7 is a wild sleeper with coarse hair, not a great combo).

My conversations with hair stylists go something like this: "Blah blah double crown, blah blah sticks up, blah blah dragged through a hedge backwards." They seem to hear only the last bit and both boys end up with haircuts that would make a hedge dweller proud. Fortunately, this look is on-trend. They can be cool, despite the fact that their mum has no idea.

So far there have been no requests for 'product', but this can only be a matter of time. Never Say Never, and all that...

In the meantime, I'm off to study whatever it is that I need to study to get an idea of what to do with boys' hair before their next haircut (next school holidays, in case you were wondering). Anyone got any ideas or inspiration?

[image: mymovieposter]

Sunday, April 17, 2011

He'll be all right... won't he?

I've been thinking a lot about boys lately. In a motherly kind of way. As opposed to the way I used to think about them when I was, say, 16. Actually, perhaps not that different. I was born 40 after all (just ask my Mum).

A little while ago, a friend handed me Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph to read. I have read it before. In that 'I've got to interview the author in ten minutes, what will I ask him?' kind of frenzy. But I did not have two little boys at the time. This time, I'm having a long hard look at it. I can, for example, vouch for the testosterone boost at four. I have now experienced it twice. It's big.

Being a mother of boys brings its own challenges. I remember once thinking that I'd got off lightly. I knew what I was like as a little girl, and then as a teenager, and figured that if I never had to deal with another me I was doing all right.

What I hadn't factored in was the sheer boyishness of boys. And young men. This has been brought home to me not once, not twice, but three times in the last few days.

I was driving my two out to visit some friends in a nearby town on Thursday. I had pulled left, out of the overtaking lane, and was debating the origins of The Wand of Destiny with Mr7 with one eye on the right lane that I needed to get back into within 50 or so metres. In my side mirror, I watched a car pull out into that lane, and zoom past me at well over 120km an hour - just to get in front of me. Within a whisker of the back of the senior citizen doing 90km.

P plater. Four young men in the car. As we continued on up the highway, me behind them, the guy in the back right-hand seat proceeded to open the back door and pretend to get out. At 100km an hour.


On Saturday night, The Builder and I attended a 50th birthday party. Old friends of The Builder. A tight, close-knit circle of people who'd all grown up in the same suburb. He was the little brother who was drawn into the circle as he got older.

The 21-year-old son of the birthday boy pulled his Bieber-esque fringe back to reveal the huge, right-angled scar that went from the middle of his forehead, right back up along his hairline. He had dived into the shallow end of a pool after a few drinks and smashed his head into the tiles. We both agreed that he wouldn't be doing that again. We both agreed that he was lucky.


I had a long chat with another of the circle. His son was injured 18 months ago. Lighting the firework that he was holding in his own hand. He will never be the same again, but his father spoke with obvious pride of his progress. He is back at work. He is driving. He is closer to his parents than he has ever been. All of them wish that one moment, that one decision, had never happened.


"Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems." That has been the sage advice that the Birthday Boy has given The Builder and I every time we get together and discuss our kids. He and his mates, all a bit wild in their youth, are also firm believers in allowing boys the freedom to learn their lessons. Some of those lessons are hard. Harder than I can bear to think about. Particularly given that 'No', 'Stop', 'Don't', and 'You'll hurt yourself' are among my favourite phrases.

This afternoon, my two boys wrapped themselves in cellophane strips and proceeded to 'Cowabunga, Dude' a path of destruction around the Fibro. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the heroes du jour. Noisy, messy, physical.


They'll be all right... Won't they?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Rewind

How quickly the Rewind rolls around. Even during the school holidays - longest weeks of the year. I'm in the middle of my footy tipping, so I'll need to keep it short and sweet this week.

Last week, as you know, we completed our mixed tape of months, with a rousing rendition of some Christmas favourites. This week, a new prompt. And, because it's a subject never far from my mind these days, the prompt is Waiting. So, revisit your archives, give it some thought and drag out a post that fits the Waiting category. Remember, the fit can be tenuous, for this is not a strict sort of linky.

The drill remains the same: follow the Fibro if we are not already BFFs, link up your post and then go visit some other linkers to share the comment love. I can't wait to see what you have for me. Though I confess to having that Foreigner song going round and round in my head.

"I've been waiting, for a girl like you, to come into my life..." Let me know when you've had enough of that one.

Ready, set, Rewind!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Claytons Blog Post

Do you remember those ads from the 1970s about Clayton's, the drink you have when you're not having a drink? Non-alcoholic, and coloured to look like whiskey. Whiskey-coloured cordial in other words.

This is the blog post version of that drink. It's the post you write when you're meant to be writing something else. Something that really needs to be written. Something that's due tomorrow.

It's a poor substitute for the real thing, but if I don't tell you my secret and I pretend to savour my post well, maybe I'll get away with it. Right up until the point where you try to steal my post, realise that it's fake and wonder why I've been pretending to be drunk on words for the past two hours. Awkward.

Anyhoo, here's cheers!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words on high rotation

A new crop of words has appeared in the Fibro. Kid words. On high rotation. Poo. Bum. Wee. Dumb dumb.

Conversations now go like this:

"You're a poo."

"No, you're a poo."

"Well, you're a weehead."

"Well, you're a poobumhead."

"Well, you're a-"

It's at this point that a shrieking harridan (that would be me) usually intervenes and threatens bodily harm should they so much as think the word poo in the next ten minutes. All is silent. Then I hear the whispers:

"You're still a poo.."

Please tell me this is one of those phases that won't last long.

[image: cjprints/etsy}

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More about time

The school holidays are very good for my productivity. Weird, but true. It's like the old days, before school and preschool, when work was wedged into one- to two-hour bursts during sleep. And after hours. Let's never forget that.

It's an efficient way to work. You sit down, you do your thing, you move on. Given more time, I tend to waste more time. I have no defence.

One thing I'm finding this time around, however, is that it's easier to get the interviews and the research done - the boys are happy to amuse themselves in daylight hours. But oh so much harder to get the actual words down on paper. I'm simply not as good at writing at night as I once was.

I blame the gym. I'm just too tired to make sense.

Do you agree? Does more time equal more wasted time for you?

[image: ToddManring/etsy}

Monday, April 11, 2011

A blog post for bloggers: all about stats

Due to the exhausting morning I spent sitting in the sunshine at my friend G's picture-perfect farm, surrounded by endless green fields, being serenaded by clucking chickens, eating cake, I have decided to make this one of those questioning Fibro posts. You'll notice from my (carefully keyworded) head that I'm wondering about stats. Specifically blog stats. Specifically, how much notice you take of them.

When I first started blogging I was obsessed by stats. I mean, obsessed. Google Analytics told me whether anyone besides my ever-supportive Mum and Dad had popped by to read. They told me which countries my visitors were zooming in from (nowhere particularly exotic as it turned out). They told me which keywords people were using to reach the Fibro (um, Alla Hoo Hoo was one noteworthy example). They told me... stuff. I was, to use the technical lingo, a Stats Whore.

Now? Not so much. Perhaps because I've realised that I don't have any reason to use them. I don't advertise, monetise or any of the other -ise words, so my stats are neither here nor there. And while it's fun to try to work out why so many people in the world are currently googling The Outsiders and therefore visiting the Fibro, it's not going to have a long-term effect on what I choose to write about. In short, to me, stats are like chatty neighbours - nice to know, but you don't want to encourage them in case you get pulled in too deep.

So now I'm wondering - are you a Stats, er, Lady Of The Night? Why? Why not?

{image: RozArt/etsy}

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am officially a Soccer Mum

Mr7 has had a big week. In the past seven days he has quit guitar (yes, I'm devastated to be going solo, but there is good news - more about that later in the week) and taken up soccer. He has bright-yellow- and-black socks. Huge black shorts. A bright-yellow-and-black shirt of questionable polyester content. And, the piece de resistance (for him, anyway), bright-yellow-and-black boots. With what Mr4 would call Hunormous black shoelaces.

Team sports are a new world to me. I never did them as a kid. I was a five hours of ballet a week girl. No running. No bonding. No, God forbid, catching. I did join a basketball team once. My poor Dad was the coach. We were abysmal. No, correct that, I was abysmal. My idea of defence was to wait at the other end of the court in case of an interception. Heaven only knows what I thought I was going to do if the opposition actually came near me.

I suspect Mr7 is made of the same stuff. So far the most advanced part of his game is the Theatrics. In this area he could rival that French guy who took a dive and robbed us of our chance in the World Cup. (I think that's the story... could be wrong.) He has been to three training sessions and played two games. At half time in the first game he came off, smiling, and said to his Dad, "Well, that was fun." It was up to The Builder to break it to him, gently, that there was another half to go.

This week, he did get more involved. He got the ball twice (yes, I was thrilled). He took a kick-off, cunningly kicking it straight to the other team, rather than the expected move of passing it across the field to someone on his own team. Tactics, I tell you.

Most of the time, he bobs along about three metres behind the play, huffing and puffing, sighing and humphing, blowing his air from his eyes (yes, he needs a haircut - Justin Bieber may be able to play soccer with that fringe but mere mortals cannot), and, apparently, praying a lot that the ball stays well away. It's all very entertaining, if not very effective.

I suspect it's going to be a long season but, for now, I'm just happy he's happy to go along. If only for the oranges.

[image: Schahryar Fekri via]

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekend Rewind

If it's Weekend Rewind time, it must be Friday. I love it when the time to write this post comes around because it means the busyness of the week is behind us and the weekend stretches ahead.

This week, the prompt for our mixed tape of fabulous posts is December. Musically, I could wheel out any number of Christmas carols at this point, as it seems to be the only music played in December (and November and October, come to think of it...) - but nobody needs to be humming Rudolph in April. Not even me.

So the drill is this: please follow the Fibro if we are not already friends, link up a post from December 2010 (or 2009 or 2008 or... you get the picture) and then visit a few other links to share the comment love. The Rewind is the world's easiest linky - and we're aiming for the world's friendliest gold star as well. Other contenders for that title include Maxabella's Grateful and Blog Gems at The King And Eye. Feel free to spread yourselves around.

Right. Ready, set, Rewind!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do you take your own advice?

I met a new friend for a chat today. She wanted to talk about writing and it's a subject that I'm always happy to discuss. We talked through the various basics of pitching and angles and the like, and then I said something that struck me as meaningful. It went something like this: "You can talk about writing as much as you like, but unless you have words on a page, you're not doing it."

Given my book manuscript with a deadline and my half-finished novel in dire need of resuscitation, this was timely advice for me. Too bad I don't appear to be taking it.

Do you take your own advice?

[image: love this upcycled notebook from This Page/etsy]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's the best book you've read recently?

With the school holidays upon me, my thoughts turn to life before children, when a holiday meant a complete break and, probably, a lovely pile of two or three new books to read. I'm thinking there won't be much of that going on in the Fibro in the next few weeks...

But, just to torture myself, I'm going to compile a reading list. With your help. So tell me, what's the best book you've read recently?

[image: from one of my favourite websites]

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A ticket to procrastination, via hypochondria

Writing may not seem like a physical job. We're not lifting heavy weights, tis true, unless you count the weight of words. We're not tossing cabers, or standing on our feet all day. But that's not to say that there are not side-effects to the job. Work injuries, so to speak.

Fortunately, the big item, the paper cut, is fewer and farther between these days. I'm still surrounded by a sea of paper, but that's more just my inefficient filing systems than anything work-related. But that day-to-day horror that is the sore neck and shoulders shows no sign of abating.

Today I went to see my physio. I've been putting it off for, oh, six or so months. Mostly because his last name involves beating people up (seriously) and that's pretty much how I feel when I leave. Not his fault. No. He tells me it's my fault for leaving it too long between visits.

Our conversations go like this:

Phyiso: "Where does it hurt?"

Me: "Here, here, here - oh, and here."

Physio: "Okay, let's cut to the chase. Where doesn't it hurt?"


Moments later:

Me: "Ow. No, really ow. This is hurting me much more than it's hurting you."

Physio: "True. I live for this stuff."

Good grief.

Having prodded all my trigger points and wrapped me in ice for 20 minutes, he declared me ready to leave. He sat opposite me, in his shorts (have you ever met a physio who was a fan of the full-length trouser?), face serious, and proceeded to lecture me on how I need to take better care of myself and - and here was the pay-off moment of the whole visit - embrace hypochondria.

"Take it seriously," he said. "Stop at the first sign of pain. Walk away from the computer. Take a break."

So there you have it people - a ticket to procrastination.

[image: hobbiesfromtheheart/etsy via (nay, because of) Maxabella)

Monday, April 4, 2011

So long and thanks for all the Hot Potatoes

On Sunday I did something I'll probably never, ever do again in my lifetime. I attended a Wiggles concert. My fourth Wiggles concert to be precise. That's the thing with having your kids three years apart, you get to Rock A Bye Your Bear lots and lots and lots of times. 

I remember my first Wiggles gig. It was at a club local to where we lived in the Big Smoke. They did three shows there, back to back. We got the 10.30am show, the difficult show. Difficult because it's key mid-morning sleep time for about three quarters of the audience. Mr7, who I hasten to point out was two at the time, sat on my lap, unmoving for the entire show. I bought him a t-shirt - his first-ever Gig T - and we went home. I had more fun than he did. No really, I loved it. Bare stage, four guys in t-shirts, no back-up dancers, no dog, no dinosaur. They brought the house down. Oh, how the mums screamed and sang along.

By the time we went back the following year, Mr7 (then two) was a devoted groupie. He took his guitar to play along with Murray. He'd worked on the actions. He was ready. We sat on the floor with Maxabella and her crew, not far from the front. Murray and Jeff ran through the crowd and, I confess, I screamed. I am a Murray girl. Go figure. In my defense, I saw him on Spicks and Specks - he's musically very knowledgeable. It's kind of an intellectual crush... I'm not making this better am I?

Mr4 attended his first Wiggles event at the dreaded Christmas concert. Mr7 was, by this stage, at school and heavily into Star Wars. Gran, Mr4 (then two) and I took the limousine service (aka Pops) to the front door of the Wollongong Entertainment Centre, sat somewhere in the nosebleed seats and watched the Circus extravaganza. He was mildly interested. He liked The Big Red Car. I didn't scream. Too far away.

Which brings me to Sunday. Five rows back, up the road. Perfect. The four of us went - we dragged Mr7 along for old times sake and he was noted to be singing along despite his best efforts to appear above it all. He did confess to enjoying seeing Sam live for the first time - it had been Greg all the way in his day.

Mr4 had a little dance, played his ukelele, wiggled a bit. The Builder got his first eyeful of the fab-to-the-under-fours but enjoyed Mr4's performance more. And me? I loved it. I sang along, clapped in all the right spots, laughed at the dumb jokes and fully appreciated the spectacle of an Australian entertainment icon in full flight. They even played Shimmy Shake, my favourite Wiggles song. (Even as I write that I appreciate that not everyone will understand the fact that I even have a favourite Wiggles song.) One of the best things about the way the Wiggles work? They constantly watch the audience - you can see them doing it, gauging what's working, taking sheer enjoyment in the kids' enjoyment.

And so that's that. My last Wiggles concert. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Murray, Jeff, Anthony, Sam, Greg, Captain Feathersword and crew for many, many sanity saving moments over the years. I would not have survived the first years of motherhood without your DVDs and I truly appreciate the broad range of musical styles and instruments to which you have introduced my children.

I admit that I never really understood the rose-eating dinosaur, nor why you would choose an octopus as one of your characters, but you write a fine song (some finer than others) and for that reason I will forgive you some of your dicier moments - including that nursery rhyme DVD, and even Cold Spaghetti Western. I will even forgive your onward, ever onward, merchandising steamroller - though possibly not the small voice that repeats 'Hot Potatoes' over and over again in the swirly light thing that Mr4 simply had to have on Sunday.

If nothing else, we'll always have the Shimmy Shake.

[image: courtesy of Mr7 (then 4)]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Could you self-publish your book?

My monthly writers' Q&A is an endless source of fascination for me. So many writers, so many questions, so little time. My guest this week is Hazel Gaynor. I first discovered Hazel when I was in my infancy as a blogger, criss-crossing the internet in search of blogs I could relate to. I found Hazel's Hot Cross Mum relatively quickly and was soon a regular reader. She was straight to the point, and funny, and she'd somehow managed to spell out her blog name in spaghetti to create her header. What's not to like?

Now Hazel has launched her first book - a self-published e-book called Hot Cross Mum: Bitesize Slices of Motherhood (featuring that world-famous spaghetti), which charts the first 12 months of her journey from leaving a corporate career to adjusting to life as a SAHM to two children. The story of how it came to be is an interesting one, and one that I just knew the friends of Fibro would want to hear. So here it is.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?
HG: "Two years ago, I didn't know what an e-book was, or a blog for that matter! I started my blog as a platform for developing a writing career after I was made redundant, just at the point when 'mummy blogging' was exploding in the UK and Ireland. The phenomenon of blogging and my part in that attracted the interest of Irish press and TV, and the blog was noticed by a literary agent. She enquired whether I'd considered developing a book based on the blog. I hadn't - but I started work on it the very next day!

"When it was submitted, the book received interest from publishers in Ireland and the UK, but unfortunately didn't make the final hurdle. I was obviously very disappointed, but dusted myself off and continued to write the blog for my personal pleasure and turned my hand to fiction writing and my freelance career.

"The book has sat on my PC ever since, nagging at me! As e-books became more and more popular, I started to think about putting 'Hot Cross Mum: bitesize slices of motherhood' out in that format. A friend of mine, Catherine Howard, was starting to see phenomenal success with her e-book 'MouseTrapped', and encouraged me to go for it!"

What was the process?
HG: "Initially, I planned to do everything myself; sourcing a cover designer, formatting the book for the various e-book distribution channels and managing all the uploading. Other writers who have gone down the e-book route have done everything themselves and it has worked for them. But with two young children to look after and a part-time freelance writing job to hold down, I just simply didn’t have the time – or probably the technical capacity if I’m honest - to do this. Having finally decided to do the ebook at the start of 2011, I just wanted to get on with it.

"So, I decided to use the expertise of a self-publishing company, Original Writing. They created the cover (using my carefully crafted spaghetti letters image!), formatted the text and have managed all the technical aspects of uploading etc. It still took a lot longer, and more work, than I’d anticipated - to get the cover looking right and to proof the formatted PDF for errors, pagination etc. But it certainly got the job done and I can guarantee the book would be floundering somewhere in cyberspace without that external input."

What has been the most daunting part of the process?
HG: "I think the most daunting part of the process is just about to happen. Having put so much time and energy into writing the book, I feel extremely protective of it. Also, this isn’t fiction. This is real, honest stuff about my life and my family – I think that makes it all the more important to me. Now it is out there and available for public consumption I just hope that it is well received. I guess that’s the leap of faith any writer takes when their carefully crafted words are let loose on the general public!"

What are you doing to promote the book – has that been a difficult task? 
HG: "Promoting a book is hugely important – especially for an unpublished author who is self-publishing. Fortunately, through my blog and social media such as Twitter, I am connected into a great network of other bloggers and writers. A number of people who have seen a preview of the book are kindly doing reviews and guest posts on their sites.

"I also approached some successful, international established authors , and parenting magazine and website editors who have given me some lovely review comments to include with my promotional material. Having their endorsement was really important to me. Plus, I'm working closely with Irish-based site to generate a publicity campaign for the book. This will include the book being featured on their blog and being promoted as their recommended read. I will also running a competition, sponsored by directebooks, to win a Sony e-Reader and credit for their e-bookstore."

I assume you've researched the ebook world extensively - what do you think are the keys to
creating a successful e-book? 
HG: "I think that the key to creating a successful e-book is probably the same as creating a successful book in any format: it has to be the writing which ultimately engages the reader and wants them to keep turning the page – or sliding their finger across the screen in this case! From seeing other writer’s experience of publishing an ebook, it seems to take a period of about 12 months for the word to get out there, for reviews to start coming in and for the sales to really start to increase. I am at the very start of my e-book journey. It’s a daunting but exciting prospect ; who knows where I might be in 12 months’ time. As they say, watch this space!"

Check out Hazel's book on Amazon and go say hello at her blog here.

So, what do you think? Could you do it yourself?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend Rewind

It's halftime at the footy, which seems the perfect time to get the Weekend Rewind underway. I peaked early last week with Guns'N'Roses November Rain, but my time has come this week. I can already hear Axl Rose wailing away in my mind...

In case you're wondering what I'm on about, welcome to the web's easiest linky. All you have to do to participate is to dust off an old post and link it up for some new comment love. Please follow the Fibro if we're not already friends, and be sure to visit a few of the other links to make some new friends. It's definitely worth the effort.

The prompt this week, as hinted at in the opening par, is November, so link up a post from November 2010, or earlier. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

To get you started, I'm sharing a post about one of my least favourite aspects of motherhood. This was clearly written on a less-than-stellar day.

Ready, set... Rewind!

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