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28 July 2006

Talkin' bout my generation

I attended a seminary thing this week about Generation Y, run by Peter Sheehan.

For those who aren’t sure, Gen Y is kids born between 1979 and 1994. So I am one. It was a foregone conclusion that I was going to love the seminary thing, because if there’s one thing we Gen Y’s love hearing about – it’s ourselves. (as an only child, I have a bit of a double whammy when it comes to the all-about-me thing).

So, this, in no particular order, is what I learnt about my generation:

-we stay at home longer, because we like our parents. We have very compatible values, often watch the same TV shows and listen to the same music. Our parents brought us up with a friendship model, as opposed to an authoritarian one.

-we are the first truly global generation – a Y living in Melbourne will be much the same as a Y living in Tokyo or Boston.

-we thrive on being connected.

-we laugh in the face of the ‘career path’ and promotion system. Instead of starting at the bottom and slowly working our way up, we start at an entry level job, and then leave for another job that is a bit better, zig-zagging our way to the top. It’s estimated that Gen X change jobs 8-9 times in their lives. Gen Y are predicted to change jobs 20-30 times, over 10 different industries, 5 of which don’t exist yet.

-we are early adopters, and we love change. An example:

The amount of time that it takes for a new technology to reach a critical mass of 50 000 users:
radio: 34 years television: 13 years internet: 4 years instant messaging: 4 months

-we are mature, resilient, fast learners, practical, manipulative, self-centred, politically apathetic, optimistic, largely oblivious to advertising, friends with our parents, easily bored, materialistic, concerned about the environment/social issues.

Someone at the seminar protested that kids today are the same as kids fifty years ago. Peter asked everyone what video games they used to play. This is what we found:

Baby boomers:
Object of game: Stop ball from falling in hole.

Gen X:
Object of game: Help frog cross road without getting squished.

Gen Y:
Object of game: to join together with other players (there are about 500 000 of them, 50 000 of which are playing right now) to kill monsters for experience and money, as well as explore the enormous world, socialise, join guilds and duel. Everquest money/experience/items are sold online for real world money, which makes Everquest the 17th richest economy in the world, with a per-capita GDP higher than China or India.

Yeah. Sure kids haven’t changed.

25 July 2006

How many book-industry people does it take to screw in a lightglobe?

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: it takes more than one person to write a book. And lucky for me, many of those people have blogs. So here, for your my reading entertainment, is my report on How a Book is Made, illustrated by Other People's Blogs.

1. We start with the authors. Some of my favourite bloggy authors are Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Penni Russon, Margo Lanagan, and my mum Carole Wilkinson. To name just a few. These people take the first step, and write the book.

2. (this step is optional) The author sends his/her book to an agent. For how not to do this, refer to Miss Snark (for snarkiness) and PubRants (for useful tips). I'm also sticking the Evil Editor in this category, because he talks about book queries.

3. The author (or agent) finds a publisher. (my publisher blogs here)

4. The publisher assigns an editor. There are many, many editors who blog. The Editrix is a children's book editor. Brooklyn Arden is Scholastic children's book editor Cheryl Klein's blog (yes, that's American Scholastic, which means Harry Potter). The Buried Editor is also in children's publishing, but small-press.

5. While the book gets edited, it also gets designed. There's a great interview (with pictures) with Paul Buckley, the guy who makes beautiful things at Penguin UK (I know, it's not a blog. But it's interesting). For American books, check out the blog about NYT book reviewed covers. But the thing that's really floating my boat right now is interior book design (and no, I don't mean books about where to put your couch and what kind of wallpaper is fashionable). And the ultimate interior book design blog is India Ink.

6. Then it all gets put together, and copyedited and proofread and stuff. And publicised and marketed. I could have put Anna Louise from Tor in the editing category, but she's written some epic and invaluable stuff about P&Ls, which everyone should go and read.

7. Then the book is sent away and printed. I have no blog for this one. (quick! look at this clip of Chariots of Fur from Monsterpiece Theatre!)

8. Oh, you think it's over? Now you have to go and be reviewed in important literary journals, and then actually sold in bookshops.

9. Then people read the books. And talk about them. Lots and lots of people.

10. Then people write comics about the books. Which is just cool.

There is, of course, another option, which is self-publishing, or POD (print on demand). POD-dy Mouth is a masochistic dedicated blogger who reads lots and lots of POD to find the diamonds in the rough.

Did I miss anything? (I'm sure I did)

24 July 2006

Joan's Crack

Our Joan (the one out the front of the Library) has a crack. She's having radiation to check how deep it is, and if it's fixable. The whole front of the library has been cordoned off with DANGER - RADIATION stickers everywhere.

I have to say when I saw them I was hoping that it was something a bit more exciting. Like that they'd discovered that the Joan statue is really a NUCLEAR WEAPON planted in Melbourne by the Evil French a la Greeks bearing gifts.

But at least I got to make the joke about Joan's crack.

22 July 2006

The end... or not

So, I finished the novel last weekend.

This is, in many respects, a bald-faced lie. More correct to say:

So, I reached the conclusion of my planned narrative arc last weekend.

Meaning, I finished the first draft.

It is 210 A4 pages long, or 77643 words. I'm considering cutting out 1100 words so it will be 76543, because that's a cooler number.

It is 31 chapters, but I reckon it should be 30, because it's better. Although 31 is a prime number, so Mark Haddon would be pleased. And maybe Reason.

In case anybody cares, there are no passive sentences, and the document has a Flesch Reading Level of 87.4%. Whatever that means.

The final and most important thing that you should know about my first draft is this:

it's crap.

I'm not being self-deprecating here, because those of you who know me can attest that I don't really go in for that sort of thing. The book is crap because it is a first draft. I haven't even read through it yet. This is maybe 1/3 of my journey complete, and even less of the actual Book's journey (it gets to do things like Be Designed and Go To The Printer that I'm not really involved in).

Next step: read and cringe, red pen on hand.

(actually the next step is to finish the glossary for an educational text I'm doing called Going Shopping. Yeah baby, it's 24 pages of fascinating supermarket-related information that is going to go straight to the top of the bestseller list. Move over, Dan Brown and JK Rowling.)

(any suggestions on how to explain EFTPOS to a child are welcome)

17 July 2006

How do you write about Australia when it doesn't exist?

Because it didn't, in 1814. It was just New South Wales. The people who lived there were mostly British, or identified themselves as belonging to a tribe, not a nation.

It's hard to look at your country through the eyes of a stranger, but that's what I'm trying to do. Australia is a country of such contradictions - stunningly beautiful, but also ugly and deadly.

Take cockatoos, for example. They're beautiful. Just beautiful. Snow-white feathers, beady black eyes and an amazing crest of yellow-gold. Gorgeous.

Until it opens its beak, and out comes the most the second most horrifying noise ever heard. See? Beautiful, but ugly.

What, I hear you asking, is the most horrifying noise ever heard? Any Aussies reading this should easily be able to answer that. I'll give you a clue. It's cute as a card full of buttons. It's furry. It has big, vulnerable eyes. It has sex in your roof.

Awww. Isn't he cute? Until he starts getting his rocks off with his lady friend about two feet from your trying-to-sleep head. Little fucker.

But apart from the animals, what else is there? What else makes Australia Australia?

-bugs (we got lots of bugs)
-sun (getting sunburnt)
-the smell of eucalyptus

What else?

(and no, things like Ken Done tea-towels and Vegemite don't count. We're talking early-nineteenth-century, baby colony type stuff. they didn't even have Strine yet)

13 July 2006

Three reasons to love Margo Lanagan

1. she is a truly awesome writer. If you haven't read Black Juice, then go and do so immediately. It's amazing in so many different ways. Trust me. (and for those of you who already love her, I have her new collection, Red Spikes, sitting here on my desk in manuscript form, so ner-ner).

2. she is an excellent and interesting blogger, as was evidenced on insideadog.

3. she says lovely things about me and Joan on her blog.

10 July 2006

Memories of working in a bookshop...

I just posted this as a comment on Literary Gas, and because tonight I will be taking Rita to her puppy school graduation ceremony (yes, I'm serious), it can be the blog post that I meant to write tonight...

my working-in-a-bookshop story:

me: Hi, can I help you?

she: (in a peculiar accent that you only find in shopping centres some distance from the city) Yeah. You know that man who wrote Lord of the Rings?

me: (dubiously) ye-es.

she: What's his latest book?

me: He's dead.

she: No, no. There's a new one. There was a thing in the Herald Sun.

me: No. He's dead. He's been that way for quite some time.

she: There's a new book!

me: (trying to be helpful) There's a movie.

she: (scowling) I'm not stupid.

me: (thinking of her brother and his baseball bat) Oh, no.

she: It's called The Goblin.

me: (sigh)...

she: What?

me: It's called The Hobbit.

she: Whatever. Do you have it?

me: Sure. But he's still dead.

This makes me very happy

What Teen Angst Novel are You? - funny, lots of results, with pix, from the author of The Boyfriend List

LOOKING FOR ALASKA, by John Green. Sad, Funny, boozy, thought-provoking. Go read it. It's you.
Take this quiz!

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05 July 2006


My book is being reprinted! Only two months after publication!

It's getting a slightly different cover, with pull-quotes from The Age ("surely a dream come true...") and Children's Bookseller & Publisher ("history is compellingly brought to life... the reader is instantly engaged"). The cover will also be a brighter red, as some people commented that it was too dark.

I will try and post it here when I am allowed...