Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A crap-tard day turned into some wonderful writing

I have been working hard at being healthy. (I wonder if it is a response to the people dropping dead in my Scotland). I've walked every morning, drunk bottles of water each day, eaten loads of salad and lean meat. And, though I've lost two inches from my waist, I've gained 500grams. I burst into tears after I got on the scales.

Next was wrestling with the complicated technology which is our reporting system. I finished them, finally, thank goodness.

Then, to have YET ANOTHER email from a teaching colleague to alert me to the fact that some [and I'm going to say this publically] pathetic, ungrateful student has been posting negatively about me on a website (and remaining, of course, anonymous) finally did me in.

She has been attacking the very essence of what makes me, I believe, a damn fine teacher. Me, who has twice been nominated for teacher of the year (thanks Andrew and Jeff and then the girls from Kelston). You see, the way I see it, if you've got something to say, say it but damn well stand behind your comments.

People have told me to ignore it but, such is the power, now, of the internet, if you google my name, this site comes up on the first page. This girl is welcome to her opinions (seems she doesn't like that I tell stories about my life to illustrate teaching moments) but, to say so, so nastily, on a public forum hiding behind anonymity, really does my rag.

I've been teaching since 1988 and I still have students contact me telling me how much they appreciate what I did for them in that (whatever the date) classroom. Thousands upon thousands of teenagers who rank me as one of the best teachers they ever had but I am so disgusted by this ONE student who is, for whatever reason, bagging me: did I give her a low mark in an essay? Tell her she needs to stop gossiping in class? Growl at her for sitting on the desk (way tapu!)? - again throwing nasty comments my way hidden behind a blank canvas.

I write reviews and I put my name at the bottom. I sometimes write letters to the editor and I put my name at the bottom. If my children want to express an opinion, I make them put their name at the bottom.

To have to walk amongst a (largely) wonderful group of students, knowing there is one who is spreading poison, is distasteful.

Instead of settling at home, I went to my favourite restaurant and wrote five pages of better than sfd. Squee.

If 'that' student reads this post, I invite her to be brave enough to come into my classroom (perhaps with a friend) and discuss her concerns.

I'm ALWAYS open to improvement. But, not taken from glib and hurtful jibs on a website.

Which is a lot like how Fleance is feeling at the moment. He's hearing stories that some are not faithful and are actually working to create his downfall. He does not know who these people are but, thankfully, he has faithful and loving friends and family who remind him of his excellent attributes.

I welcome constructive criticism and have received it many times over the years. This year alone, students have felt comfortable enough to approach regarding concerns about the possible consequences of comments I have made. Brave girls indeed and I thank them. I may not always agree with their assessment of the situations but I am pleased they feel they can come to me.

Fleance has just said as much to Rachel. Bring me your complaints. I would rather hear it from your mouth than from another.

Rachel says: such is human nature that it is more satisfying to lob a stone or mud from the protection of a wall that to hand it to a man.

Hmm, and that is how it is with anonymous comments via text or websites.
The final word: Fleance: remember Preston. Tania: the girl is a wimp and has issues. Pray for her.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bloodlines is about to have its place in the sun, again.

It will feature in the top 50 books for 2010 in this week's Listener. Great stuff and am very pleased.

But, me? I'm doing anything but writing. I've mowed the lawns (twice). I've baked muffins and made dinner many nights. I have wiped down the surrounds of the door to the bathroom ( sheesh, no one else notices).
But, most of all, I have been shepherding my two daughters and myself and hubby through the terrible grief which has washed over us re the Pike River Mine disaster.
Big questions: why does God…?
And there in lies the issue. My thoughts are that God does not do but God has established rules – natural and corporal and has given mankind freedom of will. He is not to be blamed for this terrible result but I am certain the heart of God is grieved by the loss of life.
It sucks – majorly. It has been so awful that I have had to turn off radio and telly and I will not read the paper because my heart cannot bare the grief. I am so thankful for our poets and our commentators who are putting the stake in the ground. And, yay for U2 for their acknowledgement.
I will pick up my ‘digitised’ pen soon but I have given myself permission to sit and weep for the stupid loss of life and ache for the mothers and wives who will never see their men again. I hugged my man tonight when I got home from school. We stood there, both of us, silent and that hug and silence meant so much especially as he had just had a victim support callout to a suicide of a mother just up the road from where we live.
It might seem trite to say this but because our family have had its fair share of pain and suffering this past year or so, I get the question: why? And, sorry to say, the answer is, mostly 'cos shit happens' and we're not talking about dropping our buttered bread.

Rachel's question as to the why at the start of Bloodlines, I think, echos what most of us are feeling at this time. Maybe we try to categorise the 'value' of the men who died. The young Joesph Dundar who is the subject of Gary McCormick's poem; Mary Mccullum's stark poem reminded me that, despite the media, we are talking about 29 individuals, 29 men whose faces are now public when we never knew them before.

My personal view is this:I would like God to interfer and stop people dying like this. Me and God have an appointment to discuss such matters but at the moment I'm not ready for such a meeting.
We weep with the people of Greymouth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

moving on slowly

Hey everyone
I've knocked past the 20,000 word mark and have actually not followed my own advice: I've not written the entire book as SFD (shitty first draft) but, because I know the story, have been shaping and reworking the first few chapters. I'm pleased with my output and pleased with what has come out of the woodwork (ha ha lol - paper comes from word... ok, I'll shuttup).

Anyway, Birthright is moving forward but this is going to be a massive task - the final book in the trilogy; the ending with all of the threads which I knitted into the first two books, tied up. I personally think this is going to be a BIG book.

Meanwhile, continue to tell all your friends and relatives about the series and, by the time it is as big as HP or Twilight, you can be smug and say: I was there from the start.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A cartoon of a scene from Bloodlines

I have recently discovered xtranormal which is a wonderful site and one in which I intend subscribing to so that I can do more.

Go here to see the animation of a skit I wrote a couple of years ago for students to highlight the need to specifically answer the question. It was written with Monty Python in mind but I had to modify it a bit for the American accent.

Go here to see the scene where William of Normandy (who later becomes William the Conquoer) and his wife Matilda talk about their getting together. Sorry it's set in an office enviornment rather than a 11thC French castle but I'm just starting out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

After I have submitted Birthright....

I am not going to lock myself into a timeframe. It is too stressful (especially as I have a full time [necessary] paying occupation).

In the past, I have written my novels in the gaps in between raising my daughters and doing my job. The pressure of a deadline actually makes the writing process less than enjoyable.

Once Birthright is done and dusted, I intend retreating to ticker with some works in progress without the pressure of 'you must...' kind of thing.

I created a cartoon segment for a section Blood Lines. When it's uploaded, I will post the link.

Now, off to bed. After all we goddesses do actually need our sleep

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Thane of Cawdor is back!

Such is the nature of writing that one never knows who one is going to meet on the journey. This morning, while mowing the lawn, a young man presented himself to me. (In my head; not actually standing on our property.) A complex, somewhat difficult to understand man/boy who had just recently inherited his father's title: the thane of Cawdor.

Fleance had never met him until 'tonight' (ie the night in the opening chapter) but knew his father to be a strong and fearless warrior (evidenced in the two major battles our king has been involved in).

Personally, I'm not liking the kid but my author instincts tell me to just wait and see. This young man could turn out equally to be friend or foe.

Excitment much!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T.K. Roxborogh on da radio....

My ums and ahhs aside, I am pretty happy with the comments I've made about Bloodlines.
Go here to listen to a radio interview that the wonderful Vanda Symon conducted on her monthly radio show Write On

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nothing new under the sun

One of the frustrating things of being a writer (and, trust me, there are many) is thinking you've come up with this brilliant idea. Or way of describing something. Or turn of phrase. Only to learn that someone far more intelligent/famous/clever/popular has already said it.

If weren't for Facebook and Youtube, I probably would never know but this is what happened tonight:

Fleance is rarking up his disingenuous guests. He's telling them that they can't hold on to the what has gone before - the way of operating; holding on to past hurts and grievances. I.E. - get over it and move on. Yes, he concedes. Things are not going to be easy but it's time to change the way we think because the old ways of thinking have brought us pain.'

I think that's good advice, personally.

Cue being reminded, via Facebook, of a speech by an inspirational educator who recounts this quote:

'The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty. And we must rise with the occasion. Our case is new so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.'(Abraham Lincoln, 1862)

Maybe I should just get Fleance to say 'Wot he said, innit?'

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bloodlines still on the best sellers list - whoop

Below are some of the wonderful responses I've received this week:

Hi Tania
I just had a Year 13 student return Banquo’s Son and she was positively gushing about how fabulous it was. She even told me how she had to take it to work and she was so engrossed in it during her break-times, that workmates were hassling and teasing her and she didn’t even hear or see them! Honestly, she was panting with enthusiasm. Isn’t it fabulous?
Julia, Librarian, Kerikeri High School)

I read Bloodlines, by the way, and it was REALLY good! I especially liked the very ending when it turned out that the wedding was for [censored]and [censored], not [censored]and [censored]. Even after I finished the book I was still just thinking about it, because I just didn't expect it at all!! I also loved the part where [censored] came in and saved [censored], because I was just boiling from anger at [censored], because even before he pretended to be a traitor, I sort was having bad feelings about him because he seemed sort of untrustworthy in a way. So when he was pretended he was bad I thought I was so clever because I had known all along! But then it twisted again! And he was good (well better than good really, because he sacrificed his own life for [censored]!) and I found that I liked it much better that he was good because I was caught so surprised by that too!!!
From Harriet Y9 Student from St Hilder’s Collegiate)
(** sorry censored bits so that I don't spoil things if you haven't read it yet. - TK)

I just walked into Whitcoulls as they were unboxing the lastest new releases and SQUUEEEED rather loudly at the sight of bloodlines. The sales lady was like whaaat. So I told them wat a fantastic nz author u r and now they reckon they should make it more prominent lol
(via txt. Aimee, Y12 (one of the babes who now lives in central Auckland)

BTW have just finished reading Bloodlines. You are one hell of a story teller! A great saga. Xx
(via txt. Fleur Beale, award winning NZ children’s writer with international acclaim for her books I am Not Esther and The Remarkable Girl )

Monday, November 1, 2010

Finding Fleance

For the past few weeks, I have been working and re-working the first two chapters of Birthright. Why, because I need to get into the boy's mind again. I've been out doing other things and now I want to ensure that these opening chapters set the scene and tone properly.

I'm almost there. I'm liking his honesty. That, as he says,
Public displays always make him anxious but he had learned to apply the skills taught by Magness. To participate successfully in the cross-bow competitions all those years ago. Though all might have eyes fixed on him, a truth he came to understand very quickly was that they were not seeing his real self but rather what they expected to see in the role he was performing. So, whether it was on the range, addressing his soldiers or Scotland’s people, he was able to fulfil the expectations of his audience and keep his heart protected from evil.

But like all things solid and good, laying the foundation properly is critical to the rest being solid.

I wrote part of a chapter placed about half way in (though I haven't written the inbetween stuff) and cried for two hours. I think this is a good sign.

I have on my shoulders two voices: Vicki and Josh (and they are not evil but good) urging certain things of me and reminding me of what needs to be done and how.

This helps.

I will now stop avoiding the actual task of writing the third book and actually, um, go back to writing it.