Sunday, 30 May 2010

Deep point of view: Her head hurt... no, that should be Ouch! She touched the sore spot on her head... or something like that

Before: She felt like a Bex and a good lie down.

After: A pulse throbbed in her forehead. She winced before she tossed the pills into her mouth and unfolded her tight limbs onto the chaise longue.

I still don't know if that's hitting the mark with deep point of view, but hey, I wrote the 'After' version in 30 seconds.

Today the gorgeous Nikki Logan, author of Lights, Camera... Kiss the Boss, shared her insights into Deep POV and FAS (feel, act, speak) with me.

We workshopped one sentence from my ms in order to give the reader less tell and more show. The goal was to get into the character's head and let him tell the story.

Take a look at the two versions below. Unfortunately, the After version isn't exactly right because I lost Nikki's changes before I could copy them. Doh. But this is how I remember it:

Chase Lavelle observed the slender frame of the young woman with the wild mane of auburn hair recede into the glare, her long legs a blur in the shimmering heat haze rising from the marina. He surprised himself when a pang of regret clipped at his conscience. He wished she'd stayed a moment longer. He wasn't used to being challenged, especially by a leggy Amazon wearing denim shorts so brief they could send a man's blood pressure through the roof.

After: Chase Lavelle's gut sank as the slender frame of the young woman with the wild mane of hair receded into the glare, her long legs a blur in the shimmering heat haze from the tar on the marina. He whistled to himself and shook his head. Clever and beautiful. An Amazon wearing denim shorts so brief they could send a man's blood pressure sky high. He'd never been challenged like this before. An unfamiliar pang rose high in his chest as he placed the squeegee in the bucket. If only she'd stayed a little longer.

I didn't quite nail the FAS. Which version do you prefer?

You can read all about Nikki Logan at

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I need a good kick up the proverbial to start writing again and NaNoWriMo might just get me moving

I just joined Na No Wri Mo (National Novel Writing Month) run through RWAus. What have I done? I've made a comitment to write 30,000 words in June. New words for a new book I haven't really given much thought to. I don't even have names for my hero and heroine.

I sit here shaking my head. What is wrong with me? (lots, but let's not go there)

The way it works is that participants set a goal - while mine is a meagre two thirds of a category romance, others are aiming for 60,000 words - and more.

Some have chosen to edit their manuscripts rather than start afresh. Others are both writing and editing.
I'm now wondering if I should instead nominate to edit my ms, which is languishing from a lack of attention since I finished it in August, 2009. It needs more than an injection of botox to revive it. Nothing less than a full lift, nip and tuck. I don't know that I have the right mindset to do that just yet.

I think the gentle pressure from the rest of the NaNoWriMo team should be enough to get me started on this latest project. Each day of the challenge, which is called 50ks in 30 days, participants are meant to reveal their progress, which is displayed on a word counter on the official blog. Yikes.

I fear I am about to suffer for my art. In the meantime, it's off to suffer for my family - it's pea and ham soup on this dark and stormy night in Sydney.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

If only David Campbell was an ocean swimmer he might not be in this mess

*My theory, which is my own, on the David Campbell scandal is that if the former NSW Minister for Transport and Roads did some REAL exercise (this excludes raising the GAY BAR) he'd be a lot happier and healthier.

I was shocked to learn he's only a couple of years older than me. Even before he was outed by a callous media, the poor man was obviously (figuratively) wrestling with demons of some description that led to excessive food and alcohol consumption.
He looks at least 10 years older than his 53 years. He is massive - a walrus - with a neck lost under the flubber of several chins. And he has a complexion so swarthy that it appears every blood vessel in his face is ready to burst.

My point is the occasional salt-water dip and physical exertion in the fresh air (I would imagine that a gay bar is a poorly lit and airless venue) would have the same effect as a refeshing cold shower, thereby limiting Mr Campbell's visits to Ken's at Kensington.

After a hard day in Parliament or on the hustings, DC thinks: 'Rather than a dive at Ken's, I fancy a strenuous work-out at Bondi. That'll do the trick!'

And the eye candy on the beach never disappoints.

*I am not without feelings and my thoughts are with DC's family, whom he deceived for over 20 years. DC didn't deserve to be outed by Channel 7, but he is, nonetheless, a coward.

Pic: DC's head is placed atop the taut torso of our country's Federal Opposition Leader, the Mad Monk.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

How to mention sharks and sex in the same post

Someone put this challenge to me the other day when I told them my recent post on Underbelly: the golden mile received around 30 hits from around the world, possibly because the topic was the show's witers' preoccupation with boobs the size of basketballs and boring sex scenes.

We also discussed my passion for ocean swimming. "Aren't you scared of sharks?" is the question most people ask me when I tell them about my hobby. Not, "Aren't you afraid of drowning or of huge waves, rips and those horrendous bluebottles?"

My answer is, "Yes, I am scared of sharks," but I don't think I have to worry about them during an ocean swim. Here are my reasons:

1. Sharks tend not to snack during the day, which is when most ocean swims are held. The serious carnivores that frequent Australia's eastern seaboard tend to eat brekky around dawn and tea around dusk (I would give them an hour either side to digest their meal). This is my and every other ocean swimmer's theory, and I'm sticking to it.

2. The surf lifesaving clubs that organise most of the local ocean swims always have loads of rescue-crew support, in dinghies and surf skis, along the course. You are never far from help if a shark is tugging at your cossies.

3. Most organised swims have aerial surveillance so if a shark is spotted, as was the case during the Tamarama-Clovelly swim in early April, the event is cancelled. Tough luck if you were still out there when the call went out.

But seriously, it's a well-known fact that sharks hang off Fairy Bower near Manly and I heard that one was spotted during this year's Byron Bay Winter Whales swim.

What was the topic of this post again? Ah, yes SHARKS and SEX.

Let's see how many sharks react to that.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Top 5 ocean swims in NSW

The 2009/10 ocean swims season is officially over, so here are my five personal favourites from a tally of 15 swims that started in late November with the Dawny swim and ended in early May at Byron Bay.

Top 5 Ocean Swims in NSW

1. Pool to Peak Newport Swim: It was a miserable day on Sunday, January 3, so it was with some trepidation that I drove to Newport on the northern beaches all by myself. Lucky I did. It was a delightful 2 km swim, made all the more enjoyable by the relaxed community vibe. Swims like this seem to be disappearing as the sport grows exponentially and takes on a competitive and commercial tone.

2. Alone again, naturally... oh, except for my old bastard dad (he never reads my blog, God bless him), who grudgingly accompanied me to the Dawny to Cockatoo Island Challenge. This 2.3 km swim takes place in late November in a murky Sydney Harbour. You can't see the bottom. In fact, you can't see past your goggles.

But hey, who cares if a family of bull sharks is checking out the all-you-can-eat smorgasbord as some boofy old Balmain boys charge along the course, which circumnavigates Cockatoo Island in Sydney's inner-west?

My take on this is you can learn to love this swim if you keep the dawn (before the sun rises, not Dawn Fraser) and dusk theory in the top of your mind*.
The Dawny swim has everything - great location, strong sense of community, glorious views of the Harbour Bridge and CentrePoint Tower during the swim and yummy tropical fruit afterwards. Oh, and the fear factor makes you swim faster.

3. The Big Swim - Palm Beach to Whale Beach: I didn't enjoy this 2.7 km sprint in 2009, but in 2010 I had a ball. It always seems to take forever to turn the corner to Whale Beach, but this year I remained focussed and revelled in the beauty of a clear blue ocean on a perfect day.

Around 1900 eejits registered for the event, which annually falls on the last Sunday in January. Another reason why I got a thrill out of this swim was because, with a time of 56.28 - and that's slow, I beat the Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott (1.07.09). Say no more.

4. As the season progressed, my times went into crash-and-burn mode. But even though I did my worst time in three years at the Mollymook Ocean Swim Classic in April, 2010, I still rate it as one of the best swims on the calendar.

I love it because it's a destination swim, starting at the northern end of Mollymook Beach and finishing at the southern end. It's also a real community event, with all the locals involved. Overall, it's a great day in a lovely part of the world. Plus, I get to spend the weekend with my sister, her hubby (my swimming partner Davo) and my two nephews.

5. Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Swim Classic in the first weekend of May: Read my recent post on this swim. It's sort of like Goldilocks and The Three Bears when Goldilocks finds the perfect chair, the most delicious porridge and the comfy bed. She just can't believe her luck.

Everything is 'just right'.
*The theory is that a shark's meal time is around dawn and then again at dusk. Mmm...
PS The photo is of the Dawn Fraser pool in Balmain - the swim is held in the harbour beyond the enclosure.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The sex scenes in Underbelly are so overdone

How much sex is too much? If you tune into Underbelly: the golden mile, the third instalment in the hugely successful Underbelly series, you're bound to see a sex scene and 'elements' of nudity - usually the basketball-proportioned tits of some triple-jointed pole dancer being ogled by a gaggle of corrupt coppers.

But last night was 'ruly truly' OTT. There was a fast and hard sex scene in an underground car park (a dirty and grimy place at the best of times) against a car (it was standing-up sex). This was spliced in with a rape scene in a pool room at some seedy Kings Cross beer den. The perpetrators were those horrible cops, who handcuffed and gang-banged a young police woman.

If that wasn't awful enough, the alleged liaison between Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim and a policewoman went on and on - for at least three minutes of TV time. They were seriously humping like rabbits - fast and furious. It was relentless.

My question is, how much of this is necessary and how much is just sensational filler?

I didn't expect to see a romantic, soft focus sex scene between the actors who played Ibrahim and the policewoman. But I did expect something more creative. Instead, every camera angle was used to film the pair (this time it was sitting-up sex) doing the same boring stuff. Back view of rabbits at it, side view of rabbits still at it, front view of rabbits still going hard at it. The sex was more vigorous than a bar tender shaking an orgasm cocktail. But not as refreshing.

During a momentary pause in the humping, the actor who plays Ibrahim says, 'Put your uniform back on'. And the chick cop asks, 'Why?' to which he replies, 'So, I can watch you take it off again.'

The script had to be written by a man - make that a group of men.

I swear to god that if you timed the sex-and-chicks-with-mammoth-boob scenes, half the episode would be over.

I can live without such cheap thrills. From now on, I'll get my kicks from MasterChef 2. Gotta love the Matt!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Cry me an ocean: the season is over

After the swim at Byron Bay last week, I felt bereft. The NSW ocean swimming season '09/10 has come and gone in a huge fantastic wave. And now it's come crashing down.

I think Davo and I swam at some beach somewhere almost every weekend over summer. Of course, we're not as mad as some eejits, who clock up a swim for every week of the season, no matter how far they have to travel. Some of them must spend a fortune and organise their lives around ocean swims.

I'm not that gone - yet.

It's autumn in Sydney, and though that doesn't mean much today because it's bloody hot out there in the sun, towards August the weather cools down and the winter blues kick in with gusto.

To help ease the misery, there's a swim in June on the northern beaches at Mona Vale (MV). Last year's inaugural MV Cold Water Classic was a wipe-out, literally, for me. The weather was dreadful (very UK) and the ocean was a dark churning presence. I got dumped on the way in and lost my goggles, so I got my first DNF (did not finish).

When you think about it, June's not that far off. Life is rushing away from me at the speed of light.

Happy Mother's Day to all the gorgeous mums around the world. And cheers to those who dip their toes in the deep blue sea.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Swim Classic 2010

The pics say it all really. The Byron Bay Winter Whales Ocean Swim Classic is my favourite of all the ocean swims. My daughter Miss Hissy has a favourite word, which sums up the swim and location - SUBLIME (definition: majestic. Of high spiritual, moral or intellectual worth).

The locals say Byron has gone to the dogs because it's become such a tourist town. But I love it. When I arrive at Main Beach, I feel the release of tension in my neck and back. It's beautiful (the beach and the release of tension).

And the place still has a chilled-out hippy vibe, despite its gentrification. Backpackers and ferals cohabit with baby boomers, who haul their long boards up to The Pass in an attempt to rekindle their youth.

Also, over the first weekend in May the place is chock-a-block with ocean swimmers from as far south as the Mornington Peninsula. They're a weird lot, mostly older (once you hit 40 there's nothing better to do) and totally addicted to the sport. On the Friday, Saturday and Monday morning at 8am over 100 of their ilk gather at Main Beach and snake around to The Pass, just to swim back again. As if the swim on the Sunday isn't enough.

THE SWIM: Just before the 2.2 km swim started from Wategos on Sunday, we spotted two dolphins doing synchronised surfing off the break at The Pass, and during the swim my friend Mrs Snorkel saw four turtles (that's because she cheats and wears fins, snorkel and big fat goggles).

The course takes you out from Wategos, around The Pass and along Main Beach to the surf club, which is easy to see as a row of conifers act as markers. It's a dream course because you can have a good squizz while you swim, and still maintain your stroke. A bonus is the current that gives you a helpful nudge. The big, round orange buoys are easy to spot and, because the older swimmers start before the younger swimmers, which is unusual in an ocean swim, you are never alone.

The water wasn't its usual crystal clear this year as the swell churned up sand from the ocean floor. But you still get to see plenty of fish because it's reasonably shallow all the way.

I and the 2300 or so other punters had a bliss bomb of a weekend.

If only life was like this 24/7.
Pic 1 is at sunset looking towrds The Pass and the lighthouse; pic 2 was taken at The Pass looking out to Mt Warning; pic 3 was taken at the finish line on Main Beach by my friend Ms Five Star. I was still out with the mob, struggling to keep up and regretting several glasses of Pinot Noir consumed the night before the swim.