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Archive for December, 2013

I am very sad.

It’s a sadness I’ve experienced many times before.

It’s a sadness tinged with happy memories and anxiousness about the future.

Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who

Jon Pertwee as Doctor Who

It’s a ‘Doctor Who has changed’ sadness.

As a child, I remember the horror of watching Jon Pertwee fall to the floor, dying.

I cried, not willing to let my lovely first Doctor Who go. Then, as if a miracle had occured, Tom Baker stepped out of the glowing light crysalis, a brand new kind of Doctor Who, one I loved even more than my first one – which seemed hard to believe seeing I really loved Jon Pertwee with his silver hair, old fashioned and impeccable dress sense and lovely pommy cultured voice that always filled this little girl with the sense that everything was going to be alright.

Tom Baker Doctor Who

Tom Baker Doctor Who

However, Tom Baker made up for the change in spades. He was fun, unpredictable and charmingly off-kilter with his long scarf, slightly oversized hat, googly eyes and curly hair, not to mention the jelly babies he always carried around in his pocket.

He seemed all a girl could wish for in a Doctor Who – and certainly Sarah Jane and all the companions who followed felt the same.

But then he changed.

I cried. And I kind of kept on crying.

While Peter Davidson and all those who followed had their own charm, they just never matched up to those first Doctor Whos I had experienced as a child, and in time, as I grew, my interest wained.

Then, when I was in my thirties, moaning the end of Buffy and Angel and any program that seemed worth watching (there was just too much reality TV around and not enough scifi/fantasy!) along came a new Doctor Who.

Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who

Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who

I tuned in with much tentativeness, but I was quickly delighted by this new take on an old classic that held so many wonderful memories from my childhood.

Christopher Eccleston was the perfect choice for a new Doctor Who, and the companion they chose, Rose Tyler (played by the wonderfully real Billy Piper – a girl with a realistic body and attitude that any girl could be happy to emulate) were just perfect. The situations they got themselves into were bizare and zany, but in that Doctor Who way that made you hang with every incredulous moment, laughing and gasping out in wonder and terror and crying out for more.

Then the change came.

And I was sad just like I’d been when I was a child.

But that sadness didn’t last because just like when John Pertwee turned into Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston turned into the wonderfully crazy, scarily serious and  yet somehow incredibly sexy, David Tennant Doctor Who.

David Tennant Doctor Who

David Tennant Doctor Who

What a revelation he was. I loved him and his crazy zany slightly unhinged Doctor. He was the Lonely Doctor. The Angry Doctor. And he was mesmerising. I hung on his every over-pronounced word. I cried when he lost Rose – the only companion Doctor Who had ever fallen in love with. He had loved other companions, but never in a ‘I want to have a relationship with you’ kind of way. It showed a whole other side to Doctor Who, who had always seemed somehow sexless in regards to the relations between men and women. Oh, I know some of you will cry, ‘what about Romana?’ But there was more sexual tension between Doctor Who and his Tardis than between Romana and him. There was possibly some sexual tension between some of the other Doctors and their companions that I didn’t watch and so never saw. But I can’t believe that was anything like what he had with Rose.

Female Companions

Female Companions

His next few companions, Martha Jones and Donna Noble were just what he needed after his heartbreak and it was lovely to see a kind of resolution happen for that love story toward the end of the David Tennant Doctor Who’s reign, although what happened to Donna was a different kind of heartbreak that still makes me sad. (And don’t get annoyed because I’m ignoring the male companions – Micky Smith and Captain Jack Harkness have their own place in my heart, but Doctor Who never loved them and they weren’t with him continuously like the female companions were (and later Rory). And the whole Captain Jack/Doctor Who relationshipe is an entire other blog!)

The Change

The Change

Then came the change.

And I cried. Big tears of sadness and despair because I was absolutely certain there could never be another Doctor like David. It seemed like it was going to be the Tom Baker scenario all over again.

But then…wow…the incredibly youthful and optimistic Matt Smith Dr Who filled my screen with an entire new companion who he first met as a child. I sat up and smiled, and chuckled a bit and wiped those tears away and settled in to fall in love with this Doctor too.

Amy, Rory and Matt Smith Doctor Who

Amy, Rory and Matt Smith Doctor Who

The whole Amelia Pond, River Song, Rory Williams story set over 3 astonishing series just thrilled through me, and while I could never love a Doctor as much as I loved David Tennant (yes, he had even upped Tom Baker by a small degree, because he spoke to something in my female adult self that Tom Baker never would or could because I met him as a child) I still loved Matt Smith’s Doctor Who. He was the fun loving brother Doctor Who that could still show a shockingly serious side when his friends or those under his protection were at threat. It was heartbreaking when Amy and Rory left and the Doctor could never see them again. But he still had River. And he had his impossible girl, Clara Oswald.

I like Clara as a companion, although there was always something not quite ‘there’ with their partnership and I think that’s because she was hired to truly match up with a new Doctor. A Doctor who wasn’t supposed to be after the revelation of the War Doctor in ‘Day of the Doctor’. The Impossible Girl with the Impossible Doctor Who.

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who

In a lead up to this new partnership, the Doctor actually grew old. We’d not seen a truly old Doctor Who since the very first and it was shocking and wrong seeing it was the incredibly youthful Matt Smith Doctor we were seeing grow old, yet because it was him, it was still action packed and powerful. And sad. So terribly sad. Because we knew the change was coming.

And so it did, just the other day.

And I cried.

RIP Matt Smith Doctor Who

RIP Matt Smith Doctor Who

I’m yet to see if I will be swept from my sadness into a new era of impossible stories, action and companionship as I am swept along the next chapter in the journey of Doctor Who. Personally I think Peter Capaldi looks like he could be a great Dr Who and his introduction was suitably quirky and the little flashes of a scarily determined Doctor Who we had of him in the ‘Day of the Doctor’ special certainly showed promise.

So, I am still sad at the passing of another great Doctor Who, but hopefully optimistic about the future. However, as with all the other Doctor’s that have passed before, I will miss Matt Smith and his cheery, boyish gawkiness that still managed to be adult and scary when needed.

RIP Matt Smith’s Doctor Who and all his companions. You will be missed.

I’m really excited to say I have the wonderfully talented and incredibly interesting, T.M Clark as a guest on my blog tonight.

TM Clark

TM Clark

T.M and I met a number of years ago when we were both part of the inaugural Romance Writers of Australia’s 5 Day Intensive workshop where we worked with multi published authors on our WIPs. It was an exciting time, and T.M was one of those people who while holed up in their rooms typing away studiously to get through their work (while she was busily running a writing competition at the same time to boot!) was always keen for a chat and to work through issues with other writers – her door was always open.

I was super impressed at how, even though she was insanely busy, she managed to find time to write at all, let alone write the sweeping, panoramic, epics that were in her heart to write. And nothing has changed. T.M is just as busy, but she has followed her dream and her first novel, a sweeping epic romance set in Africa, has hit the shelves just the other week.

LL: Hi Tina. Thanks for being a guest on my blog. Tell us a bit about your new novel, My Brother But One.

T.M: Thanks for having me here Leisl, I’m excited because we do have that history together, and it’s so great to visit blogs of people I know and have known for a while on our journeys.

My Brother But One is about the everyday life and struggle of two families to stay alive, and simply eek out an existence in an ever-changing world. A world where the everyday people can do nothing against corrupt governments who force them into situations they don’t want, and don’t like, but they find the only path for survival, is to remain together and to love each other and love the African continent, believing that it will provide for them…

LL: It sounds wonderful. You are from Africa. How long have you lived in Australia? What brought you here? What makes you set your novels there?

TM: I lived in Zimbabwe until I was 12 years old, then moved to South Africa.  I moved countries again when I was 27 years old, to England but it was too cold… so in 2000 I moved to Australia and I have found it to be just right ( said Goldylocks sitting in the comfy chair…) My husband and I didn’t leave South Africa because of the violence, in fact both times I’ve moved from an African country it’s been after all the major political changes etc have taken place. But we needed to be our own people. We wanted to travel, and live the life we wanted to, not the life that everyone was expecting us to.

Why set my novels in Africa: I guess it’s where I grew up, where I spent my childhood running around the bushveld, and having that sense of wide openness around me. I write in Africa because I love the place, and I love the people and the animals. Just because you leave a place, doesn’t mean your heart doesn’t still hear those drums beat, or those birds sing and the quietness of the night. I write it because it’s what I know best.

LL: Wonderful reasons. Many authors (myself included) talk about where their story ideas come from (I dream mine.) What inspires you to write? Where do your ideas come from?

TM: You dream yours… wow that sounds so great and inspirational and arty …sorry mine is boring compared to that…. The initial ideas come from life and then I just ‘cook’ them in my head, build characters around people and places and let it run in there. I collect pictures and articles along the way to help make me remember things, but essentially they are just stories.

LL: Certainly not ‘just’ stories, TM!

I love your call story – can you please share it with us.

TM: At the RWA Conference on the Gold Coast in August 2012, I pitched this book to an overseas editor. She asked me for three chapters, but I wasn’t sure if she liked the book or was just asking everyone for this amount of work. On exiting the pitching rooms, I was in the lift with Haylee Kerans, Publishing Manager from Harlequin Mills and Boon Australia. (We actually know each other from attending previous conferences, and because of CYA Conference.)

Haylee asked me how the pitch went and I responded not so well – her eyes glazed over – but she asked for 3 chapters. Haylee asked what it was about and I gave her the worst pitch in recorded history. Being a nice person, she showed interest and asked to see a full. At least that is why I thought she asked to see it. I went home, got busy, a few months later began to send out my conference submissions but decide not to send to Haylee as I was pretty certain she’d just asked to see it because she was nice.

However, I had to email her about a conference happening up in Tropical North Qld. We chatter on email, and then she says: ( this one is quoted from her email)

“On another note, will I be receiving your African Saga soon?”

OMG she wasn’t just being nice…and she remembered our chatter during a really busy conference! Even I know not to argue at that stage with an editor! So I sent it. Emailed all 4.8MB of books, maps, glossary (being an African setting there are many words that needed translations etc), and then waited. Christmas and New Year are a huge family time in this house, and I had edits to work on from Entangled for a different book (also with an African setting), so I plod on…

12th February 2013. I have something ridiculous like 1,850 emails in my inbox, and I go on a major deleting spree to try get everything back under control. One of my emails is from Haylee Nash, and is titled: Offer. I click on it to add it to the others spam emails behind about to hit the trash can – but my eye runs over the first line, and I stop. There is the word submission is in there… this could be writing related and not spam.

I read her email and realise not only is Haylee Kerans now Haylee Nash ( CONGRATULATIONS Haylee on your marriage!), but she is offering me a contract on the book from the worst elevator pitch in history!

And so the screaming began, and the long awaited 2nd book contract in my life actually happened.

LL: I just love that story. Thanks for sharing it. I know My Brother But One isn’t just a normal, contemporary romance. Can you tell us what makes it special to you? What do you think will make readers fall in love with this story?

TM: No it’s not a traditional contemporary romance at all. In fact, they labelled the back as General Fiction. It’s an adventure/saga really with a little sprinkle of a romantic element.

I think each reader takes away what they want to from this book. It’s not about a single person but a family, and it’s not about the colour of that family’s skin tones, but what is in each of those characters hearts, and what they can do, and what boundaries they are willing to push and the size of the sacrifices made for them all to survive in an environment that has changed.

This was a book of the heart when I wrote it. The first novel I had ever completed, then completed again when I expanded it to tell the whole story and evolve it into what it is today. It’s also a book I wasn’t willing to compromise on, so I never shielded away from the nastiness and violence that made up part of my story, as violence is a real life factor in living in most of Africa.

I think I am lucky that although I once lived surrounded by this type of environment, I somehow managed to not be a victim of this violence, and for that I am eternally grateful!

My Brother But One

My Brother But One

LL: I love your cover. What about it do you think expresses something essential to the reader?

TM: Thank you again to the team at Harlequin Australia for not listening to one of my ideas and for knowing what they had up their sleeve was better and just perfect for the book. Every time I see my cover I start singing, ‘He an’t heavy, he’s my brother…’ It just fits for me. Those elephants captured my heart. I love my cover too!

LL: What’s been the most surprising aspect of your journey from unpublished author to published author so far?

TM: Taking so long from my first published children’s book in 2005 to publishing a novel in 2013. I thought once the first one happened, I would get another and another book published, but it just didn’t happen that way. Guess some things just take how long they need to take and there is no short cut.

LL: What’s up next for you? Any projects on the boil that you’re particularly excited about?

TM: I have been offered a new, two book deal from Harlequin, Australia, and I’m still finishing off the next book. Hope it’s next on the shelf…working title: Shooting Butterflies, but that’s up to my editor. Again it’s mainly set in Southern Africa, and has a multicultural cast of characters whom I just adore!

LL: Sounds fascinating.

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, T.M. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.

You can buy T.M Clark’s new novel, My Brother But One from:

E-book – Apple App Store – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/my-brother-but-one/id730800670?mt=11

E- book from Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Brother-But-One-T-M-Clark-ebook/dp/B00G2V5PRY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385345864&sr=1-1&keywords=my+brother+but+one

Ebook – Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-brother-but-one

E- Book – Harlequin Books Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660

Books from:  Target, Big W, Kmart, any good book store.

Book from Booktopia – http://www.booktopia.com.au/my-brother-but-one-t-m-clark/prod9781743564660.html

Book from: Harlequin Books Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660

Author bio:

TINA MARIE CLARK

Born in Zimbabwe, Tina Marie completed her primary school years at boarding school in Bulawayo, but on weekends and holidays, her time was spent exploring their family ranch in Nyamandhlovu, normally on the back of her horse. Her teenage years were totally different to her idyllic childhood. After her father died, the family of 5 women moved to Kokstad, a rural town at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, where she lived in the boarding school hostel as her home. In winter she walked to school in the snow and could never get warm, and in summer she sweated having to wear an impractical, but smart, blazer on the same trail.

She began writing fiction when she moved to the UK while being a stay at home mum to her two sons, following a suggestion from her husband Shaun during a trip to Paris, and she hasn’t looked back.

Now living on a small island near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Tina Marie combines her passion for story telling with her love for Africa. When not running around after the men in her life, she gets to enjoy her hobbies, which include boating, reading, sewing, travel, gardening, and lunching with her friends. (Not necessarily in that order!)

Passionate about Africa, different cultures and wildlife, most of Tina Marie’s books are set somewhere on that ancient continent.

Readers are welcome to find Tina on social media:

Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/TMClark- Author/130010083845439

Find me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7223082.T_M_Clark

Twitter: @TinaMarieClark2

Or visit on her website: www.tmclark.com.au

Or email her on: tina@tmclark.com.au

 

I love Christmas.

I love the decorations – the colour and sparkle in my house makes me feel happy.

My Christmas Tree

My Christmas Tree

I love the Christmas trees (I love decorating mine – and this year, my boys really helped, listening when I explained that the tree needed to be balanced and therefore putting all the same things in the one place isn’t the way to do it – yes, I am a little anal! 🙂 )

I love Christmas lights – not that we do any ourselves, but I really admire those who do and we always go looking for the lights display when we’re out and about with the boys, stopping to appreciate the Christmas cheer efforts of others. I enjoy the Christmas shopping – thinking of what my family and friends might like, ticking off my list, getting it done well in time – usually I have most of it done before the end of November – I did say I was a bit anal.

I love receiving cards and writing them – I got cute puppy and cat ones this year (the cats look a bit pissed off about having Santa hats and reindeer antlers on their heads – very funny when the caption is ‘Joy to the world’. LOL moment when I found those.)

I love the Christmas food. I bake cakes and rum balls that I decorate to look like little Christmas puddings to give to family and close friends. I love how excited the kids get. I love the suspension of disbelief and the imagination that keeps Santa and his magical reindeers alive for so many little tykes year after year. My husband and I have a routine on Christmas Eve. We deliver the cakes I’m making to our friends, then go to a friend’s Christmas Eve drinks with the kids and then after they’re all tucked up in bed, we sit and watch Carols by Candlelight and wrap the kids gifts and put them under the tree. My tree will continue to look a bit bare to me until Christmas Eve when those presents in their bright and cute paper gets put under it. My husband then goes off to wrap up my birthday presents (because yes, my birthday is on Christmas day – a difficult thing when I was a child, but my parents were so fantastic about it all and made certain my birthday never got subsumed by Christmas day.)

However, each year that goes by, I feel like there are things missing – there are less cards being sent and received, less cheer from many people. But the thing I miss the most are the carols.

Ever since school I have been part of some kind of caroling group. Our madrigal group would have some gigs singing at hospitals and old folks’ homes and it was always such a lovely thing to do. Then, when I was older, I was part of a professional group called The Christmas Belles. We would go out in groups of 4 (1 soprano – me, 2 metzo sopranos and 1 alto) and sing archapella for anywhere between 2-4 hours at shopping centres and old folks’ homes. The shopping centres were often really hard work, but it was so rewarding when people would stop to listen and sing along, smiles growing on their faces. The old folks’ homes were always rewarding – such appreciative audiences who give so much back. A few years ago that group dissolved because the wonderful lady who had run it for so many years became very sick and couldn’t do it anymore. But I was in a choir then and we did a few gigs at old folks’ homes too, so I still got to sing my carols and glory in those wonderful descant parts.

But in the last few years, because of a need to work more for my family, I had to give up my choir too and now I just don’t get to sing those carols with any regularity. And I miss it. Singing those carols always really made it feel like Christmas was coming. And not just because the singing filled me with joy, but because I could see that joy extend to the faces of those who were listening too. People who were sick, people who were preoccupied and busy trying to juggle too much, stopping to listen and stay for a few minutes, maybe even requesting a favourite carol – it was truly something special. I’ve noticed that despite the Christmas decorations, the shopping centres don’t tend to play the carols like they used to – and I miss it, even though I might understand the reason.

My favourite carols to sing were the ones with the big, soaring descants – ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’ ,’Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘Oh Holy Night’ – ones like that. What about you? What are your favourite Christmas Carols?

I have to say right off the bat that I’m sorry I went MIA for a couple of weeks. Life smacked me up the side of the head with a number of unexpected things all at once and there was no time to do things such as write about my love of Dr Who, Marvel characters or Star Trek (all of which I’d planned to do). Not to mention I never got to watch the Dr Who special again after #savetheday childus-interuptus meant I didn’t get the full hit, because my husband was away and really wanted to watch it with me when he got back. Something that will most likely have to wait until after Christmas when things have calmed down a little. So, given I can’t write about any of that yet and today – the first day of the school holidays for my kids – found me sitting in front of the TV for an hour or so over lunch I was struck by the number of Christmas TV movies on again and felt inspired to write about it. I don’t know about you, but I have a soft spot for those Christmas TV movies. It doesn’t matter how terrible some of them are, they are so full of the spirit of Christmas that they always give me a little happy glowy feeling inside. Many have a little romance thrown in, which just makes me feel even more glowy and Christmas cheery.

Annie Claus and her Man

Annie Claus and her Man

I watched a lovely one today with an extremely cheery redhead with beautiful glowy skin who was Annie Claus, Santa Claus’ daughter, and she was on sabatical before Christmas in California, bringing Christmas cheer to everyone she met (except the baddie, who just didn’t get her cheery loveliness) and she got to meet her soul mate too. Throw in a lonely child, orphans a down on its luck toy shop and an elf who really needs to learn not to play power games with the red-suited one’s only daughter (banishment and kitchen-duty hell taught him a much needed lesson!) and it was so sweet I almost got a cavity. I hope they play it again – becuase I missed the start and as you know, set up is everything. However, even though I came in part way through, it was just what I needed to watch with 7 weeks of school holidays stretched ahead of me where I have to juggle bored kids, what to do with them while I’m at work (so lucky my parents help out a lot) and edits for my new novel, Dark Moon, not to mention Christmas looming, all the cards I still need to write and the cakes I need to bake for family and close friends (although I do enjoy this) and a bunch of other stuff besides. It put me in a positive mood to face all of them and made me want to search out my favourite Christmas movie of all time to watch and enjoy with my kids… Bill Murray’s Scrooged.

Bill Murray in Scrooged

Bill Murray in Scrooged

I just love that movie. For me, it is the epitome of Christmas movies – a retelling of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, which is THE master story of all Christmas stories from which most other Christmas stories find inspiration – a character study of a bad man made good by the spirits of Christmas and the joy of those around him who can find happiness in the most dire circumstances because they share the love of family and friendship – which is what Christmas is supposed to be about – the spirit of loving and giving and respect for our fellow man. But unlike the traditional Charles Dickens movie versions that are often so dour it’s not hard to see how Ebinezer got to be the sourpuss he is, Scrooged is a funny, crazy, slapsticky version (of course it is, it’s got Bill Murray who happens to be in some of my favourite funny movies of all time…Stripes, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters anyone?) His version of Ebinezer, TV exec, Frank Cross’ journey from scrooge to generous man full of the spirit of Christmas (and I’m not talking about whisky), is full of an off kilter energy and pathos that shows the pain at the centre of this much maligned character. I know some people wouldn’t like it, but its mix of silliness, comedy, pathos and Christmas message is just perfect for me at this time of the year.

Carol Kane and Bill Murray - violently zany slapstick heaven

Carol Kane and Bill Murray – violently zany slapstick heaven

Bill and Carol Kane (the ghost of Christmas Present) on screen together is a piece of casting genius. I just love the way she slaps him around. She’s the toughest fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Present there ever was! With her and the other Ghosts’ help (not to mention them scaring the pants off him numerous times) Frank builds bridges with his brother, realises he can’t live without his ex-girlfriend, stops an ex employee he completely wronged (the ridiculously crazy Bobcat Goldthwaite) from killing him, creates some much needed Christmas magic for his much put-upon secretary (the blissful Alfre Woodard) and her family and all this while a ludicrously eighties version of a Christmas Carol (it has the Solid Gold Dancers in it!) is being shot live in his TV studio. It is non-stop violently zany slapstick from beginning to end – the kind that sarcasm king, Bill Murray, excels at). Then if it wasn’t already as perfect as it could be, right at the end, they finish off with Annie Lennox singing ‘Put a Little Love In Your Heart’ with Al Green – which is enough to have your feet tapping and feeling as far from scroogy as it is possible to feel all by itself. Good triumphs evil with romance and funny – what could be more Christmassy than that? Other than the Dr Who version of this classic – but that is a completely seperate blog.

And just for a treat, here’s the Scrooged trailer just to get you in the mood – enjoy!

Scrooged Trailer

I’d love to hear from you about the Christmas movies you love.

Romance Writers of Australia