What Four Hours Means + Answering Some Quessies

As some of you know I’ve been dealing with an injury that means I spend way less time at my computer. I thought I’d say a little bit more about what that means as I’ve had a few people frustrated at my not responding to them.

When I’m at my computer for my scant four hours my top priority is my novel. After that I deal with the most important email (from agent, publishers etc) after that I tackle this blog. So far that’s pretty much all I get to. Which means I am not reading anything on Twitter and I have not read any blogs in a donkey’s age.

Thus I do not know what you’ve been saying about me. I’m not ignoring you, honest. I just haven’t read it. I do not know the latest kidlit gossip (unless Scott remembers to tell me). I have not answered your lovely email to me. But I have read it and been thrilled by it. Thank you.

To summarise: if you wish me to know something email me. But know that it will take me a long time to answer. My apologies in advance.

Which leads me to answering the questions I’ve been emailed lately:

Q: How is your injury going?

A: I’m doing much better. Thank you.

Q: Does that mean you’ll be online more?

A: For the time being no. Until I’m completely healed I’m going to continue the current no-more-than-four-hours daily-on-computer-five-days-a-week regime. Aside from anything else I’m getting a lot more writing done this way.

And when I’m not at the computer I’m getting a tonne of reading done. Most of it is research for my novel but I also recently read and loved Melina Marchetta’s Piper’s Son and Jaclyn Moriarty’s Dreaming of Amelia. I have also read two awesomely great novels by Sarah Cross. (Neither published yet. Sorry. But, trust me, you’re gunna love them.) I’ve been reading the serialised version of the third book in Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which I am also adoring. (Though I am very impatient for the next installment. Aren’t I lucky to know so many great writers who let me read their books early?) I’m also buried deep in Pluto by Naoki Urasawa. (I also love his Monster and am about to get started on 20th Century Boys.)

Q: What is this novel that’s eating all your computer time?

A: It is the 1930s novel that I have been mentioning for some time. That’s right I finally settled down and picked just one novel to work on. It’s big and sprawling and set in NYC in the early 1930s and is written in a mixture of omniscient point of view and letters.1 I haven’t had this much fun writing in ages.

Q: When will your new book be published?

A: I have no idea. I am writing the 1930s book without a contract. I’ll sell it—or, rather, my agent Jill Grinberg will—when I’ve finished the book. So your guess is as good as mine as to when that will be.

Well, okay, my guess is a lot better than yours. The book just passed the 40k mark and I haven’t even gotten up to the events in the proposal (which I wrote when we were going to sell it before I finished it). I think I’ve written about a quarter or less of the novel. I also think it may be more than one novel. But I have decided to write the entire story in one go no matter how long it is. Then and only then will it be sold. The soonest I can imagine this book being finished would be the end of this year. But that’s probably way too optimistic. Then Jill would have to sell it, then the publisher would have to find a place for it in their publishing schedule, which would be 2012 at the earliest. Again that’s a very optimistic guestimate. In short: do not hold your breath for my next novel to appear in bookshops any time soon.

Q: How has Liar been selling?

A: My Australian and USian publishers tell me Liar is selling better than any of my other books. But that’s all I know. (It hasn’t been published anywhere but Australia/NZ and USA/Canada yet. Though it has sold in a number of other countries.)

Q: How is your garden coming along?

A: Wonderfully well. Thank you for asking. All the plants are in! We’ve even used some of them in cooking. (Mint, bay leaves, dill, chillis.) Being surrounded by gorgeous plants has made us both happier and we spend much time doting on them (and then eating some of them). Here is a photo for your delectation:

This is what it used to look like (Well, actually, this is what it looked like after we got the deck sanded prior to garden going in. Click here for the pre-sanded version.):

Thanks again for the lovely letters. The ones in praise of Liar are becoming more and more frequent and never fail to make my day. I’m so pleased that book has meant so much to so many readers.

  1. That’s right, Justine goes for the most commercial angles yet again. []


  1. Chelsea on #

    The new novel sounds awesome and the garden is really cool. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  2. Julie Polk on #

    Just a long overdue heal-quickly note (in fact, so long overdue that it appears you are already healing. Well done!) The garden looks fab – especially that plant closest to the camera, which is exactly what I would picture if you said, “Imagine a single firework. Good! Now picture it as a muppet.” Add some ping-pong ball eyes and you’ll live on the royalties for the rest of your life.

  3. Bookewyrme on #

    So glad to hear you are feeling better, and hope you continue to do so. I am also thoroughly jealous of your gorgeous deck-garden. I miss having fresh herbs to cook with!

  4. wandering-dreamer on #

    Oohhh, nice garden, I swear it makes the porch look even longer! And a 1930s story with different-than-the-norm storytelling style? Sweet, can’t wait to see it (no matter how long it takes, can’t take longer than Bruce Coville when writing a certain unicorn story).
    And here’s my hopes to a continued and speedy recovery!

  5. Doret on #

    At least you have more time for your garden reading and your WIP. I do hope you feel like blogging on a regular basis soon. Though I am glad you aren’t rushing back.

    They had some slick clothes in the 1930’s

  6. Julia Rios on #

    The garden looks lovely. The guest posts continue to be fantastic, but it’s nice to hear from you when you have the chance to give us updates. I’m glad you’re still mending well and getting writing work done.

  7. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    Ooh, pretty garden. You’ve inspired me. We just moved into a flat with a balcony like yours and I was wondering what to plant there. Glad you’re healing. Keep it up.

  8. GrassTreeSquee! on #

    The garden looks so great! I love the grass tree (I want a grass tree). Julie Polk, grass trees don’t need eyes – if they could see, there’s a risk they would be overwhelmed by their own gorgeousness.

  9. ClareSnow on #

    omg your garden is more awesome than awesome. I love it that ppl from other places are so amazed by Xanthorrhoea. they are the greatest plants ever! and is that Kingia australis near the end!? (but i just read they’re rarely available so maybe its not.) Remember they need lotsa water while they get used to their new home, but Sydney’s winter should do that for you.

    I want to know the names of all the natives, but you probably won’t get to that, so I’ll just have to stick to guessing. What looks vaguely banksia-like is a Waratah right? being from out west i don’t know Waratahs, but i do know they’re Proteaceae as is banksia.

    I lived in a house that had about 10 original Xanthorrhoea preissii in the huge back year and lots of tuarts and jarrah. It was rental and has since been leveled. I miss that beautiful bit of bush at my back door (in the suburbs). One of the xanths would have been 300 yrs old – i wish i took it with me tied to the roof rack.

    I hope the Xanths flower some spring soon.

  10. Justine on #

    ClareSnow: Here’s what’s in the photo. From close in there’s the first Xanthorrhoea Johnsonii, which is a double header. (I’ll post better piccies on the weekend.) Then there’s the herb garden which has a chilli plant, basil, Tahitian lime treee, kaffir lime tree, lemon tree, bay tree, basil, flat-leaf parsley, majoram, dill and mint. (More herbs will go in eventually.) Then there’s three more Xanthorrhoea johnsonii one of which is around 140 years, then there’s Syzygium luehmannii(lilypilly).

    I adore Xanths too. Here’s hoping ours survive!

  11. ClareSnow on #

    Your xanths will survive! the main reason for them carking it is ppl think they need no water, but here are some watering tips from Grasstrees Australia a WA company which sells them:
    # Water once to twice weekly during the dry season of October – May, making sure that the rootball and developing roots get thoroughly wet.
    # Grasstrees will require a water during the winter months depending on the environment to which it is planted & the current rainfall [i don’t think this is the case in Sydney, unless you have a drought, but a Sydney drought could be the equivalent of Perth’s normal winter rainfall which is adequate].
    # Each spring for the first two years, cut off any flower stalks, as they can stress the plant. Monitor flowering development, as malformed stalks will need to be removed.

    The above link has more tips for ongoing maintenance once they’ve settled in over winter.

    So you’ll have to wait a couple of yrs for flowering, but it’ll be worth it 🙂 What i thought was a Kingia is the 140 yr old xanth. When I think of how old they are, I imagine what they’ve “seen” and how amazing it is that they survived our wholesale clearing b4 we thought to remove and save them (but still level everything else – grrr)

    And when you return from NYC and wonder if your garden needs a change, you could train a native climber along the balcony rail. I want to suggest Hardenbergia violacea, with beautiful purple flowers that have a white “landing platform” for pollinating insects, but that would probably need too much pruning. There would be others that aren’t so vigorous.

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